Michigan St Spartans vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Pick & Prediction JANUARY 13th 2023

Stadium: State Farm Center Champaign
Logo Michigan St Spartans
Logo Illinois Fighting Illini

136.5o -110
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The increased role of the transfer portal has changed the landscape for many big-time schools. That's why the continuity in Michigan State's program this season stands out.

Most of the Spartans' rotation players from last season are still playing key roles. That chemistry helped them collect a big road win at Wisconsin on Tuesday. They will look for another when they visit Illinois on Friday night.

Returnees scored all of their points in a 69-65 victory over the Badgers, led by Joey Hauser with 20 points and eight rebounds.

"Experience matters. It really does, especially in this day and age," coach Tom Izzo said. "What I've got is a little different than some, all of my guys have played together. It's not a factory of guys running in, running out. Those guys have a feel for one another. The huddles are pretty good that way. Those guys are challenging one another. That was big for us, I think that helps."

Michigan State trailed by five points with four minutes left, then outscored the Badgers 15-6.

"Our focus down the stretch was big, especially with the hostile environment we were in, the way the game was going with a lot of the lead changes and the back-and-forth," guard A.J. Hoggard said.

The Spartans (12-4, 4-1 Big Ten) have won seven straight and could return to the Top 25 if they defeat the Fighting Illini.

Illinois (11-5, 2-3) defeated Wisconsin for its first conference victory on Saturday, then added another by pounding Nebraska 76-50 on Tuesday.

Texas Tech transfer Terrence Shannon Jr. has led the way in both contests. He scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds against the Badgers, then piled up 25 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and four steals against the Cornhuskers.

Illinois limited Nebraska to 37 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers.

"On the offensive side, I thought we moved the ball. Fourteen assists -- good total," coach Brad Underwood said. "We were patient, we took what was there, didn't force anything. And then (Shannon) is truly playing like one of the best players in our league. All in all, didn't expect this coming in but I sure was pleased with our defensive effort."

--Field Level Media

Michigan St Spartans
Illinois Fighting Illini

Michigan St Spartans vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

Xavier Tillman dunked the rebound of Cassius Winston's missed shot with 6.5 seconds left Tuesday night, enabling Michigan State to snap a three-game losing streak with a 70-69 Big Ten Conference win over No. 22 Illinois in Champaign, Ill.

Freshman Kofi Cockburn canned two foul shots with 19.1 seconds remaining to give the Fighting Illini (16-8, 8-5 Big Ten). But Tillman capped a 17-point, 11-rebound performance with his putback. Illinois' last possession ended with a turnover from Ayo Dosunmu.

Four players scored in double figures for the Spartans (17-8, 9-5), with freshman Rocket Watts scoring a career-high 21 points. Aaron Henry added 13 and Winston finished with 12 as Michigan State canned 49.1 percent from the field.

Dosunmu scored 17 points for the Illini, who now own a three-game losing streak heading into road dates with Rutgers and Penn State. Andres Feliz added 15 off the bench and Cockburn finished with 11 points.

Illinois erased a 20-point deficit early in the second half, taking its first lead of the game when Dosunmu converted a layup with 5:27 left for a 61-60 edge. Feliz scored his team's next six points, bringing the Illini within 68-67 in the last minute with two foul shots.

Coming in with three straight losses that gave it the rare indignity of dropping out of the Associated Press Top 25 after starting the season as a near-unanimous No. 1, Michigan State played with a sense of urgency in controlling the first half.

The Spartans rattled off the first eight points, forcing Illinois coach Brad Underwood into calling a timeout before his team scored a point after Watts' transition jumper at the 16:53 mark.

Another Watts jumper pushed the margin to 10 with 11:28 left in the half, and it stayed in double figures for the half's remainder except for 56 seconds. Michigan State used an 11-2 run to go up 35-16 on Henry's 3-pointer with 3:30 remaining and went into the locker room up 37-20.

--Field Level Media