NCAA Basketball Picks: Illinois vs. Michigan State

Jeff Grant

Thursday, January 31, 2013 12:25 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013 12:25 PM UTC

The Michigan State Spartans will put their perfect home record on the line against the Illinois Fighting Illini Thursday night, as the last 14 meetings in this series have been decided by a single-digit margin. Let’s take a closer look at the betting odds for this Big Ten Conference matchup.


Missing the mark

Illinois has found conference play difficult in the early going, as it has dropped four of its last five contests, including a 74-60 setback to the top-ranked Michigan Wolverines as six-point home underdogs Sunday. The Fighting Illini are 2-5 SUATS versus Big Ten Conference opponents this year, with the UNDER going 6-1 in that situation.

Quality loss

Michigan State certainly isn’t happy about dropping a 75-70 decision to the Indiana Hoosiers as 9.5-point road underdogs last time out, but it will be perceived as a quality loss when looking over its NCAA basketball tournament resume. The Spartans have covered the spread in five of their last six games following a defeat, which can’t be ignored when making your college basketball picks against the spread on a busy Thursday around the country.

Close series of late

Sports bettors may find the Fighting Illini as an attractive option when looking over the NCAA basketball odds page, considering the last 14 games in this particular series have been decided by 10 points or less. It’s not shocking to find that the underdog is 5-1-1 ATS in the last seven meetings when reading a statistic of that kind. Total players will also find that the UNDER is 10-2 in the last 12 games in this rivalry. 

70 is the key number

The Fighting Illini have compiled a 12-1 record this year when scoring 70 or more points, but that’s been a tough number to reach in conference play, as they’ve gone 0-5 SUATS when failing to reach that mark. Illinois has missed the spread by an average of 10.7 points per game in those contests, as it prepares to go against an opponent that allows just 54.2 points per game on this floor.

Quite a trend

With a lot of signs pointing towards taking the points in this marquee game on ESPN, it’s important to note that Michigan State has tallied a money-making 34-8 ATS record in its last 42 opportunities as home favorites of 6.5 to 9 points. That’s a tremendous number for a program that has gone 28-35 ATS when laying points over the last two-plus seasons.



I’m going to recommend that readers back the Spartans to their sports picks tonight, as they’ll gain revenge from that one-point loss in Champaign in front of their home fans. The Fighting Illini will fall to 3-13 ATS in their last 16 road games.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Michigan State Spartans -8.5

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