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1/11 Big Ten Basketball Preview: Michigan State at Illinois

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Michigan State Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a doubleheader of Big Ten action tonight on FS1. Let’s take a look at the upcoming games.

Game of the Night

Michigan State Spartans at #10 Illinois Fighting Illini

  • Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET FS1
  • Line: Illinois -3.5

Michigan State has been all over the place this season but even with six losses there’s a decent chance every loss has come against a quality opponent set to play in the postseason this March. A 14 point road loss to Northwestern wasn’t ideal, especially as it drops State to 1-3 in league play. That more or less makes today’s game against Illini a must win if the Spartans want to turn things around.

The jury is still out on Illinois without Terrence Shannon Jr. In their last game at Purdue the final score looked much closer than it actually was, though they knocked off Northwestern by 30 points the game prior. Marcus Domask has been rolling, averaging 29 points the past two games. A solid Illinois offense at home should have the advantage on paper.

Michigan State has usually been good at following a loss up with a win, including coming back from a loss at Nebraska by blowing out Baylor. The loss to Northwestern was based pretty heavily on turnovers and defensive lapses, something that Izzo should be capable of cleaning up. The reality is this Michigan State team can hang with pretty much everyone but they’ve also shown their capable of losing to almost anyone as well.

Illinois definitely hit the ground running in the wake of Shannon’s suspension and there’s a decent chance they’ll eventually come back down without the guy most of their fans refer to as their best player. Look for Michigan State to surprise everybody and inexplicably pull off the upset in another attempt to finally get things turned around.

Pick: Michigan State

The Rest

Michigan Wolverines at Maryland Terrapins

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET FS1
  • Line: Maryland -5.5

After Michigan unexpectedly saw head coach Juwan Howard hand off coaching duties for their road game against Penn State this weekend we will once again see something unusual surrounding the Wolverines. This time it’s star guard Dug McDaniel, who is now serving a suspension but only for the next six road games. With tonight’s game coming on the road, that means Michigan will be without their leading scorer. Through 15 games McDaniel is averaging 17.8 points, 5.1 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game.

That creates an interesting wrinkle heading into tonight’s game because Michigan has been awful on the defensive side of the ball but more or less fine offensively. Without McDaniel there’s still plenty of pieces here, but the team still loses their best offensive weapon.

On the other side of the court is a Maryland team that can’t consistently score outside of Jahmir Young. The offensive woes that continue to plague Maryland could get a slight respite thanks to a horrible Michigan defense coming to town. If Young can get going and Maryland can just find some sort of production from the rest of the starting rotation they should be capable of getting past a short handed Wolverines squad that is currently in freefall.

Pick: Maryland