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1/18 Big Ten Basketball Preview: Illinois Travels to Michigan

Syndication: Journal-Courier Alex Martin/Journal and Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Tonight there’s a doubleheader on FS1 set to tip off at 6:30. Let’s take a look at the upcoming action.

Game of the Night

#14 Illinois Fighting Illini at Michigan Wolverines

  • Time/TV: 8:30 PM ET FS1
  • Line: Illinois -2.5

Michigan got back into the win column on Monday against rival Ohio State, ending a five game losing skid. Tonight they’ll face an Illinois squad coming off of an inexplicable home loss to Maryland, making this game one the Illini need if they want to keep pace with Wisconsin and Purdue.

Winning on the road is tough and that task will likely be at least a bit more difficult as the Wolverines have guard Dug McDaniel at home (he’s currently only suspended for games on the road). Michigan has an efficient offense and plenty of options in the starting five, but the rotation is thin with a minimal bench. That lack of depth isn’t as problematic when McDaniel can eat up 39 minutes, though.

The Illini are one of the better offensive teams in the league, even without Terrence Shannon Jr. That’s a good thing because the Wolverines defense is pretty rough and taking advantage of that will be key if Illinois wants to pick one up on the road. Marcus Domask has stepped up nicely as of late, but the team will need better performances from Coleman Hawkins and Quincy Guerrier today after the pair underwhelmed in the loss to Maryland.

The Illini are the better team and on paper there’s no reason to think they’ll lose to Michigan. Playing on the road in the Big Ten complicates things (just ask Wisconsin about that), but they should have enough firepower to outpace a poor Wolverines defense.

Pick: Illinois

The Rest

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Michigan State Spartans

Michigan State got a much needed win at home against Rutgers this weekend and will look to add another win at home before a pair of road games against Maryland and Wisconsin. Minnesota lost their second game in a row after a seven game winning streak that saw them at 3-1 in the league a little over a week ago.

Gophers point guard Elijah Hawkins has struggled shooting from the field and the defense hasn’t looked good their last two games. Against a pretty efficient Michigan State offense that will likely prove problematic. When facing a Rutgers defense ranked in the top ten per KenPom the Spartans were able to score 73 points on their way to a 18 point victory.

Michigan State needs as many wins as they can get after a rough start to the year has them sitting at 10-7. Luckily tonight should provide another opportunity to get in the win column.

Pick: Michigan State