Michigan State vs. Illinois: Big Ten Conference Basketball Inside Assembly Hall

No. 10 Michigan State Spartans at Illinois Fighting Illini
Tuesday, 1/31/12, 7:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN
Opening Point Spread:  Michigan State -3.5
Current Betting Line:  Michigan State -2
Opening Total:  128.5
Current Total:  128
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Illinois Fighting Illini guard Brandon Paul leads the Big Ten in scoring during conference play

Michigan State heads out on the road after picking up consecutive home wins over the Purdue Boilermakers and Minnesota Gophers.  The Spartans are led by senior forward Draymond Green, who is averaging 15.3 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.  He leads the Big Ten Conference with 11 double-doubles this year.  “He was just unbelievable,” commented Spartans head coach Tom Izzo about Green’s 22-point performance against the Golden Gophers.  Michigan State is 14-14 ATS on the road the past two-plus seasons.

The Spartans are 4-2 in true road games this season, as they’ve held opponents to 39.9 percent shooting from the floor in those contests, including 29.8 percent from beyond the arc.  Michigan State is allowing just 60.2 points per game overall, which ranks 32nd nationally.  Offensively, the program has really flourished from three-point range in the last 15 games, hitting 43.4 percent of its attempts.  The all-time series between these two programs is tied at 55-55, but the Spartans have won six of the last eight meetings.

Illinois is almost in a must-win situation Tuesday night after dropping its last three games, including a 77-72 overtime loss to the Gophers as 4.5-point road underdogs.  “Tough game, obviously,” commented Fighting Illini head coach Bruce Weber.  “We’ve lost three in a row, now let’s see if we can come back and respond with character.”  The Fighting Illini are 4-5 in home games versus top-10 opponents during Weber’s time on the sidelines in Champaign.  Illinois is 2-14 ATS as a home underdog of three points or less.

The Fighting Illini have been involved in many close games this season, with the last six being decided by five points or less.  That is the program’s longest such streak during conference play in the modern era.  Illinois will lean heavily on Brandon Paul on the offensive end, coming in as the Big Ten’s leading scorer in averaging 20.0 points in league play.  He has reached double figures in scoring in 14 of the last 15 games, including the last 10 contests.  The last 13 matchups in this series have been decided by 10 points or fewer.

Bettors will likely back the Fighting Illini due to their 5-0 ATS mark on Tuesdays, while the Spartans are 0-6 ATS as a road favorite of 6.5 points or less.

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