Michigan State vs. Illinois Prediction, Odds, Key Players for Thursday, Jan. 11 (Lay it with Illinois)

Can Michigan State pull off the upset in Champaign? 

Illinois Fighting Illini forward Marcus Domask (3) is defended by the Purdue Boilermakers.
Illinois Fighting Illini forward Marcus Domask (3) is defended by the Purdue Boilermakers. / Alex Martin/Journal and Courier / USA

After a 4-5 start, Michigan State found its groove with a five-game winning streak before it was snapped on Sunday in a 14-point loss at Northwestern. That defeat dropped the Spartans to 1-3 in Big 10 play and they have a tall task on Thursday on the road against No. 10 Illinois. 

Illinois had a four-game winning streak snapped by No. 1 Purdue on the road, but the Fighting Illini covered as a double-digit dog at Mackey Arena, falling 83-78. 

Here’s the betting preview for this Big 10 battle. 

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Michigan State vs. Illinois odds, spread, total

Michigan State vs. Illinois betting trends

  • Michigan State is 8-7 ATS this season
  • Illinois is 8-4 ATS this season
  • Michigan State is 1-2 ATS as an underdog this season
  • Illinois is 5-4-1 ATS as a favorite this season
  • The OVER is 8-7 in Michigan State games this season
  • The OVER is 8-6 in Illinois games this season

Michigan State vs. Illinois how to watch

  • Date: Thursday, Jan. 11
  • Game time: 9 p.m.
  • Venue: State Farm Center
  • How to watch (TV): FS1
  • Michigan State record: 9-6 (1-3 Big 10)
  • Illinois record: 11-3 (2-1 Big 10)

Michigan State vs. Illinois key players to watch

Michigan State

Jaxon Kohler: The 6-foot-9 forward played 10.8 minutes over 34 games off the bench for the Spartans last season and was expected to be a key cog for this year’s club before needing foot surgery in October. Kohler is working his way back into the rotation and played three minutes in Michigan State’s loss to Northwestern. He averaged 3 points and 2.9 rebounds per game last season. 


Marcus Domask: Illinois is without leading scorer Terrence Shannon Jr., who was suspended on Dec. 28. In the three games without him, Domask has taken over as the primary offensive threat, averaging 23 points. Domask went 11-of-15 from the field for 32 points to go with 5 rebounds and 6 assists in a win over Northwestern Jan. 2. He followed that up with 26 points against No. 1 Purdue on Friday. 

Michigan State vs. Illinois prediction and pick

The strength of every Izzo-coached club is on defense and the Spartans rank No. 23 in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. That hasn’t been the case, though, in Michigan State’s two true road games this season. The Spartans allowed Nebraska to shoot 50% from the field in a 77-70 loss in Lincoln Dec. 10, then gave up a season-high 88 points in the 14-point loss to Northwestern on Sunday.

Illinois is No. 7 in offensive efficiency and No. 21 in defensive efficiency on KenPom and Michigan State has faced the 13th-hardest schedule of opposing offenses. While Illinois is still in the early stages of figuring out its rotation without Shannon, the Fighting Illini still have the size advantage in this matchup and have complimentary scorers in Quincy Guerrier and Coleman Hawkins.

Michigan State’s struggles on the road paired with Illinois’ two-day rest advantage makes the home team the pick. Lay the points. 

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.