Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Preview: MSU men's basketball looks to get back on track at No. 10 Illinois

January 10, 2024
Junior guard Tyson Walker shoots a three-pointer over the Illinois defense. The Spartans fell to the Illini 79-74 at the Breslin Center on Feb 19, 2022.
Junior guard Tyson Walker shoots a three-pointer over the Illinois defense. The Spartans fell to the Illini 79-74 at the Breslin Center on Feb 19, 2022.

The Michigan State men’s basketball team will get back on the road Thursday to take on No. 10 Illinois after its tough 88-74 loss to Northwestern Sunday night.

After ending their promising five-game winning streak and dropping to 1-3 in conference play, the Spartans are in desperate need to get back on track with an upset win in Champaign.

The way the Spartans were playing in December looked a lot more like the preseason No. 4 ranked team everyone expected, but after being broken down by the Wildcats in Evanston last Sunday, a Big Ten victory is sorely needed.

In all-time matchups between Michigan State and Illinois, the Spartans lead the series against the Fighting Illini 64-63, but Illinois has dominated as of late, taking the past three matchups.

The Fighting Illini are without their leading scorer Terrance Shannon Jr. after he was suspended from the team in December, but they are still a threat offensively. Graduate student Marcus Domask, graduate student Quincey Guerrier and senior Coleman Hawkins all average double-digits and the team leads the Big Ten in scoring margin logging and average of 83.5 points per game while only allowing 66.8 points per game.

Michigan State is not the only squad coming off a loss as Illinois is also coming into Thursday night’s matchup with a recent loss to No. 1 Purdue. This game was the largest challenge yet for the Illini without Shannon Jr., but Domask had a massive 26-point night that landed him the spot of Associated Press Player of the Week and Big Ten Player of the Week.

Unfortunately for the Spartans, taking on a top-ten opponent on the road is not necessarily the best-case scenario for getting back on track and trying to improve their Big Ten standings, but they have proven they are capable – specifically in the victory over then-ranked No. 6 Baylor University.

Michigan State completely dismantled the Bears and came back to East Lansing with a revitalized style of play. Looking ahead to Michigan State’s game against Illinois, defeating a top-ten team in their home arena could potentially do the same. However, there is a lot that needs to re-click to accomplish that feat – including rounded-out play from the Spartan core veterans.

The game at Illinois is set to tip off at 9 p.m. on FS1.

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