No. 22 Illinois (16-7, 8-4 Big Ten)
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Trent Frazier Jr. 6-2 9.8
G Ayo Dosunmu So. 6-5 15.8
G Da’Monte Williams Jr. 6-3 2.3
F Giorgi Bezhanishvili So. 6-9 8.0
C Kofi Cockburn Fr. 7-0 13.8
FYI: Dosunmu’s eight-game streak of double figure scoring (he’s averaged 17 points since Jan. 8) is the longest this season by any Illini and longest since Frazier had an eight-game stretch as a freshman in 2017-18 (averaged 18.7 points).
Off the bench
G Andres Feliz Sr. 6-2 11.1
F Kipper Nichols R-Sr. 6-6 3.8
G Alan Griffin So. 6-5 8.3
Michigan State (16-8, 8-5 Big Ten)
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Cassius Winston Sr. 6-1 18.6
G Aaron Henry So. 6-6 9.3
F Gabe Brown So. 6-7 7.8
F Malik Hall Fr. 6-7 4.8
F Xavier Tillman Jr. 6-8 13.4
FYI: Hall is one of three Michigan State freshmen, including Rocket Watts and Julius Marble, that also had Illinois offers. Hall, an Aurora native, was targeted first with an offer in April 2017.
Off the bench
G Rocket Watts Fr. 6-2 7.2
F Marcus Bingham Jr. So. 6-11 4.2
G/F Kyle Ahrens R-Sr. 6-6 3.4
Site: State Farm Center (15,544), Champaign
Radio: Brian Barnhart (play-by-play) and former Illini Deon Thomas (analysis) will have the call on the Illini Sports Network on WDWS 1400-AM, WHMS 97.5-FM, WDAN 1490-AM, WDNL 102.1 FM and WPXN 104.9-FM.
TV: Rece Davis (play-by-play), Dan Dakich (analysis) and Molly McGrath (sideline reports) will have the call on ESPN.
Series history: Michigan State leads 62-60.
Last meeting: Michigan State won 76-56 on Jan. 2, 2020 in East Lansing, Mich.
FYI: Last year’s Illinois-Michigan State game wound up being fairly memorable, what with Ayo Dosunmu hitting what amounted to the game-winning three-pointer right after Dakich, who was on the call then, too, said the then-freshman guard doing so “wouldn’t end well” for the Illini.
Scott Richey’s storylines
A team’s adjusted tempo can be calculated by taking its total possessions in a game and dividing it by minutes played. It’s then adjusted for schedule, which considers the pace of each opponent and when the game was played. That’s the foundation. Here’s the result. Illinois’ adjusted tempo this season is at a Brad Underwood era low, with the Illini ranking 249th in the country after checking in at 52nd last season. Playing with more pace has been a focus since Friday’s loss at Maryland. “Don’t be relaxed on the offensive end,” sophomore guard Alan Griffin said was stressed. “We worked on that in practice (Monday) — running with pace — and it looked really good.”
A lot on the line
Ayo Dosunmu expects one difference from Illinois’ last game against Michigan State — a 20-point loss in East Lansing, Mich. The Illinois sophomore guard expects the Illini to win. Even after Friday’s loss at Maryland. “We watched the film,” Dosunmu said about breaking down the Maryland game. “We have a great coaching staff. They told us what we did wrong. Not just telling us, but showing us so we can understand it and we can correct it.” Michigan State is in the midst of its own losing streak — three straight heading into Tuesday’s game. “They’re fighting for a lot,” Dosunmu said. “We’re fighting for a lot. That’s why it’s going to be a very intense game.”
Michigan State leads the Big Ten with 5.4 blocked shots per game. Illinois found out the hard way just how talented the Spartans are at protecting the rim last month when Marcus Bingham Jr. and Xavier Tillman teamed up to block nine Illini shots. “They’re a deceptively good shot blocking team,” Underwood said. “They make everything with a contested hand and everything in front of you and everything challenged at the rim with a blocked shot or a wall up.”
Prediction: Michigan State 75, No. 22 Illinois 69
This isn’t the same Illinois team that lost by 20 last month in East Lansing. Not the same Michigan State team either. But that doesn’t change the fact the Spartans can hurt teams with the Cassius Winston-Xavier Tillman combo. (N-G prediction record: 16-7)