TEXAS, Sporting Alert – No. 5 Michigan State will take on Illinois in one of the NCAA college basketball Top 25 games happening on Thursday night.
The Spartans (14-1) suffered its first defeat of the season at Iowa last week and slipped four places in the latest Associated Press Top 25 rankings, but managed to bounce back against Minnesota on Saturday.
They will head into Thursday’s game still without injured All-American forward Denzel Valentine, who continues to recover from a knee injury. The star senior could return next week, reports are claiming.
Meanwhile, Illinois (8-7) has dropped its last two games, which were the Big Ten openers and the Illini will be hoping to stop the bleed quickly.
Guard Bryn Forbes, who is averaging 13.8 points per game, is averaging 18.3 points per game over the last three outings and he’s expected to play a big role for Michigan State. He was limited to just three points in the 83-70 defeat against Iowa, but netted 20 points in the close win over Minnesota.
Meanwhile, the Fighting Illini is expected to have senior guard Khalid Lewis for them Spartans’ battle.
Lewis missed the defeats against Michigan and Ohio State as he recovers from the mumps, but Illini coach John Groce said that the senior will return to the lineup for Thursday’s game.
Malcolm Hill, who has scored in double figures in all 15 games this season for Illinois, comes in averaging 17.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game and is shooting 43.7 percent.
Guard Kendrick Nunn is scoring 18.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, and shooting 41.7 percent from 3-point range.
Freshman forward Michael Finke is shooting 53.3 percent from the field and is averaging 10.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per contest.
The Spartans, who are 7-0 at home this season, are favored by 13.5 points to win this game.
In another college basketball game on Thursday, No. 15 SMU (13-0) will put its undefeated season on the line at the Moody Coliseum in Dallas, Texas against Cincinnati (11-4)
The Mustangs are 8-0 at home and are 6.5 point favorites to beat the Bearcats.
In more college basketball Top 25 games, No. 7 Arizona(13-1) travels to California to tackle UCLA (9-6) at the Pauley Pavilion, LIVE on ESPN3, while No. 16 Louisville (12-2) hunts its opening ACC win of the season at NC State (10-4).
College Basketball Live Fixtures, TV Channels
Cincinnati at No. 15 SMU 7:00 PM ESPN, WatchESPN
Michigan at No. 20 Purdue 7:00 PM ESPNU, WatchESPN
No. 16 Louisville at NC State 7:00 PM ESPN2, WatchESPN
No. 7 Arizona at UCLA 9:00 PM ESPN2, ESPN3, WatchESPN
LIVE ESPN3/WATCHESPN STREAM
Notre Dame at Boston College 7:00 PM ESPN3, WatchESPN
Manhattan at Canisius 7:00 PM ESPN3, WatchESPN
Fairfield at Siena 7:00 PM ESPN3, WatchESPN
South Dakota State at IUPUI 7:00 PM ESPN3, WatchESPN
Troy at Georgia State 7:30 PM ESPN3, WatchESPN
Green Bay at Cleveland State 7:30 PM ESPN3, WatchESPN
Rider at Iona 8:00 PM ESPN3, WatchESPN
Milwaukee at Youngstown State 7:45 PM ESPN3, WatchESPN