The first meeting between Illinois and Michigan State basketball didn't go exactly how the Spartans would have hoped as they fell by three on the road to the Terrence Shannon Jr.-less Illini.
Now that Shannon is back with the team, the game on Saturday against the No. 10 Illini is going to be that much more difficult. This is going to be the most important game on the schedule for the Spartans for about the next month and a win here would go a long way for NCAA Tournament hopes and improved seeding.
A loss, on the other hand, would be crushing.
Let's dive into some bold predictions for the big game.
3. Malik Hall records a double-double
Malik Hall would be the first to tell you that his performance against Minnesota earlier in the week was disappointing. He showed some flashes of that great player we've seen over the past month, but he really disappeared when the team needed him most. That's not going to happen again.
In the first matchup with Illinois, he had 14 points, seven rebounds, and three assists but he finished with four fouls. He'll stay out of foul trouble in this one and give the Illini fits again, putting up a double-double in a huge home game which will be critical come NCAA Tournament seeding time.
Hall knows when he needs to step up and his six-point, four-rebound performance at Minnesota last time out was not enough. He knows that. He'll rebound nicely.
The senior leader will step up in a massive game and finish with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists in one of his best games as a Spartan.