This Week in Big Ten Men's Basketball 1/30

Big Ten Standings (As of Monday, January, 30th)
#17 Maryland 7-1 (19-2)
#10 Wisconsin 7-1 (18-3)
#25 Northwestern 7-2 (18-4)
#23 Purdue 6-3 (17-5)
Michigan State 5-4 (13-9)
Indiana 4-5 (14-8)
Michigan 4-5 (14-8)
Iowa 4-5 (12-10)
Penn State (12-10)
Nebraska 4-5 (10-11)
Minnesota 3-6 (15-7)
Illinois 3-6 (13-9)
Ohio State 3-6 (13-9)
Rutgers 1-8 (12-10)
Tuesday, January 31
7 PM Iowa @ Rutgers, Big Ten Network
Iowa will take a big trip out to New Jersey to play the Scarlet Knights at the Louis Brown Athletic Center. Home games are often a blessing in the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights ranked outside the 100 in attendance last year averaging 4,653 a game, filling just over half of their arena. Iowa is high scoring and Rutgers just gets 67 points per game. Rutgers only allows around 65 a game, while Iowa allows 78. The Hawkeyes just ended a three-game skid with a big win over Ohio State. Rutgers last three includes a win, a blowout loss to Maryland, and an OT loss to Wisconsin. These two played earlier this year in Iowa City with the Hawkeyes coming away with a 68-63 win. Iowa won last and is carrying momentum.
Prediction: Iowa 73-68
7 PM #17 Maryland @ Ohio State, ESPN
Maryland is an on a six game win streak and rolling into Columbus this weekend. The Terrapins and Buckeyes have yet to meet this season and this game should be good. Maryland is averaging 75 points a game to Ohio State’s 73. Maryland also has an edge in the defense only allowing 65 a game to the Buckeyes’ 68. Maryland poured 85 on Minnesota last game, while Ohio State’s defense helped in their 78-72 win over the Golden Gophers. If Ohio State is able to contain the guards of Maryland, pull in the rebounds limiting second-chance points and keep a field goal percentage above 58%, they will have a very good chance.
Prediction: Ohio State 76-75
9 PM #10 Wisconsin @ Illinois, Big Ten Network
The best team in the Big Ten will head to Illinois to take on Malcolm Hill and company. The Badgers and Illini both put up 75 a game but Illinois is allowing a staggering 72 a game to Wisconsin’s 60. Wisconsin is favored by 6, but could there be an upset? Wisconsin sits at 5-0 in their last five with two OT wins. Illinois is 1-4 with the most recent win coming on the 25th against Iowa. Wisconsin may be tired, but they are veteran led and have major big game experience.
Prediction: Wisconsin 83-68
Wednesday, February 1
6:30 PM Penn State @ Indiana, Big Ten Network
Assembly Hall is a very hard place to play for anyone, especially for a team in the lower end of the Big Ten. With injuries mounting for the Hoosiers, this game will be very close. Penn State lost earlier this year to Indiana, 78-75 at PSU, but this time Blackman Jr. and Anunoby are out. Forget the stats before this for Indiana; they are not as good without their two stars. They only managed 60 points in a loss to Michigan. Still, in three of their last five, Penn State did not even manage 60. Expect a low scoring affair in Bloomington. I wouldn’t be surprised if this game went to an overtime and still neither team managed 70 points.
Prediction: 62-57 Indiana
8:30 PM #25 Northwestern @ #23 Purdue
Northwestern is ranked!!! But not for long. Purdue with their solid bigs and National Player of the Year candidate, Caleb Swanigan, are averaging an impressive 82 a game and giving up 66. Northwestern is holding their own defensively, 63 a game, but cannot put up the same offensive firepower, 75 points per game. Northwestern is averaging over 75 a game in its last five, but take out their 89 point performance and they fall to 72. Purdue, on the other hand, just handed Michigan State an 84 point game along with a 91 point performance against Illinois. I am expecting Purdue to continue their roll in conference play. Northwestern will not have an answer for the Boilermaker bigs.
Prediction: Purdue 89-77
Thursday, February 2
7 PM Michigan State @ Nebraska, ESPN
Michigan State just came off of a closer than wanted game against rival Michigan. Still, that score did not tell how much control the Spartans had on the game. Michigan State and Nebraska are low scoring offenses at 72 a game, but MSU has relied on its defense to get the job done. Nebraska has had an up and down season now, losing 5 in a row then beating #20 Purdue. The Spartans similarly lost four out of five then got a much-needed win against Michigan. Expect Nebraska to shoot the ball from three and MSU to rebound and pound the ball. If Nebraska’s shots continue to fall, Izzo will be in trouble. The freshmen foursome of Miles Bridges, Nick Ward, Cassius Winston, and Joshua Langford will drive the ball and post up on less skilled Nebraska big men, drawing fouls.
Prediction: Michigan State 78-66
Saturday, February 4
12 PM #23 Purdue @ #17 Maryland, ESPN
A big time matchup of ranked teams will go on this week in Maryland. Melo Trimble and his excellent guard play will battle the likes of Caleb Swanigan and Purdue. Both teams are predicted to win earlier this week, making for an even better match up. Purdue is putting up 7 more points a game than Maryland (82-75) and has a defense almost equal to that of the Terrapins (66-65). In recent common opponents, Purdue clobbered Illinois 91-68 and Maryland squeaked a 62-56 win out. Maryland was able to go to Iowa and win 84-76 when Purdue dropped the game at Iowa City, 83-78. This will be a game of amazing offense taking on amazing home court defense.
Prediction: Purdue 83-82
1 PM Rutgers @ Penn State, ESPNU
Rutgers will battle it out with an equal Penn State. Both teams average one more point than allowed, Rutgers using defense and Penn State using their offense. Both of their highest scorers is at 12 points per game, rebounder at 8 rebounds, and assist man at around 3.5. These teams are equal! In the last five PSU is 2-3 and Rutgers is 1-4, edged to Penn State. Penn State edged Rutgers 60-47 earlier this year but it’s much different now.
Prediction: Penn State 55-53
4 PM Minnesota @ Illinois, Big Ten Network
Minnesota has slipped on the ice that is the Big Ten, but they are good! They are currently at the 24th best RPI in the nation, a measurement that is strongly used to assess the skill level of teams come March. Illinois, on the other hand, ranks 52nd. On top of RPI, Minnesota has a point differential of 7 compared to 3 for Illinois. Minnesota is currently on a downward spiral, losing five in a row but expect them to get out in a close one in Champaign. Illinois will put up a fight, but the Nate Mason led Golden Gophers should prevail.
Prediction: Minnesota 67-63
6 PM Ohio State @ Michigan, ESPN2
Ohio State vs Michigan, the big game... in football. A lowly Buckeyes squad will travel up to Michigan and take on the Wolverines at the Crisler Center. Zak Irvin was held scoreless in their last game against Michigan State, a game where Sparty’s freshmen dominated, but expect him to brush it off. The tandem of Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton will need all the help they can get against Jae’Sean Tate and JaQuan Lyle. Michigan will be shooting deep balls all game and Ohio State will likely push in transition. If Michigan is hitting their shots like they did in their 91-85 win against Nebraska and 90-60 win over Indiana, they will win. But, if the Ohio State defense is able to force turnovers from a lower skilled rotation and limit the success of either Irvin or Walton, they will get the victory. This rivalry game will be close and very high scoring. Like all rivalry games, everything that happened so far doesn’t matter.
Prediction: Michigan 88-87
Sunday, February 5