This Week in Big Ten Men's Basketball 2/13

Standings (As of Monday, February, 13th)
#11 Wisconsin 10-2 (21-4)
#23 Maryland 9-3 (21-4)
#16 Purdue 9-3 (20-5)
RV Northwestern 8-4 (19-6)
Michigan State 7-5 (15-10)
Minnesota 6-6 (18-7)
Michigan 6-6 (16-9)
Iowa 6-7 (14-12)
Penn State 6-7 (14-12)
Indiana 5-8 (15-11)
Ohio State 5-8 (15-11)
Nebraska 489 (10-14)
Illinois 4-9 (14-12)
Rutgers 2-11 (13-13)
Tuesday, February, 14th
7 PM, Rutgers @ #16 Purdue, Big Ten Network
Rutgers will head into one of the best venues in America when they step up to battle the Boilermakers of Purdue this Tuesday. Purdue is riding Caleb Swanigan, who is still closely in the chase for National Player of the Year. This game should be in Purdue’s favor from the get-go. Purdue is averaging 81 points per game and allowing 66.6. Rutgers is scoring 66.6 per game... But, Rutgers has a chance. Rutgers beat Nebraska who beat Purdue, sure that’s a stretch, but it’s possible. If Corey Sanders is able to up his production and hit the deep ball, Rutgers would be able to keep up with Purdue.
Prediction: Purdue 87-67
9 PM, Penn State @ Nebraska, Big Ten Network
This matchup is intriguing because of two players specifically. Tai Webster and Mike Watkins have been bright spots for their respective teams this year. While the results may not be what they’ve been wanting, they have proved themselves. Watkins has been making a name for himself on the defensive end and Webster with his offensive production. For two equal teams in point differential, this offense versus defense matchup will prove to be the one to watch. If Webster is able to hit his shot and draw fouls on Watkins, Nebraska will win. If Watkins holds down the paint and is able to add 10 on the offensive end, Penn State will win.
Prediction: Nebraska 75-72
9 PM, Ohio State @ Michigan State, ESPN
Michigan State got the win against a decent Iowa team and now they must hold down the fort against a better Ohio State team. This is the same Ohio State that beat the Spartans earlier this year, but Michigan State has changed. Nick Ward and Miles Bridges have finally figured out how to work their combo together and should cause some nightmare matchups like they did against Iowa. Turnovers will decide the game. Ohio State’s good defense the first time around caused the Spartans to turn it over too much, costing them the game. If MSU can break OSU’s press late in the game and not make bad passes, they got it. If OSU is able to repeat their defensive masterpiece, expect a resume-building road win.
Prediction: Michigan State 77-69
Wednesday, February, 15th
7 PM, #23 Maryland @ RV Northwestern, Big Ten Network
A few weeks ago, Northwestern was ranked and ready to make the jump from a second thought to elite. Reality hit and now they’re outside of the rankings, but just barely. This game is important for both of these teams because both are looking to solidify their chance at being a top 5 seed this tournament. Maryland needs this win for their best win, while Northwestern needs it to stay relevant. Northwestern is coming off a big win against Wisconsin and Maryland lost its momentum dropping two of its last three. Expect a good game with Bryant McIntosh going head to head with Melo Trimble.
Prediction: Northwestern: 77-75
9 PM, Indiana @ Minnesota, Big Ten Network
IU versus the Golden Gophers of Minnesota; a game between two teams heading in opposite directions. Indiana started the year off getting number one votes, but injuries took their toll and now they may not get into the tournament. Minnesota looked hot then struggled in the Big Ten. A recent spark has shot them back into the tournament field. Minnesota is hot and I expect them to keep it up, especially at home against a struggling IU. Thomas Bryant will face many double teams and Nate Mason will be able to work without James Blackmon Jr. being there.
Prediction: Minnesota 77-70
Thursday, February, 16th
7 PM, #11 Wisconsin @ Michigan, ESPN
Michigan got back on track with a huge thumping of Michigan State and, still playing for the tournament, this win would surely shoot them into the serious bubble talk. Wisconsin will come into this game not losing back to back all year and they plan on keeping that trend. The Badgers are the most well-rounded team in the Big Ten and are facing a Michigan team who bombs the three. If Michigan can hit the three like they did against MSU, they should run away with it. If Wisconsin is able to control the pace of play and slow the game down, making every possession count, the Badgers will win.
Prediction: Wisconsin 66-59
Saturday, February, 18th
2 PM, Illinois @ Iowa, Big Ten Network
Carver-Hawkeye Arena is one of the most underrated venues in all of college basketball. Expect the arena to be rocking when the Iowa Hawkeyes host the Illinois Fighting Illini this Saturday. Both of these teams have slowly seen their NCAA bids slipping away and both have ridden the backs of the two of the Big Ten’s best scorers. Illinois’ Malcolm Hill and Iowa’s Peter Jok are scoring machines. There will be times in the game when the two match-up and may the best scorer win. Iowa is higher scoring, averaging 80 per game and letting up 78. Illinois has more defense, only allowing 71 a game, but they lack offense other than Hill and only score 73 per game. These teams are very even and in even games the advantage goes to the home team.
Prediction: Iowa 78-77
4 PM, Michigan State @ #16 Purdue, ESPN
Michigan State heads down the road to West Lafayette to take on the highest scoring team in the Big Ten. The duo of Miles Bridges and Nick Ward will take on the superstar that is Caleb Swanigan. Last time they met it was a back and forth affair until Purdue pulled away in the end. MSU has matured and that makes for an even better matchup. Coach Tom Izzo is going to need a little March magic early this year if they want to pull off the win, but it is possible. The Purdue offense is great. If it plays average, they should win. If Miles Bridges and Nick Ward are able to play defense the way they are capable of, and the MSU guards can handle the ball, they should win.
Prediction: Purdue 84-82
6 PM, Rutgers @ RV Northwestern, ESPNU
Northwestern opens the week with a tough game on the Big Ten Network and finishes the week with a relatively easy one on national television. Rutgers will be playing for respect and Northwestern is trying to prevent a bad loss that could drop them from the 6-8 seed to the 10-12. Corey Sanders will need to put up the points like he did in the win at Penn State. Northwestern needs to limit the fast break and the quick threes while Rutgers needs to force Northwestern to play uptempo. Whoever controls the pace of play has a huge advantage.
Prediction: Northwestern 60-52
6 PM, Nebraska @ Ohio State, Big Ten Network
Both of these teams had good expectations for the season but slowly saw them slip away. Ohio State is still not out of the tournament, but would have to win out for a real shot. Both teams do not go deep in their rotation, leaving the game a low scoring one played by tired feet. Nebraska dropped the game last time these two met and at home. Ohio State’s home court advantage should be enough to carry them to the finish line. Watch the matchup of Tai Webster and JaQuan Lyle; this matchup could determine the game.
Prediction: Ohio State 76-75
Sunday, February, 19th
1 PM, #23 Maryland @ #11 Wisconsin
Maryland needs big wins to prove to the committee they deserve a top five seed. A win at Wisconsin will be just that. Both teams see this as one of their best chances to prove to the committee they’re the real deal. Wisconsin is hot (minus the Northwestern game), and Maryland has slowed down. Expect the dominance from experienced leaders on the Wisconsin team to prove too much for the young Maryland squad.
Prediction: Wisconsin 73-69
7 PM, Michigan @ Minnesota, Big Ten Network
The final game of the week will be at the Barn as Minnesota looks to continue to build their late season push. Minnesota has been good all season and their little mid-season tumble really hurt them. They fell from the rankings and landed at the bottom of the Big Ten. A month later they have a three-game win streak and look to be in the tournament for the first time under Coach Pitino. Michigan doesn’t offer the type of grind it out defense needed to go into Minnesota and win, but they do offer the type of shooting where they don’t miss. If Michigan jumps on the Gophers early on with their immaculate three-point shooting, they will get the win.
Prediction: Minnesota 82-77