This Saturday, pre-season favorite Ohio State travels to Madison to take on the Wisconsin Badgers, while Pat Chambers's Penn State team, which has struggled through some pretty vicious growing pains, hits the road for Iowa City to take on Fran McCaffery and the Iowa Hawkeyes. To cap off the night and Indiana-Purdue HATE WEEK, the Hoosiers face the Boilermakers in West Lafayette, looking to stabilize their conference record at 6-6.
On Sunday, Minnesota, 2-4 on the road, travels to Lincoln to take on a not-quite-dead Nebraska team. Michigan concludes their regular season series with Michigan State looking for a 4th consecutive win over the Spartans. Finally, Illinois and Northwestern tip-off during the Super Bowl in Assembly Hall, NU bringing in a 1-5 road record where Illinois is 12-1 at home.
Previews, Predictions and Prognostication After The Jump!
The Penn St. Nittany Lions have found a very good scoring option in Tim Frazier; Frazier is 2nd in the Big Ten in scoring with 18 points per game and leads the Big Ten in assists with 6.3 per game. However, Frazier has the dubious distinction of leading the Big Ten in turnovers (with 3.7 per game). Penn State as a team hasn't found much, if any, success shooting the ball on the road. The Nittany Lions have won just a single game away from home (against Boston College in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge) this year. At home, they're a different team entirely, shooting the ball with far greater effectiveness and efficiency.
The Iowa Hawkeyes started off with stunning upsets of Wisconsin and Minnesota on the road...before things began to fall apart and the Hawkeyes lost by 29 and 34 points to Ohio State and Michigan State, respectively. Iowa rebounded from those catastrophes by hammering a fairly decent Michigan team by 16 points in Iowa City, but then lost 3 in a row to fall to 3-6 in the Big Ten. They capped off a sweep of Minnesota earlier this week, and could improve to 5-6 with a win over Penn State.
PREDICTION: This game is a toss-up, but I give the edge to the Hawkeyes at home. Penn State has been downright atrocious away from the Bryce Jordan Center, and Iowa has been respectable at home. IOWA 62, PENN STATE 55
The biggest game of the weekend probably is Wisconsin vs. Ohio State. The Badgers have won every game against the Buckeyes in Madison since Bo Ryan took over, and definitely have motivation could be last year's humiliating defeat in Columbus where the Buckeyes
hacked the 3-point shooting setting shot a ludicrous 93% from beyond the arc. With Jon Diebler off to Paranios B.C. and the game being in Madison instead of Columbus, things will figure much, much differently.
Wisconsin DID lose a pair of early home games to Michigan State and Iowa in which it shot abysmally from the floor (I'm NOT kidding about the abysmal part; Wisconsin was 8 of 50 from beyond the arc in those two games). Since then, they have rebounded to defeat Northwestern, Indiana, and Nebraska at home, and Purdue, Illinois, and Penn State on the road. The Badgers are riding a 6-game winning streak and look to make it 7. A win over Ohio State would improve Bo Ryan to 6-1 all-time against top 5 opponents in Madison (and Ryan's teams have won the last 5).
Ohio State has overwhelmed several teams already this year, thanks to the efforts of Player of the Year Candidate Jared Sullinger's 17.0 points per game and 9.0 rebounds per game. Aaron Craft is 2nd in the Big Ten in assists per game and. They bludgeoned Duke, Indiana, and Florida. However, the Buckeyes have won 0 road games against ranked opponents away from Columbus, and defeated IU, Duke, and Florida at home. They lost to Kansas by 14 (in a game they did not have Sullinger for) and Illinois by 5 (because Brandon Paul went crazy on them).
PREDICTION: The Buckeyes are a damn good team, don't get me wrong, but unless Wisconsin shoots horribly in this game, they probably won't come away with a win. Wisconsin's defense is currently holding teams to 49.5 points per game. Ohio State's road wins have come against the likes of Iowa, Nebraska, and South Carolina (which is 9-12 and 1-6 in the SEC). The Badgers use a heavy dose of Jordan Taylor and Jared Berggren to improve to 8-3 in conference play, but the Buckeyes make them sweat it out with a big run in the 2nd half. Wisconsin 70, Ohio State 65.
Capping off the evening, and HATE WEEK (well, the first edition of it anyway) is Indiana vs. Purdue in West Lafayette. The Boilermakers have been an incredibly tough out in Mackey since Matt Painter's first season, however, they've lost a pair of painful home games to Wisconsin (3-37 all-time at Mackey Arena) and Michigan (22-51 all-time in West Lafayette).
Indiana has had a bit of a problem with turnovers all season long. They have recorded 10 or more turnovers in each and every single conference game this season, and as a result of sloppy ballhandling, have fallen to 5-6 in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers average a whopping 14.2 turnovers per game in conference play, and the problem has been especially bad away from home, where IU has averaged 14.5 per game. As a result, Indiana is just 1-5 away from home in the conference. After starting off highly in the rankings following an undefeated start and a last-second upset of Kentucky, the Hoosiers have tailed off significantly despite the great efforts of freshman phenom Cody Zeller and Christian Watford.
Purdue has been an adventure as well this season. They started off 2-0 in conference play before losing by 20 to Penn State in the Bryce Jordan Center, and lost to Wisconsin at home just 4 days after walloping Minnesota by 13 in Minneapolis. The crux of the matter is that Purdue has also been very, very iffy early on, and Robbie Hummel's shooting stroke from beyond the arc has been absolutely brutal since the start of conference play. Hummel has made just 11 3-point shots on 43 attempts, a 25% success rate. However, Hummel should get some much-needed help as Kelsey Barlow should be near-100% for the game against Indiana.
PREDICTION: Purdue 68, Indiana 60. As has been the issue all year long, IU's turnovers come back to haunt them when they come up empty down the stretch. Purdue ends up shooting a lot of foul shots in the game, and wins the game at the line when IU can't buy a basket.
#3 Ohio State at #19 Wisconsin: 1:00 PM CST
Penn State at Iowa: 2:00 PM CST
Indiana at Purdue: 7:00 PM EST