Three games fill the docket for Tuesday's Big Ten schedule. Newly ranked #25 Iowa visits #6 Wisconsin while Minnesota tries for its second straight conference win at Nebraska. Elsewhere, Rutgers hosts Michigan in the Wolverines' first game without Caris LeVert. Here are the breakdown of tonight's games.
Game of the Night
#25 Iowa Hawkeyes @ #6 Wisconsin Badgers - 9 ET (ESPN)
So far this season, Iowa (13-5) has done a suburb job of flying under the radar. They've won and lost the games they should have, boasting nothing spectacular but playing solid team basketball. This game provides them the opportunity to show critics they have ability to compete with the big boys. Senior and leading scorer Aaron White leads his team in search of their first win at Wisconsin since 2011, when he was just a freshman. While White is a solid player, the Hawkeyes thrive on sharing the rock with their various guys in a nine-man deep lineup. Role players will need to step up in order to compete with a more talented Badgers team.
A key factor will be center Adam Woodbury. One of the biggest issues that many teams face when playing Wisconsin is figuring out how to guard Frank Kaminsky. Fortunately for Iowa, having a 7'1'' guy in Woodbury makes that task feasible. The Sioux City native is coming off a strong 13 point 10 rebound performance against Ohio State and will need to play well on both ends to provide Iowa with a presence in the post. While scoring on Kaminsky will likely not be the priority, how he plays on defense will play an important part in setting the tone of the game.
Wisconsin (16-2) bounced back nicely from their stunning loss to Rutgers with an easy 15-point win over Nebraska Thursday. Keep in mind, the loss came without Kaminsky in the lineup, thus proving the impact of his game on the court. Assuming Bo Ryan's guys are back to normal, as they appear, they should be on the top of their game. If Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes continue to play solid, its difficult to imagine the Badgers dropping 2 of 3 to lesser teams in the conference. Also, playing in the Kohl Center never hurts.
Michigan Wolverines @ Rutgers Scarlet Knights - 6:30 ET (BTN)
For Michigan (11-7), losing Caris LeVert makes for a big issue. The Wolverines' leader and leading scorer was announced to be out for the remainder of the season following an injury to his left foot during their win over Northwestern on Saturday. This leaves a vacancy that will need to be filled if this team is serious about wanting to make a run at the tournament. Zak Irvin will need to step up and be apart of that solution. Only a sophomore, LeVert's injury opens up the opportunity for Irvin to take the reins on the offensive side of the ball. Irvin is averaging 13.9 PPG, only slightly behind his now sidelined teammate's 14.9. Also Spike Albrecht will return to the starting lineup after missing last game. His hustle and leadership will need to guide the Wolverines without LeVert in the picture. Those two are also the only ones remaining from Michigan's national runner-up team two years ago. His experience will now be needed more than ever.
While Rutgers (10-9) got their big win of the year over Wisconsin, they've again proven to be the same team as before. After losing to #14 Maryland, they dropped one by nine to Minnesota, giving the Gopher's their first win of the Big Ten season. Even though Michigan is battered, the Wolverines get the edge in this one due to talent, experience and the realization of something to play for.
Minnesota Golden Gophers @ Nebraska Cornhuskers - 8:30 ET (BTN)
Minnesota (12-7) finally got their first Big Ten win with an 89-80 victory over Rutgers Saturday. They will look to keep the streak rolling Tuesday when they visit Nebraska (10-7) in Lincoln tonight. This game looks to shape up as a battle between the Gopher offense and the Husker D. Minnesota has four players averaging double figures and will fight to keep it that way against against a stingy Nebraska squad that's searching for a win between games vs. Wisconsin and Michigan State. However, Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields always bring the firepower for the Huskers and have the potential to dominate any game. This should be the closest of any of the games Tuesday and can swing either way depending on who comes out ready to play.