Game of the Day: #6 Wisconsin vs. Michigan; 7PM ET; ESPN; MICH +10.5
With the recent loss of Big Ten superstar Caris LeVert (14.9 PPG), it appeared as if Michigan's season would be over. After a difficult non-conference schedule with home losses to NJIT and Eastern Michigan, Michigan was showing little to no promise, and the recent season-ending injury of their leading scorer supplied even more doubt upon this Wolverine team. Despite these minor setbacks, Michigan has been able to muster together a respectable 5-2 Big Ten record with losses coming on the road against Purdue and Ohio State. Zak Irvin (13.7 PPG) and Derrick Walton Jr. (10.4 PPG) have started stepping into their roles and providing consistent play for Michigan. They will certainly need to be going when a tough Badger team led by preseason Wooden Award Candidate Frank Kaminsky (16.9 PPG) comes to town.
The Badgers have shown few signs of stopping in Big Ten play, suffering only a head-scratching loss to a Rutgers team that resides at 2-5 in the conference. This loss came without the help of leading scorer Frank Kaminsky (out with a concussion), which led analysts to question Wisconsin's efficiency without their star big man in the lineup. But a recent victory over Iowa with a shocking zero turnovers perpetuated the belief that Wisconsin is the best team in the Big Ten.
Unfortunately for Michigan, Kaminsky will be in the lineup when they face the Badgers on Saturday evening, and Michigan's key to victory will certainly lie in its ability to slow him down. Kaminsky is on of the toughest players to guard in the country because of the way he'll stretch you out. At 7'0'', Kaminsky can certainly play the post and grab rebound (team-high 8.2 per game), but he is also shooting 40% from behind the arc on the season. Despite recent flashes from Michigan's freshman Ricky Doyle, it is going to be a tough task to handle Frank Kaminsky.
#25 Iowa vs. Purdue; 12PM ET; BTN; Purdue -1.5
Both teams in this one are coming off recent losses and are looking to avoid a two game losing streak. Though Iowa has shown impressive flashes throughout the Big ten slate of the season, they were brutally outmatched by Wisconsin and proved that they were receiving a little bit too much praise. Purdue on the other hand looks to alleviate a recent road loss to the Fighting Illini on Wednesday in which leading scorer Kendall Stephens was held scoreless. Certainly he will be key in taking down the Hawkeyes.
Rutgers vs. Penn St; 12PM ET; ESPNU; Penn St. -6.5
If things would finally go Penn State's way on Saturday, we could witness their first Big Ten victory of the season. This opportunity at home against Rutgers is the best one that they're going to get. Penn St. has certainly been close to some key victories, having lost their last three games by less than 7 points in each contest, and is certainly in need of this one.
Illinois vs. Minnesota; 2:15PM ET; BTN; Minn -5
The Illini visit Minneapolis for an interesting showdown between two teams who need the victory to spark them forward in the Big Ten standings. A certainly talented Gophers team has somehow fallen to 1-6 in the conference, whereas an Illini team that's depleted by injuries looks to get back to .500 in conference play. Expect a good one from the Barn.
Michigan State vs. Nebraska; 4PM ET; ESPN; Nebraska +2.5
Here we have another example of a game that realistically could go either way. Nebraska has been an efficient home team over the past few years and has had some success recently in the Pinnacle Center. This will certainly serve as a huge advantage for a Cornhusker squad that has struggled to play consistently all year long. Michigan State on the the other hand has won some big games in the conference thus far (Iowa, Indiana), but will certainly be tested on Saturday evening.