A spread of five Big Ten match ups will be highlighted by none bigger than Wisconsin verses Iowa in Carver Hawkeye Arena on Saturday. Penn State hopes to make it three straight victories but faces a tough Illinois team on the road. Indiana hosts Rutgers while they look to bounce back from a blowout in West Lafayette. Purdue takes on Northwestern and Nebraska travels to Williams Arena to face the Gophers.
Game of the Day:
#5 Wisconsin vs. Iowa; 12 PM ET; ESPN
After two straight impressive Big Ten victories against Minnesota and Ohio State, the Iowa Hawkeyes looked to be on track to make a run at the Big Ten title; that is, until they went into the Kohl Center to face the formidable Badgers. Finding itself ranked in the Top 25 for the first time this season, Iowa went into Madison with a chip on their shoulders and left beaten and torn with a 50-82 loss. Iowa allowed the Badgers to put up 82 points on nearly 50% shooting. They were out-rebounded by an abysmal 10 board margin, connected on only 40% of their free throws, and were held to a mere 17 points in the first half. Most notably, the Badgers escaped with 0 turnovers. If you're looking for comparison, the last college basketball team to accomplish that feat in a single game did so back in 2009! The Hawkeyes will need to respond.
As Wisconsin will be the clear favorite in this one, Iowa will certainly have a chance given their ability to win at home. The Hawkeyes have only lost at home twice this season (Iowa State, Wisconsin), and could certainly use an energetic crowd to propel their way to victory. Iowa will need their big men to come to the party if they want to stand a chance against Frank Kaminsky and company. In the last meeting between the two, Kaminsky, Dekker, and Hayes all scored in double figures and combined for 24 rebounds. Big men Aaron White and Adam Woodbury combined for just 8 points and 8 rebounds. A home loss for Iowa would mean three straight losses and a digression from their high standing just a week ago.
Needless to say, Iowa will need to be firing on all cylinders if they want to pull this one out. Aaron White will need to show senior leadership, point guard Mike Gessel will have to play to his full potential, and Jarrod Uthoff and Gabriel Olaseni will have to play solid on both ends of the floor to slow down this Wisconsin team.
Penn State vs. Illinois; 1 PM ET; BTN
Penn State comes into the State Farm Center on Saturday with two straight wins under its belt (Rutgers, Minnesota). That being said, the Nittany Lions have yet to pick up a road win in the Big Ten and find themselves in a hole at 2-6 in the Big Ten conference. The Fighting Illini have had a week to prepare for this match up after losing on the road in Minnesota last weekend. The Illini will surely still be shorthanded, but there is a chance that they could see Aaron Cosby or Rayvonte Rice back on the floor in a matter of a few games.
Rutgers vs. #22 Indiana; 3:15 PM ET: BTN
Indiana will use this game against Rutgers to try and get back on track after getting blown out by their inner-state rivals, the Purdue Boilermakers. A 67-83 road loss for the Hoosiers was characterized by 21% shooting from three point range. Rutgers could certainly use a win over the Hoosiers to gain some momentum in the latter half of conference play.
Purdue vs. Northwestern; 6 PM ET; ESPNU
Northwestern gets a must win match up after an improbable loss to the Maryland Terrapins last Sunday. Though on paper the Terps were expected to win, they had to make an incredible comeback to do so and barely escaped with a 68-67 victory. Purdue, on the other hand, has looked solid in their last two wins against Iowa and Indiana, but will need to show its ability to win on the road in the Big Ten conference.
Nebraska vs. Minnesota; 6 PM ET; BTN
Nebraska and Minnesota will both desperately need this win to keep tourney hopes alive this season. Though they had a solid win over Illinois last Saturday, the Gophers still sit at 2-7 in the Big Ten conference and remain in need of a late-season comeback. Nebraska dropped their last game to Michigan and now sits at 4-4 in the conference with a 12-8 record overall.