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Big Ten Sunday Preview & Open Thread: Can Illinois and Wisconsin Bounce Back?

Now off to a 0-1 start, the Badgers and Fighting Illini try to earn their first victory of the season after a short turnaround.

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Forget the NFL, college basketball and the Big Ten have a big Sunday slate of games for you. The first two days of the season were filled with high-profile upsets, will the third day hold more of the same?

Game of the Day: Siena at Wisconsin Badgers (8:00pm ET - ESPN U)

As everyone knows, Wisconsin lost their first game of the season against a Western Illinois team that just wouldn't go away. Tonight their task does not get easier. The Saints lost 92-74 to Duke on Friday, after a slow start. Siena has a history of upsets in the NCAA Tournament, but hasn't been since 2010. Last season was a bit of disappointment for the team, finishing at 11-20, but most MAAC projections see them as vastly improved this year.

The key for the Badgers will by getting better shots. Oh, and knocking them down. Wisconsin hit a paltry 35.5% from the field, 64% from the line, and 7-21 from outside. This negated their +8 rebounding margin and limited turnovers. I don't expect a Bo Ryan coached team to drop another game like Friday's, but if they do, it will already be one of the roughest seasons in Madison in years.

The Rest:

Mount St. Marys at Ohio State Buckeyes (Noon ET - ESPN U)

OSU opens their season against an opponent who already has a Big Ten defeat on their record. The Mount fell 80-56 to Maryland on Friday. One player to watch will be freshman of the year candidate JaQuan Lyle. Lyle nearly had a triple-double in the Buckeyes' exhibition, scoring 19 points, grabbing 9 boards, and dishing out 7 assists. Jae'Sean Tate is probably the best player on the team, and although he missed the exhibition, expect him to be healthy enough to start. Ohio State shouldn't have too many problems vanquishing the Mountaineers, but this year has been crazy so far.

Howard at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1:00pm ET - BTN Plus)

The Bison are a middling MEAC team and lost their opener to UMass by six after leading at halftime. Meanwhile, Rutgers got their first win against their Division II Newark campus. Nothing is guaranteed with these Scarlet Knights, but usually MEAC versus Big Ten goes our way. Highly-touted freshman Corey Sanders will make his debut after being suspended for RU-Newark. In the Newark game, Mike Williams led the way with 18 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 steals. Shaquille Doorson is still out with a foot injury.

Vermont at Purdue Boilermakers (2:00pm ET - ESPN3)

No official word if A.J. Hammons will play, mostly because he was never officially suspended. Purdue's opponent, the Catamounts, were CBI semifinalists last season and picked by Mid-Major Madness to finish third in the America East this season. However, they dropped their opener 70-50 at Eastern Michigan. Vermont's tallest player is 6'9" senior Ethan O'Day, so, stop me if you've heard this one before, the Boilers should be able to dominate inside with Isaac Haas, Hammons and Caleb Swanigan. Swanigan and Haas both had double-doubles in Purdue's opener, where they won 81-40 despite shooting just 45.3% from the field. Expect a dominant Boilermaker defense to hold Vermont to extremely low shooting numbers after holding both North Carolina A&T and exhibition opponent UNOH to under 30%.

North Dakota State at Illinois Fighting Illini in Springfield (3:00pm ET - ESPN3)

The Illini's schedule doesn't get much easier after their home loss to North Florida. NDSU is the two-time defending regular season and tournament champion in The Summit League, and knocked off Oklahoma in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The Bison did lose three starters and their coach in the off-season, but the program seems to have a culture of winning well-established. Their season started Friday as they knocked off UC-Davis 79-71 in OT in Davis. Illini transfer Mike Thorne had a field day against the Ospreys with 25 points and 14 rebounds and could again against a smallish Bison squad. NDSU won't be nearly as hot from the outside as North Florida, but a victory will have to be well-earned by John Groce's team.

UL-Monroe at Minnesota Golden Gophers (3:00pm ET - BTN)

Yes, this game is actually on the regular BTN that you can see on your TV! ULM cruised on Friday against DII school McMurry 88-43. The Warhawks finished third in the Sun Belt last season and lost in the CBI finals against Loyola-Chicago. Hot shooting for Joey King and good defense helped the Gophers cruise past UMKC 76-58. The Warhawks should be a slightly tougher opponent, but a good opener by King and Carlos Morris gives Minnesota quality momentum heading into this one.

Coppin State at Iowa Hawkeyes (5:00pm ET - BTN)

The second game on BTN sees the Hawkeyes facing off against a middling MEAC team just like Rutgers. The Eagles finished with an 8-23 record last season and don't appear to have many reasons for optimism after a 107-80 loss to Eastern Kentucky. Iowa on the other hand, bounced back from a shocking exhibition upset by Augustana to win handily against Gardner-Webb 76-59. The Hawkeye defense looked solid as they held the Bulldogs 31.7% from the field and forced 17 turnovers. Coppin State's bigs lack the size and athleticism to match-up with Jarrod Uthoff and Adam Woodbury, so expect both to have good games again as the Hawkeyes try to improve to 2-0 in official games.