The Big Ten is setting up for a Saturday for of action that could have a large impact on the Big Ten race and several teams chances at making the NCAA Tournament.
Game of the Day
#23 Ohio State vs. Michigan State; 12 PM ET; MSU -1.5
After coming off Big Ten road wins against Northwestern and Penn State, Michigan State and Ohio State respectively will square off in East Lansing for the first meeting between the two teams this season. Both sit in relatively good position in the Big Ten standings; Ohio State sits tied for second at 8-4 while Michigan State is close behind in third at 7-4. While it seems improbable for either team to catch Wisconsin in the race for the Big Ten title, both will certainly be looking to make an important statement in this game as well as boost their tournament resumès.
While historically playing very well in the Breslin Center, Michigan State has let opponents put up fights in its home arena recently. In its last three home games, Michigan State has lost to Illinois, gone to overtime with Michigan, and let Penn State hang around until the very end. This conundrum has been due particularly to missed free throws and poor execution down the stretch. In their last home game against Illinois, the Spartans shot an abysmal 39% from the charity stripe. In the two outings prior to the one against the Illini, the Spartans shot a less than impressive 64%. If the Spartans want to win at home, they will need to get their free throw shooting figured out quickly. Also, the Spartans will need contributions from more than just Valentine, Trice, and Dawson. Look for someone like Bryn Forbes to have a good game if Michigan State outlasts the Buckeyes.
After winning 5 of their last 6 Big Ten games, the Buckeyes find themselves in prime position, ranked in the Top 25 after a brief exit of the poles. The Buckeyes are led by freshman point guard D'Angelo Russell (19.4 PPG) and feed off his aggressiveness on a nightly basis. In Ohio State's most recent outing though, Sam Thompson dropped 22 points and led the Buckeyes with his intensity. Though difficult road games haven't treated the Buckeyes particularly well this season, the Buckeyes are posied and functioning well right when they need to be. Look for Ohio State to put up a fight in East Lansing.
#19 Maryland vs. Penn State; 8:30 PM ET; BTN; PSU -1.5
Maryland has had some tough outings on the road as of recent. Double digit losses at Iowa, Ohio State, and Indiana have proven that Maryland's Big Ten honeymoon may be merging into a rude awakening. That being said, this team still finds itself tied for second place in the race for the Big Ten title. A game in University Park against the Nittany Lions is never easy, and subsequently, the 19th ranked Maryland Terps are actually expected to lose according to the spread. If D.J. Newbill and company get things going early and Maryland falls into a slump, it could be a long night for the Terrapins.