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12/10 Big Ten Preview: Michigan Heads To Pauley Pavilion To Battle No.2 UCLA

11 Big Ten teams are in action Saturday, including five power conference match-ups.

NCAA Basketball: 2K Classic-Michigan vs Southern Methodist Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota was the only Big Ten team in action on Friday; the Gophers beat Georgia Southern 86-49 at Williams Arena in Minnesota. Eleven teams from the Big Ten will play on Saturday, including some huge games on national television.

It’s been a great week for the Big Ten conference so far. As of Friday night, the conference held a 10-3 win/loss record since Monday. Some highlights from the week include Iowa’s 78-64 win over No.25 Iowa State on Thursday in the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series and Michigan’s 53-50 win over Texas on Tuesday night.

With conference play less than three weeks away, the Big Ten has looked like one of the most balanced conferences from top-to-bottom. Saturday’s slate of games will feature five games versus “Power Seven” schools and six games against mid-major conference teams.

You can preview all of Saturday’s games below, including betting odds provided by Covers.com.

Big Ten Game of the Day:

-No.20 Michigan (7-2) at No.2 UCLA (9-0)

  • Time/TV: 8:00 P.M / ESPN2
  • Covers Spread: UCLA (-9.5)

Michigan travels all the way to California for their showdown with UCLA on Saturday night. The match-up is one of two Big Ten games that feature ranked teams facing each other.

UCLA is undefeated this year and gained national attention by knocking off the No.1 ranked Kentucky Wildcats. In addition to their win over Kentucky, the Bruins have also beaten Nebraska and Texas A&M.

UCLA is led by Lonzo Ball, a freshman from Chino Hills, California who could potentially be the No.1 overall NBA Draft pick next season. In a recent SB Nation article by Ricky O’Donnell, Ball is said to have been putting on “the greatest show in college basketball.” High praise for a player with less than ten games under his belt, but his 14.6 points and 9.3 assists per game show the type of unique talent he is.

Crazy things happen when you get two powerhouse programs on the same court, could Michigan do to UCLA what they did to Kentucky? This game will be must-see TV, watch to see if Michigan’s senior leader Derrick Walton Jr. can slow Lonzo Ball down at least a little bit. If the Wolverines can keep this game from getting out of hand, it will be a win for their program.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Michigan

The Rest:

-Central Michigan (8-2) at Illinois (7-3)

  • Time/TV: 3:00 P.M/ BTN Plus
  • Covers Spread: Illinois (-10.5)

The Illini have been rolling as of late, winning three straight games and improving their record to 7-3. Last Saturday, they beat a tough VCU team by 18 points, easily their best win of the season. As well as Illinois has been playing, they have been disappointing Against The Spread, with 2-5 record overall. KenPom currently has Illinois rated 71st out of 351 teams.

Public betting action for this game has been on Central Michigan, largely due to their overblown 8-2 record and double-digit point spread. When you dig a little deeper, you see that the Chippewas record is hollow, having won zero games versus “Power Seven” schools. Illinois will balance out their ATS record here.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Illinois

-Houston Baptist (3-4) at No.9 Indiana (7-1)

  • Time/TV: 4:00 P.M/ BTN
  • Covers Spread: Indiana (-26)

Since being upset by Fort Wayne last month, the Hoosiers have won four straight. Their schedule so far has been a tale of two extremes, with not too much middle ground. Wins over Kansas and North Carolina have been their only games versus “Power Seven” schools, with their other seven games coming against a bunch of small schools like UML and SIUE. This game is another one of those capital letter match-ups, as they play HBU on Saturday. Houston Baptist sits at No.266 in the newest KenPom ratings, the Hoosiers should avoid another upset here.

This will be a nice tune-up for Indiana as they get ready for in-state rival Butler next Saturday. The 26 points is a lot to give up, but I’m leaning towards a blow-out.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Indiana

-Saint Peters (4-4) at Maryland (9-1)

  • Time/TV: 12:00 P.M/ BTN
  • Covers Spread: Maryland (-13)

Yeah, so Maryland has a nice looking record, sitting at first place in the Big Ten with a 9-1 record. They deserve credit for winning nine games but it hasn’t exactly been a strong 9-1. The Terps only three “Power Seven” wins were by one-point each and they haven’t blown out the smaller schools they have played. The only win by 20+ points came against Division III St.Marys (MD). With all those close games, it’s plain to see why their record against the spread has been poor (2-4).

Saint Peters is led by senior big-man Quadir Welton, a player who could have a field day versus Maryland. The Terps will be without their best rim protector, Damonte Dodd, who is sidelined for two weeks with a wrist injury. Maryland can use a blow out win here, but it could be closer than they would like.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Saint Peters

-Tennessee Tech (4-6) at Michigan State (6-4)

  • Time/TV: 2:00 P.M/ BTN
  • Covers Spread: Michigan State (-20)

The Spartans have been sort of disappointing this season, especially in the public eye. That 6-4 record just doesn’t look good for a team who is routinely in the national title conversation. However, if you look deeper into those four losses, you see that they’re all against Top-25 competition. The experience gained in those losses will help them later on in the year. It’s safe to say that Michigan State learned a lot more from playing good opponents than they would have from easy cupcake games.

Michigan State is without their leading scorer, Miles Bridges, who will miss time due to an ankle injury. The Spartans are hopeful he will be back in time for the start of Big Ten conference play.

Tennessee Tech is rated No.296 in the most recent KenPom ratings and are currently 1-4 on the road this season. Michigan State should take care of business at the Breslin Center, they are simply in a different class than Tennessee Tech.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Michigan State

-Nebraska (5-4) at No.3 Kansas (8-1)

  • Time/TV: 3:15 P.M/ ESPN
  • Covers Spread: Kansas (-19.5)

This match-up will bring on nostalgia for any Big-12 fan who was bummed that Nebraska skipped town. The Jayhawks and Cornhuskers used to play twice a year, but haven’t met since they were both members of the Big-12 in 2011. Kansas has won the last 17 games against Nebraska, with the most recent win on February 15th, 2004.

According to ESPN’s BPI, Kansas has a 96 percent chance to win Saturday’s game versus Nebraska. The Cornhuskers look improved over last year’s disaster season, but not enough to take down the Jayhawks or even keep it close.

These two schools are less than 200 miles apart, I think Allen Fieldhouse is going to be rockin’! It will be worth watching this game just to see how wild and crazy it gets. Nebraska keeps it close for 10 minutes, but it eventually gets out of hand.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Kansas

-UConn (4-4) at Ohio State (7-2)

  • Time/TV: 6:00 P.M/ BTN
  • Covers Spread: Ohio State (-8.5)

One of the more underrated games of the day, this will be a great way to spend two hours. UConn is fresh off a win over No.22 Syracuse and looking to push their record over .500. The Buckeyes just lost to FAU in overtime and are hungry to knock off a big-time program.

Public action has been heavily on the Huskies so far. When bettors see Ohio State lose to a no-name school and UConn beating a big-name school like Syracuse, they tend to overreact. The Buckeyes are the better team here, it will be close at halftime but they will pull away late.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Ohio State

-Penn State (6-4) at Pittsburgh (7-2)

  • Time/TV: 2:30 P.M/ CBS Sports Network
  • Covers Spread: Pittsburgh (-5)

Even before the Nittany Lions got blown out by George Mason, they had been voted as the last place team in our BT Powerhouse rankings. It doesn’t look like they will be moving up anytime soon, especially since the loss to George Mason was at home and that Mason is a mediocre mid-major school. If PSU winds up finishing below Rutgers at the end of the year can Pat Chambers keep his job? One winning season in six years shouldn’t be able to fly in the Big Ten. They’re headed nowhere fast and need a shake-up.

Pittsburgh has flown under the radar this year, not getting much attention despite beating Maryland and Marquette. It seems like they should be more than five point favorites here, but it makes some sense because they have been weak at home so far. Either way, Pitt should roll over Penn State in this battle for Pennsylvania.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Pittsburgh

-Cleveland State (3-5) at No.19 Purdue (7-2)

  • Time/TV: 12:00 P.M/ ESPN3
  • Covers Spread: Purdue (-26)

Purdue has one of the best front-courts in the country with Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas. At this point, it’s safe to say that they have a serious chance to make a deep NCAA Tournament run.

This game versus the No. 223 rated KenPom team is nothing more than a tune-up for next Saturday. Purdue will play in their sixth consecutive Crossroads Classic, a showcase that features the best college teams from the state of Indiana (Butler, Notre Dame, and Indiana are the other three). The Boilermakers have never won a game in the Crossroads Classic and could potentially be looking past Cleveland State a little bit.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Cleveland State

-Rutgers (8-1) at Stony Brook (3-5)

  • Time/TV: 7:00 P.M/ ESPN3
  • Covers Spread: OFF

The red-hot Scarlet Knights go back to their head coaches stomping grounds on Saturday. First year coach Steve Pikiell coached at Stony Brook for 11 seasons and led them to four regular-season conference titles.

Rutgers hasn’t played many good teams and it isn’t going to be much harder here. I will leave a small chance for an upset because of all the emotions that are factored in. Hopefully Rutgers can take care of business and improve to 9-1.

  • Pick: Rutgers

-No. 17 Wisconsin (8-2) at No.10 Marquette (7-2)

  • Time/TV: 2:00 P.M/ FS1
  • Covers Spread: Wisconsin (-4)

This match-up makes for a nice little rivalry game out of the state of Wisconsin. The two schools play each other every year and over the past 10 years neither team has won back-to-back games.

In the past 17 meetings between the two schools, the underdog has covered the spread 14 times. Both teams are battle-tested so far this year, but I see Marquette keeping the ATS underdog trend alive.

Pick Against The Spread: Marquette