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12/23 Big Ten Preview: Final non-conference games

Preview the Big Ten’s matchups on Friday, including a showdown between Rutgers and Seton Hall.

Green Bay v Wisconsin Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

With conference play set to kick off on Tuesday, Rutgers, Wisconsin and Minnesota prepare for what is poised to be another grueling season of Big Ten basketball. While Wisconsin and Minnesota will simply look to tune their games in easily winnable matchups, Rutgers will take on Seton Hall in an intrastate showdown for the ages.

Big Ten Game of the Day

-Rutgers vs Seton Hall

  • Time/TV: 6:30 PM ET - FS1
  • Vegas Spread: Seton Hall (-9.5)

The Battle of New Jersey will take place tonight at 6:30 as the Scarlet Knights make the drive from Piscataway to Newark to take on the Seton Hall Pirates. Both teams are on fire, as the 11-1 Scarlet Knights are riding a five game winning streak while the Pirates have not lost a game since Nov. 27.

The Scarlet Knights will look to Deshawn Freeman for production tonight as the 6-foot-7 junior forward is averaging 12.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game on the season. Freeman has averaged at least 10 rebounds in three straight games and will need to continue crashing the boards if Rutgers is to take home the “Garden State Hardwood Classic.”

The Pirates are led in scoring by junior guard Khadeen Carrington, who averages 19.2 points per game. With three straight bad shooting nights, the Pirates will need Carrington to break out of his mini funk if they want to improve to 10-2 heading into Big East play.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Rutgers

The Rest:

-Minnesota vs Arkansas State

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET - BTN
  • Vegas Spread: Minnesota (-13)

The Golden Gophers have surprised everybody with their eye-opening start to the season. Richard Pitino’s 11-1 squad is poised for a strong showing in Big Ten play and will have one more non-conference tuneup tonight before taking on Michigan State at home on December 27.

The Arkansas State Red Wolves are 9-3, with a 78-72 win over Georgetown the highlight of their resume. The Red Wolves are led in scoring by Devin Carter, who has averaged 17.3 points per game, including a 33 point on Dec. 14 against Tennessee-Martin. Deven Simms has scored at least 15 points in three straight games for Arkansas State, and is shooting an impressive 52 per cent from the field.

Minnesota has the 20th best Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (92 points allowed per 100 possessions), second only to Purdue in the Big Ten. Pitino will look for his squad to continue their defensive dominance before taking on a Michigan State team that will probably be without Miles Bridges for their Big Ten opening matchup.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Minnesota

-Florida A&M vs Wisconsin

  • Time/TV: 9:00PM ET - BTN
  • Vegas Spread: N/A

This one won’t be pretty. The Rattlers are 2-9 and currently riding an eight game losing streak. A 39 point loss to Southeastern Louisiana on Dec. 12 is the perfect indicator of how far off this program is from competing with the likes of a major conference power like Wisconsin. The Rattlers are 347th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (90.2 points per 100 possessions) and 339th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (112.8 points per 100 possessions) according to KenPom.

The Badgers three-headed monster of Bronson Koenig, Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ will have plenty of opportunity to pad their stat lines, while Greg Gard should be able to get his bench solid minutes before Rutgers comes to town to kick off Big Ten play on Dec. 27.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Wisconsin