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11/16 Big Ten Preview: Xavier-Wisconsin headlines a five game slate

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Wisconsin looks for a big win over a ranked opponent while other Big Ten teams try to stay undefeated

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

So far, this week has been an entertaining one for Big Ten Basketball, with Michigan State and Duke facing off on Tuesday and the Gavitt Tipoff games starting off yesterday. Today, their are five big ten teams in action that have a combined record of 10-0 and they are all looking to stay undefeated.

The main game to watch is the late one, as Wisconsin hosts #15 Xavier for their first test of the season in the Gavitt Tipoff Games, while Nebraska kicks off the day of games at 6:30 against the 2-0 St Johns Red Storm. Ohio State, Michigan and Iowa all play games where they are KenPom 15 point favorites at home.

Game of the Night:

-No. 15 Xavier Musketeers at Wisconsin Badgers

  • Time/TV: 8:30 PM ET- FS1
  • KenPom Spread: Wisconsin (-3)

By far the game of the day features the Wisconsin Badgers (2-0) and the 15th ranked team in the country, Xavier. Ethan Happ came into the season as one of the nation’s best big men and he has not disappointed. In the first two games, Happ is averaging 16 points and 11 rebounds a game, while shooting over 57 percent from the field. He will have to play like a superstar for Wisconsin to stay with Xavier

Xavier comes into the game with their own superstar in Trevon Bluiett, who is averaging 25.5 points per game, 7 boards per game and 3 assists per game. Xavier has 4 starters so far averaging double digits in points with Bluiett, J.P. Macura (16.0), Tyrique Jones (15.0) and Kaiser Gates (13.0). This is Xavier’s first actual test this season, so it will be interesting to see if this high powered offense can keep it up.

  • Pick against the Spread: Xavier

The Rest:

-Nebraska Cornhuskers at St. John’s Red Storm

  • Time/TV: 6:30 PM ET- FS1
  • KenPom Spread: St. John’s (-10)

For the first game of the Gavitt Tipoff Games double header, we will see Nebraska take on St. John’s. This will be a fun match up of teams that have plenty of potential, but also question marks.

Nebraska is 2-0, but had a scare in their opener against Eastern Illinois, only winning by four and needing two huge baskets from Glynn Watson Jr. Their second game was handled easier as they defeated North Texas 86-67, thanks to 18 points from James Palmer Jr. They are 10-point underdog according to KenPom in this one, so they must play clean, limit turnovers and control the boards as they have a +13 advantage on the Red Storm this season in that category.

St. Johns is also 2-0 and have not had any trouble yet, but Nebraska is the most talented team they have faced by far. Sophomore Marcus Lovett has led the way scoring wise for the Red Storm with 19 a game and Shamorie Pond has been their all around player, averaging 18 points a game, eight boards, five assists and two steals. All of the starters are averaging double digits, so that diverse scoring will be a key against the Cornhuskers and moving the ball around to everyone.

  • Pick against the Spread: St. John’s

-Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Michigan Wolverines

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET- BTN2Go
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan (-21)

Michigan is coming into this one as a heavy favorite against the Golden Eagles. The Wolverines are 2-0 on the year and they have looked decent so far, handling North Florida at home and then beating a decent Central Michigan team. Kentucky transfer Charles Matthews has looked great in his first two games in a Michigan uniform, averaging 16.5 points per game while shooting almost 50 percent from the field.

Duncan Robinson is averaging 15 a game while Moe Wagner is putting up 14 and 11 a game, respectively. Look for the Wolverines to keep the ball moving and attempt to keep Southern Miss guessing this whole game.

For the Golden Eagles, they will have to rely heavy on their main ball handlers and scorers to try and keep themselves in this one. Guard Tyree Griffin had a huge first game, putting up 21 points, 13 boards and five assists. Dominic Magee also had a good opening game, as he put up 15 points and seven boards. Look for these two to handle the ball often and get many looks throughout the game

  • Pick against the Spread: Michigan

-Texas Southern Tigers at Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET/BTN
  • KenPom Spread: Ohio State (-15)

The Buckeyes were picked at the beginning of the season to finish at the bottom of the Big Ten in Chris Holtmann’s first season, but through the first two games they have looked pretty solid. They have handled their first two opponents easily and are a heavy favorite at home against Texas Southern. Keita Bates-Diop, JaeSean Tate and CJ Jackson have all played well so far, but we will see come later in the season if their lack of depth will hurt them. Guys like Kyle Young and Kaleb and Andre Wesson need to play well and provide solid minutes off the bench.

Texas Southern has had a rough start to the year, dropping their first two games to Gonzaga and Washington State. Their non-conference schedule does not get any easier, as they play OSU, Kansas, Syracuse, Oregon, TCU and Baylor. They will need guys like Demontrae Jefferson, Donte Clark, Kevin Scott and Trayvon Reed will have to play very well if the Tigers want to stay in the game at Value City Arena.

  • Pick against the Spread: Ohio State

-Grambling Tigers at Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Time/TV: 8:05 PM ET/BTN2Go
  • KenPom Spread: Iowa (-29)

In our most lopsided match up of the day, Iowa is a 29 point favorite against the #345 KenPom ranked Grambling. Iowa comes into the match up 2-0 with easy wins and a high scoring offense. With no clear offensive leader, the Hawkeyes have been getting everyone involved and keeping the rotation ever changing, trying to find the right one. With them facing one of the worst teams in College Basketball, this should continue and everyone will see some action.

Grambling is 0-1 with a 30-point loss to VCU on the road and they will have another tough test in Iowa City. Diontae Jones and Shirmane Thomas have led the way for the Tigers in scoring, averaging 16 and 14 a game respectively. They will both need to have huge games offensively and hit the defensive boards hard of they want to stay in this game.

  • Pick against the Spread: Iowa

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Season record vs. KenPom Spread: 0-0