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1/17 Big Ten Preview: Ohio State looks to stay perfect in conference play

Recently ranked Ohio State travels to Illinois to play Northwestern to remain in first in the Big Ten.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight’s Big Ten slate features a game between two NCAA tournament hopefuls, and a game between two teams trying not to finish last in the Big Ten. No. 22 Ohio State travels to Illinois to face a Northwestern team that just suffered a devastating loss to Indiana in which they only managed to score 46 points. Meanwhile the Buckeyes have won their past five games including wins over No. 9 Michigan State (ranked No. 1 at the time) and Maryland who figures to consistently compete for a top four spot in the Big Ten.

You can preview both of the games below. All spreads are based on ESPN.

Game of the Day

- No.22 Ohio State Buckeyes at Northwestern Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 9:00PM ET BTN
  • ESPN Spread: Ohio State (-4)

Keita Bates-Diop, the 6-foot-7 junior forward out of Illinois, comes back to his home state averaging 20.3 points per game and 8.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 41 percent from three point land. Bates-Diop has scored 20 plus points his past four games and is one of the biggest reason the Buckeyes have succeeded like they have this season.

Bates-Diop has went right by some of the Big Ten’s best defenders this year, but tonight a matchup with Northwestern forward Vic Law awaits the star Ohio State forward.

Law imposes a difficult task for Bates-Diop and many other Big Ten opponents, for Law’s tall body but surprising agility and quickness makes it difficult for players to drive and shoot over him. Who knows, if Law manages to shut down Bates-Diop, maybe Northwestern pulls of the upset.

However, home games for the Wildcats don’t really pose a threat to opposing teams, as their stadium on campus is going under renovations, forcing Northwestern to play without most of their student section. Northwestern is going to need a large and rowdy home crowd if they want to win this game.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Ohio State

The Rest

- Iowa Hawkeyes at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET BTN
  • ESPN Spread: Rutgers (-1)

Iowa at Rutgers, a tale of two bottom tier teams in the Big Ten, will most likely be a tightly contested game, but not as much intriguing.

Iowa is coming off a nice long six day break, but right before that they barely managed to beat Illinois, a team that has failed to win a Big Ten game so far. That also happens to be the Hawkeyes only Big Ten win, losing by double digits in three out of their five losses.

Rutgers on the other hand has shown glimpses of promise, beating No. 19 Seton Hall and only losing by four at Michigan State. Part of those glimpses have been because of Corey Sanders, Rutgers star point guard, who has averaged 14.2 points per game and 3.3 assists per game this season.

As Sanders goes, so does Rutgers, and he may be too much for Jordan Bohannon, Iowa’s starting point guard, to handle on both sides of the ball. If Sanders plays well, Rutgers win a tight game against the Hawkeyes.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Rutgers