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2/21 Big Ten Preview: Penn State Hosts Michigan

Preview the Big Ten’s action on Wednesday.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday night’s slate is an interesting one for the Big Ten. Not only does it feature the BTPowerhouse Game of the Week, but it also features another that should be huge for Big Ten Tournament seeding.

Let’s take a look at the day’s games.

Game of the Day

-Michigan Wolverines at Penn State Nittany Lions

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Penn State (-3)

This is the type of game that has looked drastically different over the course of the season. Early on, it looked like a great game for Big Ten fans, but faded as Penn State struggled during league play. However, with Penn State’s recent resurgence along with Michigan’s three-game winning streak, this projects to be a huge matchup.

For Michigan, this is a great opportunity to score a nice victory on the road and to keep things rolling heading into the Big Ten Tournament. The Wolverines have won three straight and five of the team’s last six games. Last Sunday’s win over Ohio State was particularly impressive as it improved Michigan to 22-7 on the season.

On the other side, Penn State enters this matchup coming off a tough loss on the road to Purdue. However, like Michigan, things have been trending up for the Nittany Lions. The team won four straight prior to that Purdue lost and still has won six of eight. The only losses for Penn State over the last month have come on the road against Michigan State and Purdue. That’s not exactly something to be embarrassed about.

However, Sunday’s loss also makes this game particularly important for Penn State. The team is vying for an NCAA Tournament bid and desperately needs to beat Michigan. This isn’t a “must win”, but it’s pretty close.

The matchup that’s the most intriguing in this one will be in the backcourt where Tony Carr faces off against Zavier Simpson. On paper, this is a mismatch, but Simpson has shown himself to be a tough defender and a player who can give even some of the better guards in the Big Ten some trouble. If Simpson can hold Carr in check, Michigan has a chance to get the upset.

Another spot to watch will be upfront, where Moritz Wagner will face off against Mike Watkins. Can the Nittany Lions big man avoid foul trouble? That will be another major thing to watch on Wednesday night.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Penn State

The Rest:

-Iowa Hawkeyes at Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Time/TV: 9:00PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Minnesota (-2)

Look, I’m not going to lie to our readers. This isn’t exactly a marquee matchup finishing Wednesday night’s slate. These two teams are a combined 26-32 heading into this game. Iowa has lost five straight and Minnesota sits amid its own nine-game skid. Neither of these teams are going to the postseason without winning the Big Ten Tournament.

However, there are two interesting angles to watch in this one. First, which team can get back on track? Both have been dreadful over the last month or so and somebody has to win on Wednesday night. Moreover, the winner of this game will likely move up in the Big Ten Tournament seeding. It won’t be much, but it will be something.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Iowa


Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 22-35-2