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3/17 Big Ten Preview: Lions, Wolverines, and Buckeyes! Oh My?

Ohio State and Michigan look to advance in the NCAA Tournament while Penn State looks to do the same in the NIT.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-South Dakota State vs Ohio State Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The potential upset is what college basketball fans crave for unless it is your team being thwarted. As the postseason wears on, upsets become less and less likely barring a historic Cinderella march. With both Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State winning in their respective tournaments, they now embark on games that are just high-quality match-ups. While the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions are lower seeds, a win would not be considered an upset in any regard.

Even if the Wolverines drop a game to their sixth-seeded adversary, it would still not be considered an upset. What we have on this St. Patrick’s Day slate are three very good basketball games and six good basketball teams taking the court. They will not need the luck of the Irish or whatever stupid phrase you want me to say. These teams just need the ball rolled out and to be let loose.

Game of the Day

-#4 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs #5 Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time/TV: 7:45 PM ET - CBS
  • Spread: Gonzaga (-3)

As was anticipated by many, Ohio State was put to the test by South Dakota State. Though they were able to avoid the upset which many (including me) were predicting, it did take them the full 40 minutes to do it. What helps them in this game is the fact that Gonzaga had a dogfight with UNC Greensboro. It looked as though the Bulldogs would drop that game, making it another lost appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Never the less, they were able to gut out a hard-fought win.

Because of that, one has to wonder if a fatigue factor will set in with both of these teams. Gonzaga and Ohio State went through one of their more emotionally and physically daunting games in the first round! While that may seem overwhelming on paper, I am not so sure that will matter as both teams have prepared all season for this stage.

For the Buckeyes, you have to assume they will shoot better than their performance against the Jackrabbits. Only shooting 37 percent from the field and 30 percent from three is not promising, especially in the NCAA Tournament. They were saved by their astounding rebounding prowess though. The Buckeyes hauled in 47 total rebounds, a massive mark. If they do that again, they can probably afford to miss some shots. However, that is obviously not a very good strategy against a talented Gonzaga bunch.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Gonzaga

The Rest

-#3 Michigan Wolverines vs #6 Houston Cougars

  • Time/TV: 9:40 PM ET - TBS
  • Spread: Michigan (-5)

After giving their fans a near aneurysm with their sluggish performance in the early-going against Montana, Michigan rebounded. They were by no means perfect, only shooting 31 percent from three on 16 attempts. Yet, they were able to out-rebound the Grizzlies which was a massive point of worry for me. Michigan was also very stout defensively, only allowing 47 points on 32 percent shooting. They will need that defense once again if they hope to beat an up-tempo Houston team.

The question I am sure everyone is asking is “Who will guard Rob Gray?”. The Houston guard scored 39 points including the game-winner against San Diego State in their first game. Gray is a dynamic scorer who can easily sink a team like Michigan if he gets on a roll. However, the sticking point for the Cougars is the players not named Rob Gray. Against the Aztecs, there was not one other Houston player who scored over 10 points. That worries me because Michigan is a lot better than San Diego State.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Michigan

-NIT: #1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs #4 Penn State Nittany Lions

  • Time/TV: 12 PM ET - ESPN
  • Spread: Notre Dame (-5)

Say what you will about the NIT in comparison to the NCAA tournament, but this is going to be a fun game to watch. After handling Temple in their first game, Penn State now goes up against a far better team in Notre Dame. For the Nittany Lions to win, they need a solid performance out of Tony Carr. He only scored two points on one of 12 shooting against Temple. Obviously, that type of play will not be acceptable against a fully-equipped Fighting Irish team.

With Bonzie Colson back and Matt Farrell playing at the top of his game, Notre Dame will not be an easy opponent. However, we have said that about other Penn State foes this season and what have they done? They have gone out and defeated them. The Nittany Lions need Tony Carr to step up if they want to win though.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Notre Dame