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1/5 Big Ten Preview: Michigan State Travels To Columbus

Preview the Big Ten’s slate for Saturday.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten only has two games on Saturday, but both are significant ones. Michigan State will go on the road to face Ohio State and Maryland will face Rutgers. The first will have significant bearing on the Big Ten title race and the second could drastically impact Maryland’s postseason hopes.

Let’s take a look at today’s Big Ten action.

Game of the Day:

-Michigan State Spartans at Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time/TV: 12:00PM ET (FOX)
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan State (-2)

After dismantling Northwestern at home earlier this week, Spartan fans are feeling pretty good about where Michigan State is heading. The Spartans are now 12-2 overall, 3-0 in Big Ten play, and fourth nationally on KenPom. Michigan State has also won seven straight, with six of those wins coming by double-digits.

Simply put, it’s been quite a run for Michigan State.

However, things are about to get far more difficult. The Spartans now have to travel to Columbus to face an Ohio State team that’s also rolling. The Buckeyes have won six straight and are 11-1 overall. Moreover, Ohio State has been particularly good at home under Chris Holtmann and have gone 12-1 at home over the last 13 games.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention last year’s matchup between these two. Michigan State got to 15-1 overall and 3-0 in Big Ten play before losing to Ohio State in Columbus on January 7th. Obviously, that’s roughly where the Spartans sit right now. The question will be whether the Buckeyes can pull off another upset.

There are going to be two really intriguing matchups in this game. To start, Cassius Winston will look to continue his red hot play against CJ Jackson in the backcourt. The Spartans have been known to turn it over in the past, but Ohio State has struggled to force turnovers this season. Jackson has to keep the pressure on Winston.

Additionally, the battle between Nick Ward and Kaleb Wesson upfront should be a really good one. Both have plenty of size and are physical players. It’s also worth mentioning that both come out of the state of Ohio. It should be a fun battle between two of the Big Ten’s best big men. Who avoids foul trouble will have a big impact on Saturday’s game.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Michigan State

The Rest:

-Maryland Terrapins at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Time/TV: 2:00PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Maryland (-4)

Earlier this week, Maryland got a key win at home against a ranked Nebraska squad. The Terps had been desperate for a marquee win and finally got one. There’s still a long way to go, but beating the Huskers was a really encouraging sign.

But all that positivity will be on the line on Saturday as Maryland prepares to face Rutgers on the road. The Scarlet Knights have struggled so far this season and are just 7-5 overall and only have one win against a top 200 team. A loss here for Maryland would be absolutely devastating. By any measure, this is a must win.

The players to watch will be Eugene Omouyi and Jalen Smith. Both have been really productive players over the last few weeks and will be looking to continue that on Saturday. Smith was particularly good down the stretch against Nebraska. If Rutgers is going to pull off the upset, Smith needs to be slowed down.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Maryland

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Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 36-31-2