Tonight marks the third day of the 2019 Gavitt Games and there should be more than enough on the plate to get fans excited. Ohio State and Purdue face off against top 15 opponents and three other Big Ten teams are also in action.
So, let’s take a look at what’s on the slate tonight.
Game of the Day:
-No. 10 Villanova Wildcats at No. 16 Ohio State Buckeyes
- Time/TV: 7:00PM ET (FS1)
- KenPom Spread: Ohio State (-1)
There’s little debating that this is the biggest game of the day on Wednesday for the Big Ten and might be the biggest game of the week anywhere in the country. Both teams entered this season with lofty expectations and will put them on the line in Columbus. Expect a competitive and closely fought game on both sides.
For Ohio State, this is an opportunity to prove the team can play on the national stage against a blue blood opponent. This isn’t the Villanova of a couple years ago, but the Wildcats are more than capable of going deep in March this year. Scoring a win like this would cement the Buckeyes as a relevant team this season.
The key for the Buckeyes will be slowing down Villanova’s offensive attack. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl led the Wildcats in the team’s opener, but it seems likely the team will play more through the perimeter on Wednesday. The challenge will be on players like DJ Carton and Luther Muhammad to hold their own.
All told, this should be a fun one. I’m taking the Wildcats on Wednesday, largely because I think Villanova’s backcourt will have a little more firepower than Ohio State’s so early in the season.
- Pick Against the Spread: Villanova
- Time/TV: 7:00PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Wisconsin (-22)
Not much needs to be said about this one. Wisconsin will be hosting a team rated 317th on KenPom heading into the matchup. Expect the Badgers to unload the bench in the second half. This should be a great opportunity to see how some of the team’s depth is developing.
- Pick Against the Spread: Wisconsin
- Time/TV: 8:00PM ET (BTN+)
- KenPom Spread: Rutgers (-16)
Like Wisconsin’s matchup described above, there really just isn’t a lot to analyze about this one heading into tip-off. Drexel is better than McNeese State, but not by a ton. The only question is whether Rutgers will show up for this matchup. If the Scarlet Knights play like the team did on Sunday, this shouldn’t be close. Keep an eye on Geo Baker in this one.
- Pick Against the Spread: Rutgers
- Time/TV: 9:00PM ET (FS1)
- KenPom Spread: Marquette (-1)
If this was played on any other night this week, it would probably have received this preview’s Game of the Day distinction. Both teams are rated in the top 15 on KenPom and the spread for the matchup is just one point. Even if you don’t completely agree with the site’s preseason ratings, that projects to be a heck of a matchup.
The key player to watch for Marquette is Markus Howard. He’s a smaller guard, but is widely considered to be one of the best players in the nation. Expect Purdue to try a variety of different players on him during the game to try and slow him down. Howard had a ridiculous 38 points in the team’s opener against Loyola (MD).
What’s going to be particularly interesting in this one is to see how Purdue responds to its loss on Saturday night at home against Texas. During that game, the Boilermakers actually played decently, but didn’t get enough from Nojel Eastern and Aaron Wheeler to walk away with a win. Can those two come up bigger in this matchup? We’ll have to wait and see.
- Pick Against the Spread: Marquette
- Time/TV: 9:00PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Providence (-6)
This game looked like it could be a fun one heading into the season. Unfortunately, that changed after Northwestern dropped its home opener against Merrimack on Friday. As such, this one now has a starkly different tone. Providence now enters this game as the clear favorite, considering the team is rated 16th nationally by KenPom. Alpha Diallo is one of the key players to keep an eye on for Providence.
It goes without saying that Northwestern will have to play much better than it did on Friday to have any hope of coming out with a win in this one. However, one would think that the team has refocused itself after Friday’s embarrassment. Perhaps we see a hungry group that can play better defensively. If not, things could get ugly.
- Pick Against the Spread: Providence
Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 7-5-2