Finals are in the books and now it’s back to basketball around the Big Ten this weekend. Five games are set for Saturday including a top-10 matchup from Ann Arbor. Let’s take a look at each matchup and who you should be thinking about taking against the spread.
Game of the Day:
- No. 10 Oregon Ducks at No. 5 Michigan Wolverines
- Time/TV: 12:00 PM EST, CBS
- KenPom Spread: Michigan -3
A big one tips off from Ann Arbor at high noon as the Oregon Ducks travel to Michigan to take on the Wolverines.
It is a huge opportunity for Michigan to pick up a nation-wide best fourth top-25 KenPom. It also would be a chance for them to get over being handled in Champaign earlier in the week.
The 3PT line will factor heavily in this matchup. Both teams shoot at least 38 percent from three-point range and are in the top-40 in 3PT percentage defense. Michigan is the better overall defensive team and is at home, so that could end up being a decisive advantage.
Outside of the 3PT line, Michigan will need to keep Oregon off the offensive glass. The Ducks are a top-30 team in the country grabbing offensive boards while Michigan gives up an offensive rebound on nearly 25 percent of the possessions they are on defense.
I give the slight edge to Michigan in this one, but Oregon could easily roll into Ann Arbor and come out with the victory.
- Pick against the spread: Michigan
-No. 16 Michigan State Spartans vs. Oakland Golden Grizzlies
- Time/TV: 12:00 PM EST, ESPN 2
- KenPom Spread: Michigan State -17
There isn’t much to analyze in this one. Tom Izzo is 17-0 all-time against the Golden Grizzlies and he should easily make it 18-0 by Saturday evening.
Oakland is one of the worst shooting teams in the country. They are 325th in the country in three-point shooting and 248th in foul shooting. Expect Michigan State to swallow them up defensively and muscle them on the boards.
This is an Oakland team that lost by 30 to Maryland and 24 to Northern Illinois. Expect Michigan State to win and cover the spread.
- Pick against the spread: Michigan State
-Alabama Crimson Tide at Penn State Nittany Lions
- Time/TV: 2:00 PM EST, BTN
- KenPom Spread: Penn State -11
It is a unique position for Penn State this afternoon. A non-conference game against a Power 6 opponent and the Nittany Lions should win by double digits.
It is a position that Penn State has earned. The Nittany Lions are excellent this season. Balanced, solid defensively, and are now a top-25 KenPom team. This is a game Penn State should win going away. Alabama will want to run and push the ball all game. No other Power 6 team gets up and down the floor quicker than the Crimson Tide. So far, however, that’s only translated into a 4-4 record and 23 turnovers a game.
In the past, with Penn State, this is a game they struggle with and lose. This year feels different. If the Nittany Lions want to contend in the Big Ten, this is a game they win and cover. I think they are ready.
- Pick against the spread: Penn State
-No. 22 Seton Hall Pirates at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
- Time/TV: 4:00 PM EST, BTN
- KenPom Spread: Seton Hall -3
The in-state rivals renew their series from the RAC. This is a huge opportunity for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers can cap off a nice week with a win over a ranked squad and an overall record of 8-3. Seton Hall is currently no. 18 on KenPom right now and Rutgers hasn’t beaten a top-20 KenPom team since their shocking win over no. 2 Wisconsin in 2015.
This should be a rock fight, and if Rutgers wants to hang with the Pirates they need ways to manufacture points. The Scarlet Knights only shoot 28 percent as a team from three-point range, but they are going to need a few to go down today.
The other factor is containing Seton Hall guard Myles Powell. The senior is one of the best scorers in the country. He torched Rutgers last season with 28 points on 6-13 shooting from three-point range.
Rutgers can absolutely win this game. However, I think Powell and Seton Hall’s offensive ability will be too much. Seton Hall wins and barely covers.
- Pick against the spread: Seton Hall
-Old Dominion Monarchs at Illinois Fighting Illini
- Time/TV: 6:00 PM EST, BTN
- KenPom Spread: Illinois -15
The Illini will take their improved play into a home matchup against the Monarchs in BTN’s nightcap on Saturday.
The obvious story in this game is the play of Kofi Cockburn. The 7-foot center is a one-man wrecking crew and second in the country in individual offensive rebounding percentage. Old Dominion rebounds decently, but have only one player over 6-foot-8. Look for Cockburn to feast this evening, and if Illinois can force some turnovers and get out in transition it could be a blowout.
- Pick against the spread: Illinois