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12/15 Big Ten Preview: Ohio State Aims for 10-0

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

Game of the Night

#3 Ohio State Buckeyes at Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Time/TV: 6:30 PM ET (BTN)
  • Line: Ohio State -8.5

The third ranked Buckeyes will look to improve to 10-0 and take over the second spot in next week's polls if they can beat Minnesota on the road. Last week the Buckeyes beat North Carolina on the road by 25 and then knocked off Penn State by 32. Minnesota is sitting at 4-5 with Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan making up five of their next seven. The Golden Gophers desperately need a win here, especially after losing close to Oklahoma, Butler, Utah and DePaul this season (all of which would have been solid wins for the Gophers).

The Gophers don’t score a ton of and outside of Daniel Oturu, who is averaging 18 points, 11 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game, they don’t much star power. Payton Willis is shooting 37.3% from three and averaging 11.6 points per game, but there’s not much power to go toe to toe with the Buckeyes.

Ohio State is averaging 80.9 points per game (30th) and giving up only 54.7 per game (5th). Outside of the game against Penn State, they haven’t given up more than 57 points, including only 56 to Cincinnati, 51 to Villanova and 49 to North Carolina. Or in other words, Ohio State can score and has a very, very good defense. Considering Minnesota hasn’t had much consistency on offense besides Oturu and the Gophers will have issues keeping pace with the Buckeyes. Kaleb Wesson leads State with 14.1 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.

There’s always some difficulty in heading to Minnesota, or just playing on the road in the Big Ten in general. But Ohio State is firing on all cylinders while Minnesota keeps tripping over it’s feet. Expect more of the same.

Pick: Ohio State

The Rest

Purdue Boilermakers at Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Time/TV: 4:00 PM ET (BTN)
  • Line: Purdue -12

Purdue followed their win over Virginia with another dominating defensive performance against Northwestern. Now the Boilermakers will look to improve to 2-0 in conference play with a road victory over a Nebraska team that just lost to Indiana in overtime.

Last time out showed Purdue still has some rough edges on offense, but the defense is really good and they seem to get enough production to compete versus basically anyone. Nebraska isn’t Virginia, but it’s not always easy to win in Lincoln. If the Boilermakers can’t hit from three they could be on potential upset alert.

It’s been a minute since Nebraska has been at home (November 22nd), with three road games and three neutral site games before that. Head coach Fred Hoiberg is definitely in a transitional phase, but last time out Nebraska took Indiana to overtime and had a chance for the upset. With a relatively thin rotation that saw only 25 minutes total (of 225) for it’s bench, Nebraska will rely heavily on their starting five. Dachon Burke Jr. had a big night on Friday with 25 points.

If Nebraska can find a way to score offensively like they did against the Hoosiers they’ll have a chance. If Purdue’s defense keeps it up then they should be more than capable of picking up the W. Look for today’s game to land somewhere in between with Purdue winning ugly.

Pick: Purdue

SIU-Edwardsville Cougars at Northwestern Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 4:00 PM ET (ESPNU)
  • Line: Northwestern -20

Northwestern will look to bounce back from a Purdue loss with a cupcake in SIU-Edwardsville. The Cougars are currently sitting at 2-7 and just lost to lowly Chicago State, putting them 343rd in the KenPom rankings. Today’s outing is actually problematic because while it should give Northwestern an easy win, it’s a definite blow to their strength of schedule (which wasn’t particularly great as is).

Last time out Northwestern couldn’t crack 50 and their 65.3 points per game scored is good for 300th in the nation. Their defense is alright, giving up only 63.1 points per game, but the Wildcats are a poor shooting team. Miller Kopp and Pete Nance have shown flashes, but the team has some serious issues.

Of course SIU-Edwardsville has the 331st scoring offense and 275th scoring defense. And while Northwestern lost to a lower level Merrimack to open the season, they’ve looked a touch better since then, including wins over Providence and Boston College.

Look for an easy enough win.

Pick: Northwestern