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12/13 Big Ten Preview: Conference Play Begins

Preview all of Sunday’s Big Ten action.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten has a loaded slate on Sunday, including the first matchup of conference play between Michigan and Penn State in Ann Arbor. Other teams like Indiana and Iowa also look to round up the weak portions of their non-conference slates.

Let’s take a look at the schedule.

Game of the Day:

-Penn State Nittany Lions at Michigan Wolverines

  • Time/TV: 2:00PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan by 6

While Michigan and Penn State have performed pretty well so far this season, both have experienced some turbulence along the way. Michigan barely escaped an overtime battle against Oakland in late November and Penn State suffered a late collapse against Seton Hall a week ago for its only loss of the season. As such, both sides will be highly motivated to come out with a win in Ann Arbor on Sunday.

Though it might surprise some, Penn State enters this game having won its last two games against Michigan. It dominated the matchup in Ann Arbor last season and scored an upset win over the Wolverines when John Beilein was still coaching. Michigan won eight in a row before the last two.

The matchup to watch here is going to be upfront. Michigan will be without Austin Davis after he went down with injury earlier this week. However, it will have freshman star Hunter Dickinson. In contrast, Penn State will have John Harrar and Seth Lundy looking to slow things down. The key will be whether Dickinson can avoid foul trouble. If Michigan is forced to put Dickinson on the bench, it should be big things for the Nittany Lions.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Penn State

The Rest:

-North Alabama Lions at Indiana Hoosiers

  • Time/TV: 12:00 PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Indiana by 22

After narrowing falling on the road against Florida State earlier this week, Indiana returns home looking to score an easy win against an overmatched North Alabama squad. This will be Indiana’s last tuneup of the season. The Hoosiers will follow this with the Crossroads classic and then jump right into Big Ten play. Keep an eye on Khristian Lander. Fans will hope he can get some serious time on Sunday.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Indiana

-Oakland Golden Grizzlies at No. 4 Michigan State Spartans

  • Time/TV: 12:00 PM ET (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan State by 25

The Spartans were supposed to have a marquee matchup this week against Virginia on the road on Wednesday. But after a COVID-19 cancellation for the game against the Cavaliers, this will be Michigan State’s lone game of the week. And this one doesn’t project to be all that close. Oakland played Michigan tough a few weeks ago, but has otherwise been steamrolled by legitimate competition. Expect the Spartans to win big.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Michigan State

-Northern Illinois Huskies at No. 3 Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Time/TV: 2:00 PM ET (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Iowa by 26

After two massive wins earlier this week, Iowa is set to host Northern Illinois in the team’s final tune up game of the season. The Huskies enter this game at 0-4 and ranked 288th on KenPom. The only way this game is close is if Iowa is caught looking ahead, and, even then, the Hawkeyes should win.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Northern Illinois

-Cleveland State Vikings at No. 22 Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time/TV: 4:00 PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Ohio State by 22

After an incredible comeback on the road on Tuesday against Notre Dame to steal a win against the Irish, Ohio State enters this game at 4-0 against an underwhelming Cleveland State team. However, the Buckeyes will have to do it without EJ Liddell after he came down with a non-COVID 19 illness. As such, this one might be a little closer than expected. Eyes will also be on whether Seth Towns finally plays for Ohio State.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Cleveland State

-SIU Edwardsville Cougars at Northwestern Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 4:00 PM ET (ESPNU)
  • KenPom Spread: Northwestern by 22

After a tough loss at home against Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Northwestern is hoping to bounce back on Sunday against a pretty underwhelming SIU Edwardsville squad. The Cougars may be 2-4, but are 331st on KenPom and figure to be one of the weakest teams in the nation. For Northwestern, keep an eye on the frontcourt. This should be a chance to take advantage.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Northwestern

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Record Against The Spread: 8-5-2