The Big Ten had a loaded slate of games set for Saturday. Take a look at all five below.
Game of the Day:
-No. 14 Michigan State Spartans at Wisconsin Badgers
- Time/TV: 1:00 PM EST/ FOX
- KenPom spread: Michigan State -1
Yikes, what a week for Wisconsin.
The Badgers lost their second-leading scorer, Kobe King, to a transfer, the Big Ten suspended Brad Davison for this game for his flagrant foul on Iowa’s Connor McCaffery, and the Miami Heat’s Tyler Herro, a former Wisconsin commit before ending up at Kentucky, questioned why any of Wisconsin’s top in-state talent should go there due to style of play concerns.
To cap all of this off, Wisconsin now hosts the Big Ten’s best in a massive game for its NCAA Tournament aspirations. The Badgers haven’t beaten the Spartans in Madison since 2016, and it is going to be tough to get back on a winning track today.
Simply put, I just don’t see how Wisconsin wins today without two of their starters. Michigan State has the balance both inside and outside to counter anything Wisconsin throws at them. Finally, there are real questions about how Wisconsin is going to respond to their tumultuous week. The safe pick is to trust the Spartans, even with some of their road struggles this season.
- Pick against the spread: Michigan State
- Time/TV: 12:00 PM EST/ ESPN
- KenPom spread: Ohio State -8
The Big Ten slate tips off with an intriguing matchup from Columbus. Ohio State, sitting at 3-6 in the conference, desperately needs to protect home-court and claw itself back to the middle tier of the league.
Indiana is in the midst of a two-game losing streak and desperately needs to find answers if they want to remain in the double-bye conversation for the Big Ten tournament.
I think this is a low-scoring, slugfest with Ohio State coming out on top. Due to the limited possessions and struggling offenses, I think Indiana keeps this within eight points, but still drops a close one.
- Pick against the spread: Indiana
-No. 25 Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs Michigan Wolverines
- Time/TV: 4:30 PM EST/ BTN
- KenPom spread: Rutgers -1
The Scarlet Knights get a showcase matchup from Madison Square Garden this afternoon against the Michigan Wolverines.
It has to be a special moment for Coach Pikiell and his program as they continue to build momentum this season. It will be interesting to see the crowd splits with the game occurring less than 40 miles from Rutgers’s campus.
As far as the matchup goes, Michigan has Zavier Simpson back after his suspension, but Isaiah Livers’ status is still in question.
It will be interesting to see how Myles Johnson plays for Rutgers. The 6-foot-10 big man goes through a lot of high-screen action with various Scarlet Knight ball handlers. He is also the fourth-best in the country in effective field goal percentage (69 percent). Jon Teske’s defense has been shaky this season so look for Rutgers to try to exploit this by trying to get Johnson some buckets or going through their main scorers, Geo Baker and Ron Harper Jr., by timely switches.
Overall, I think Rutgers comes out on top by between 6-8 points.
- Pick against the spread: Rutgers
-No. 24 Penn State Nittany Lions at Nebraska Cornhuskers
- Time/TV: 7:00 PM EST/ BTN
- KenPom spread: Penn State -9
The key for Penn State in this one is to put Nebraska away early and not allow this game to get interesting.
The Nittany Lions are coming off a nice and dominant home win against Indiana and don’t want to slip up with some other tough road games coming up.
An easy way for Penn State to jump out in this one is by hitting the glass. Nebraska is not a good rebounding team, and the Nittany Lions can exploit this through second-chance opportunities. This could be difficult though if the tempo is up and the game turns into a track meet. Penn State’s best rebounder, Mike Watkins, might need limited minutes if the pace turns up.
For Nebraska, Cam Mack is the driver of any potential upset bid. The 6-foot-2 guard needs to score, shoot well, and distribute for the Cornhuskers to hang around. Penn State has a few guys they can throw at Mack, so this could be difficult.
Stick with Penn State in this one. The Nittany Lions can win by pushing the pace or slowing it down. Nebraska needs many things to fall into place to come out with the upset. I’ll take the Nittany Lions to win and cover.
- Pick against the spread: Penn State
- Time/TV: 9:00 PM EST/ BTN
- KenPom spread: Purdue -5
I would label this game as a “stay away”.
On paper, the Boilermakers (NET ranking of 36) should roll into Evanston and easily dispatch the Wildcats (NET ranking of 153). That still may happen, but more than likely, this will be a close game down to the last few possessions.
Why? It is because Purdue is a completely different team on the road.
The Boilermakers are 1-6 on the road this season, have a margin of victory at -7.4 points, and their offensive efficiency is 87.1. Overall, that would be the fourth-worst offensive efficiency in the country.
Northwestern has lost five-in-a-row with four of those by double figures. Other than low turnover numbers, there’s not anything that Northwestern does relatively well.
Since I need to make a pick, I am going with the Boilermakers, but there is no guarantee with their struggles offensively on the road.
- Pick against the spread: Purdue