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3/1 Big Ten Preview: Michigan and Ohio State Set For Showdown

The end of the season is near as the postseason quickly approaches.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

It’s officially March.

Game of the Day

#19 Michigan Wolverines at #23 Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time/TV: 4:00 PM ET (CBS)

Michigan saw a big five game winning streak come to an end in a home loss to Wisconsin. While Zavier Simpson exploded for 32 points and Franz Wagner dropped an additional 17, the Wolverines couldn’t stop the Wisconsin offense and didn’t get much help from anyone else. The recent win streak helped elevate Michigan from a potential bubble team to an NCAA Tournament team and now they’ll look to knock off Ohio State on the road to get back for a home loss earlier in the year to the Buckeyes.

Ohio State is 7-2 their last nine games, including a win over a top ten Maryland program. With Michigan at home the Buckeyes will look to add another quality win to their resume and go for the sweep of their hated rival.

The Wolverines offense has found life this winter with the return of Isaiah Livers, though he was held to 3 of 10 from the field against Wisconsin. If the Buckeyes want another win against Michigan they’ll need to keep Livers from finding his rhythm from outside. Simpson’s 32 point explosion made up for an 0 of 10 shooting performance against Purdue and the Wolverines will need him to step up once again. It would also be nice if Michigan could get something out of Jon Teske, who has been struggling heavily the past month.

With a balanced attack on offense Ohio State is led by Kaleb Wesson and his 14.0 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. Kaleb, Duane Washington Jr., and Andre Wesson have helped anchor a formidable offense while the team will hope for another big performance from Luther Muhammad, who scored 22 against Maryland.

When these two teams faced last the Wolverines shot 33.3% from the field and 32.3% from three. They also didn’t have Livers back in the rotation. Winning on the road is hard but with Livers back in the starting lineup it gives Michigan a huge boost they didn’t have last time these two teams squared off.

It’ll be a close one but Michigan should get it’s revenge today.

Pick: Michigan

The Rest

Indiana Hoosiers at Illinois Fighting Illini

  • Time/TV: 2:00 PM ET (BTN)

Indiana went 3-1 with a pair of wins over ranked teams before heading to West Lafayette and once again losing to Purdue. The Hoosiers had one of their worst shooting performances in years when they shot 25.4% from the field and 20.8% from three. Now they get to face an Illini team that has had their own issues on offense.

Wins over Penn State and Iowa recently helped out Indiana quite a bit but today is still a pretty big game for the Hoosiers. With Minnesota and Wisconsin next week the Hoosiers can’t afford to go 0-3 over the next week and if they beat Illinois on the road they probably punch their ticket for the NCAA Tournament.

The Illini got a spark off the bench from Alan Griffin with the sophomore adding 24 points in 20 minutes. Griffin had a solid outing against Nebraska as well when he scored 13 points in 20 minutes. For an Illini team that hasn’t been scoring much since conference play started they’ll take all the help they can get. Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn have been great all year but the regression from Giorgi Bezhanishvili this year has definitely impacted the Illini offense.

Indiana has relied pretty heavily on Trayce Jackson-Davis, who is leading the team with 13.8 points per game. Purdue was able to limit Jackson-Davis to eight points and look for Illinois to replicate that today. Devonte Green, one of the Hoosiers main scorers, shot 3 of 14 from three last time out and will need to play better for the Hoosiers on the road.

If the loss to Purdue was a one and done and the Hoosiers can get back to their recent success they could land an upset here due to the issues on offense for the Illini. But if they start slow it could be a long day once again. It’ll be ugly but Illinois should have just enough to pick up the win.

Pick: Illinois

Northwestern Wildcats at Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Time/TV: 4:15 PM ET (BTN)

Eh, I’m not entirely sure who is going to be watching this game as it’s set to tip during the Michigan and Ohio State game and even most Northwestern and Nebraska fans have likely tuned out by now. If there’s anything worth watching it’s that Nebraska holds a one game lead over Northwestern but have lost to the Wildcats, so a loss here could lead to the Cornhuskers finishing last in Fred Hoiberg’s first season.

Nebraska has lost by double digits four times in a row while Northwestern hung around against the Illini before losing by eight earlier in the week. Today we get one of the league's worst offenses (Northwestern) facing one of the worst defenses (Nebraska) and two teams riding 13 (Nebraska) and 12 (Northwestern) game losing streaks.

Nebraska gets the edge solely because this game is in Lincoln.

Pick: Nebraska

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Wisconsin Badgers

  • Time/TV: 6:30 PM ET (BTN)

Wisconsin pieced together an impressive offensive performance behind D’mitrik Trice’s 28 points and managed to get a big upset at Michigan earlier in the week. The Badgers have managed to shore up a tournament worthy resume and with Minnesota, Northwestern and Indiana on deck they could climb up a few seeds before Selection Sunday hits.

The Gophers can’t win close games and blew a massive lead to lose to Maryland by a point. They have single digit losses to a laundry list of NCAA Tournament teams and if they could have simply closed out a few of these games they’d still be playing for a potential postseason bid. If they can win today they have a solid shot of beating Indiana and Nebraska but that would only put them at 16-14 and likely require a run to at least the Big Ten Tournament title game for a shot at the NCAA Tournament.

When these two teams met in Minnesota the Badgers shot 28.4% from the field and 24.1% from three. While it’s likely the Badgers won’t exactly replicate the success they had against Michigan, they’ve played a lot better down the stretch and should have a much better offensive showing. The Gophers had a big day in that win from Payton Willis and will need some help in their backcourt if they want to land the upset. Daniel Oturu had 17 points and 14 rebounds and will be a force, but can the guards shoot well enough on the road to hang with an emerging Wisconsin offense?

Not likely. Look for the Badgers to avenge their earlier loss to the Gophers.

Pick: Wisconsin