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1/27 Big Ten Basketball Preview: Two Top 15 Teams In Action

#13 Ohio State hosts Penn State while #14 Wisconsin heads to Maryland.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a doubleheader tonight on BTN after no Big Ten basketball the last two days.

Game of the Night

#14 Wisconsin Badgers at Maryland Terrapins

  • Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET BTN

In the late game tonight Wisconsin will travel to face an up and down Maryland squad. Sitting at 9-7 and 3-6 in conference play it’s been a rough year for the Terps, but at the same time they’ve also beat Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota all on the road (their only three wins in conference play).

The last time these two teams played the Badgers struggled shooting the ball, hitting 8 of 21 from three and only 8 of their 15 free throw attempts. It was an uncharacteristically poor offensive performance for the Badgers while Maryland shot 50% from the field.

Wisconsin didn’t look particularly good last time out, either, shooting 25% from three on 28 attempts and 60% from the line in a loss to Ohio State. The Badgers have had some consistency issues on offense and need to convert on their trips to the free throw line. Defensively Wisconsin is still a strong team and they have the guys to produce on offense, they have just had some off nights the past month. The Badgers limit turnovers, something important as the Maryland D doesn’t force many turnovers.

Maryland has shown they are capable of winning games like this...or at least they’re capable of winning them on the road. There’s talent on the Terps roster but consistency has been a major issue. Not counting a late scheduled game against Division II Wingate the Terps have not won back to back games since the beginning of December.

It’s on the road but look for the Badgers to bounce back tonight in a much needed win if they want to keep pace with Michigan and Iowa.

Pick: Wisconsin

The Rest

Penn State Nittany Lions at #13 Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET BTN

In tonight’s first game Ohio State is set to host Penn State. The Buckeyes are 6-4 in conference play and probably not gonna catch Michigan, but they are in a five team log jam with Iowa (6-2), Wisconsin (6-3), Illinois (6-4) and Purdue (6-4), so a win here is important.

Penn State went three weeks without playing before losing a pair of road games to Purdue and Illinois when they came back. In a loaded schedule trying to make up four postponed games, the Nittany Lions knocked off Rutgers and Northwestern at home thanks to Izaiah Brockington’s 19 points per game. After playing four games with only one day off between the Nittany Lions got a bit of rest over the last three days, though they do have to travel to Columbus tonight. Penn State is 1-4 on the road so far this season, losing their last four.

With teams like Rutgers, Northwestern and Minnesota all fading, Ohio State has started to surge as another team of note in the Big Ten. Besides a loss to Purdue at home on a Jaden Ivey three pointer, the Buckeyes have picked up wins over Rutgers, Northwestern, Illinois, and Wisconsin over the past three weeks. The schedule still features two games against Iowa, two against Michigan State and outings against Michigan and we’ll see just how good Ohio State is over the next month or so.

Penn State’s offense has left plenty to be desired, currently ranking 241st in field goal percentage and 143rd in free throw percentage. They fare a bit better from three (36.1% - 84th) and are a good offensive rebounding unit (13.3 - 18th), but fail to clean up on the glass defensively (23.8 def. rebounds per game - 287th) and are turnover prone. Myreon Jones is leading the team in scoring with 15.9 points per game, while Izaiah Brockington has emerged as of late. Penn State might not have a go to guy every night, but the backcourt has plenty of weapons. Offensively, though, their frontcourt is underwhelming and an area that needs to produce more.

The Buckeyes are in the middle of the pack offensively in the Big Ten, ranking fifth in field goal percentage (45%) and ninth in three point percentage (34.2). They’re only sixth in free throw percentage (74.2%), but they are one of the top teams when it comes to getting to the free throw line, giving them plenty of opportunities for additional points. Ohio State relies heavily on an experienced senior core, with Duane Washington Jr., Justice Sueing, Kyle Young and CJ Walker scoring 52% of the teams points this year. Washington Jr. leads the team in scoring with 15.3 points per game, while E.J. Liddell adds 14.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, likely set to feast inside against the Penn State frontcourt.

Ohio State is starting to get things together at the right time and they’re facing a Penn State team that struggles on the road and will be overmatched from a talent standpoint. Look for the Buckeyes to pick up another win tonight.

Pick: Ohio State