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1/3 Big Ten Preview: Michigan and Northwestern Face Off

Preview all of Sunday’s Big Ten action.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Maryland Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten has a loaded slate on Sunday, featuring two ranked matchups. Minnesota and Ohio State face off in the early game and Michigan hosts Northwestern in the late game. Wisconsin and Penn State were also slated to play, but the game was postponed.

Let’s take a look at the schedule.

Game of the Day:

-No. 19 Northwestern Wildcats at No. 16 Michigan Wolverines

  • Time/TV: 7:30PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan by 7

A week or two ago, this matchup didn’t look particularly intriguing. But after Northwestern pulled off three straight upsets in Big Ten play and Michigan continued its fast start, this now looks like one of the best games of the week. Michigan enters the game at 8-0 and looking to remain atop the Big Ten standings and Northwestern sits at 6-2 overall and 3-1 in Big Ten play hoping to continue to surprise.

The matchup itself is likely to be decided in the frontcourt. Hunter Dickinson has been fantastic for the Wolverines so far this season and Northwestern’s biggest challenge will be slowing down the freshman big man. Dickinson is averaging 16.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game and has been unbelievable since moving into the starting lineup, including 26 points against Maryland on Thursday night. Pete Nance and Ryan Young are going to have their hands full.

Michigan’s defensive strategy against Chase Audige will also be intriguing. Eli Brooks and Chaundee Brown have been the team’s best backcourt defenders, but Audige presents a unique challenge. He’s fantastic at getting inside and converting at the line, so staying in front of him defensively will be key. Expect quite a battle.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Northwestern

The Rest:

-No. 25 Ohio State Buckeyes at No. 21 Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Time/TV: 5:30 PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Ohio State by 1

This didn’t get “Game of the Day” honors, but it’s a pretty big matchup in its own right. Ohio State enters this game after knocking off Nebraska and the Gophers are looking to rebound from a tough loss at Wisconsin earlier this week. Both teams sit at 2-2 in the Big Ten standings and are hoping to move into the top segment with a win.

The matchup to watch here will be as it usually is with Minnesota: How will Ohio State try and slow down Marcus Carr? The Gopher guard has been fantastic this season and is currently averaging 22.7 points and 6.2 assists per game. And while Ohio State’s defense has been solid this year, it hasn’t been fantastic. The Buckeyes are 44th in defensive efficiency and haven’t been great at pressuring the backcourt. As such, expect a lot of pressure on CJ Walker and Duane Washington to try and slow down Carr.

On the other side of the court, all eyes will be on EJ Liddell and Seth Towns. The two are arguably the team’s best players, but are still trying to overcome some health concerns. They combined for 36 minutes on Wednesday against Nebraska and fans are hoping that number will grow on Sunday. There’s little debating the team’s long-term hopes are going to ride with those two.

Expect a hard fought game on both sides. If Carr is able to get going, Minnesota should have a great shot at coming out with a win.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Ohio State

Cancelled/Postponed:

-No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers at Penn State Nittany Lions

This figured to be an interesting game, but was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. Here’s what Penn State’s official release said:

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State men’s basketball game vs. Wisconsin, scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 3, has been postponed. The decision was mutually agreed upon out of an abundance of caution surrounding the health and safety of the participants, and the institutions will work with the Big Ten Conference to identify rescheduling options.

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Record Against The Spread: 13-8-2