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11/24 Big Ten Preview: Wisconsin Aims for Maui Invitational Title

NCAA Basketball: St. Francis-NY at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

There are five games scattered throughout the day, including Wisconsin and Saint Mary’s playing in the title game of the Maui Invitational.

Game of the Day

Wisconsin Badgers vs Saint Mary’s Gaels (Maui Invitational)

  • Time/TV: 5:00 PM ET (ESPN)

The Badgers have bounced back nicely after a loss to Providence with a pair of wins against Texas A&M and 12th ranked Houston in the Maui Invitational. Wisconsin is once again riding their defense, not giving up more than 63 points in any of their five games so far this year. They also took advantage of a Houston team that shot 53.3% from the line in a two point loss last time out.

Johnny Davis and Brad Davison are combining to score almost half of Wisconsin’s points, while forward Steven Crowl is the only other player to reach double figures. The Badgers aren’t exactly wowing anyone offensively, shooting 38.6% from the field and 29.2% from three, but they limit turnovers, make their free throws and have defensively shut down their opponents.

Saint Mary’s is 6-0, with their two best wins coming against Notre Dame and Oregon in Maui. Prior to that the Gaels looked relatively uninspired in single digit wins against Texas Southern and Bellarmine. Led by forward Dan Fotu, who is averaging 15 points per game and shooting 64.4% from the field, the Gaels have fared much better offensively than the Badgers. That being said, their advantage on offense isn’t likely enough to give them much separation against Wisconsin once you factor in the Badgers defense.

Wisconsin once again rides a strong defense to pick up a win in a slow, plodding slugfest that will look relatively common once the Big Ten season begins.

Pick: Wisconsin

The Rest

Loyola Chicago Ramblers vs Michigan State Spartans (Battle 4 Atlantis)

  • Time/TV: 12:00 PM ET (ESPN)

Loyola Chicago has been rolling through their first four games, even if they’ve all came against relatively weak mid-majors. The Ramblers are likely fresh on the minds of Big Ten fans after witnessing them manhandle Illinois early in the NCAA Tournament back in March. They’ll face a young Michigan State team that should be pretty good this year, but will likely need to work through some things before getting there.

Loyola Chicago is shooting over 45 % from three, with leading scorer Ryan Schwieger hitting 50% from deep. They’ve been scoring at will this year, but they haven’t faced a team as good as Michigan State yet. The Spartans have rolled since losing to Kansas by 13, including a 21 point win over Butler. With three different leading scorers in four games and seven players averaging in the 7-14 points per game range, the Spartans tend to spread the ball around. Marcus Bingham Jr. has been big this year, averaging 12.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

Michigan State is the more talented team but Loyola Chicago has pieced together some very good teams as of late. Still, one has to think Tom Izzo and the Spartans will find a way to pick up a win in the Bahamas early today.

Pick: Michigan State

Tarleton State Texans at #20 Michigan Wolverines

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET (BTN)

Michigan got trounced by Arizona in the Roman Main Event, not a huge surprise considering they shot 1 of 14 from three, struggled from the line and committed 15 turnovers. They have an easy bounce back game against a 1-4 Tarleton Texans. The Texans have lost three games by double digits and haven’t scored more than 69 points in a game through their first five. Shooting 40.5% from the field and 25.3% from three, shooting isn’t exactly their forte.

Michigan needs to find their shot from beyond the arc, but they have more then enough fire power from within the arc to take care of the Texans tonight.

Pick: Michigan

Ohio State Buckeyes at #23 Florida Gators (Fort Meyers Tip-Off)

  • Time/TV: 8:30 PM ET (FS1)

Ohio State has had a pretty eventful start to the season, almost losing to Akron in their opener, struggling with Niagara and losing at Xavier. They picked up a much needed win against Seton Hall on Monday, but with Florida tonight and Duke coming up, the Buckeyes could really use a win today. The schedule doesn’t let up that much in December, either, with a road trip to Penn State and games against Wisconsin and Kentucky.

In their loss to Xavier the Buckeyes couldn’t get much going offensively, shooting 37.7% from the field. Ohio State has been riding their big man E.J. Liddell, who is averaging 22.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. No other player on the roster is reaching double figures so they’ll need someone else to step up alongside Liddell.

Florida has won all four games this year by double figures, including a 16 point win over a ranked Florida State and a 20 point win over Cal earlier in the week. Colin Castleton is averaging 17 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game, setting up a prime matchup against Liddell. The biggest difference is the Gators have more offensive firepower surrounding Castleton, including guard Myreon Jones (Penn State transfer) and Tyree Appleby, who are both averaging double figures while shooting better than 40% from three.

Florida’s more rounded roster should be capable of picking up another win against Ohio State tonight.

Pick: Florida

Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET (BTN)

The Gophers are looking to improve to 5-0 against a 2-1 Jacksonville team that is ranked 268th in the KenPom rankings. Jacksonville is led by Jordan Davis, who is averaging 14.3 points per game while shooting 45.5% from three. Past that the Dolphins don’t have many offensive weapons. Jacksonville has a pretty solid defense, but the Gophers have a laundry list of options on offense and should be more then capable of picking up their fifth win of the year. With three guards all averaging double figures, expect Minnesota to once again ride their back court to another win.

Pick: Minnesota