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2/21 Big Ten Preview: Massive Showdown In Columbus

Preview all of Sunday’s Big Ten action.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Ohio State Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

What a Sunday slate for the Big Ten. Fans get to start things out with one of the biggest matchups of the season with a top five battle between Michigan and Ohio State and follow it up with three more games, including two more ranked teams in action.

Let’s take a look at the schedule.

Game of the Day:

-No. 3 Michigan Wolverines at No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time/TV: 1:00PM ET (CBS)
  • KenPom Spread: Ohio State by 1

Talk about a monster matchup. After weeks of anticipation, we finally get to see Michigan and Ohio State face off. This is easily the biggest game of conference play to date and could very well be the biggest matchup of the season nationally. It’s not often you get two top five teams and arch-rivals matching up in the regular season.

For Michigan, this is a chance for the Wolverines to validate their spot atop the conference standings and put some distance between themselves and Illinois. It’s also a chance for the team to cement itself as a threat for a one seed in the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments. Michigan’s resume is already strong, but a road win over a team like Ohio State would elevate things even further.

On the other side, Ohio State has a chance to show it belongs in the top five and score a valuable win over its arch-rival. The Buckeyes have proven a lot over the last six weeks, but a win on Sunday might be the most impressive of the entire run. And that’s saying a lot, considering Ohio State has won seven in a row and 10 of the team’s last 11 games.

The most interesting matchup will be in the backcourt with CJ Walker and Justin Ahrens matching up against Mike Smith and Eli Brooks. Ohio State’s been getting a lot out of Walker and Ahrens offensively, but can it hold up against a great Michigan defense? Brooks has been excellent and Smith can make some plays as well.

The backcourt battle will also roll over into the frontcourt where Hunter Dickinson faces off against EJ Liddell and Kyle Young. Michigan has the size advantage with Dickinson, but don’t underestimate what Liddell and Young can do on the boards. It will be key for Smith and Brooks to feed the ball inside to keep Dickinson engaged.

This feels like a game that’s going to come down to the closing minutes. It could go either way, but Ohio State’s backcourt and home court seems like it could be the difference.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Ohio State

The Rest:

-Maryland Terrapins at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Time/TV: 3:00PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Rutgers by 4

The Michigan-Ohio State matchup will get most of the attention on Sunday (and rightfully so), but this is a quietly important game. Maryland is clinging on to an NCAA Tournament spot in most bracketology projections and desperately needs to win this game to feel good about things. Conversely, Rutgers is trying to bounce back after a tough loss to Michigan.

The matchup to watch will be upfront. Rutgers’ Myles Johnson has been really productive this season, but he needs to be on the floor to be effective and has struggled with foul trouble. Can he perform against an undersized Maryland frontcourt with Jairus Hamilton and Galin Smith? Johnson had 10 points and 16 rebounds in the first meeting.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Rutgers

-Penn State Nittany Lions at No. 11 Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Time/TV: 6:00PM ET (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Iowa by 11

These teams enter Sunday heading in two opposite directions. While Iowa enters this game having won three in a row by double-digits, Penn State has lost three in a row and five of the team’s last seven games. If the Hawkeyes can keep up the momentum and slow down Myreon Jones, this should be a fourth straight win.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Iowa

-No. 21 Wisconsin Badgers at Northwestern Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Wisconsin by 4

After two tough losses to Michigan and Iowa, Wisconsin should get an easier opponent on Sunday, facing off against a reeling Northwestern squad on the road. The Badgers beat the Wildcats by double-digits when the two teams met in late January and most expect things to end in a similar manner this time as well. Northwestern enters the game having lost 12 in a row and desperate to get back on track. However, this feels like a potential let down game for the Badgers after a brutal last few weeks.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Northwestern

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Record Against The Spread: 23-19-2