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2/4 Big Ten Basketball Preview: Iowa and Ohio State in Top Ten Showdown

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

There are two games tonight, including a top ten showdown between Iowa and Ohio State.

Game of the Night

#7 Ohio State Buckeyes at #8 Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET ESPN

It’s somewhat weird seeing Ohio State in the top ten, mainly as their climb has gone somewhat under the radar compared to teams like Michigan, Iowa and Illinois. Outside of a two point loss to Purdue the Buckeyes have gone 6-1 their last seven games, including wins on the road over Illinois and Wisconsin. Now they get arguably their toughest test with a road trip to Iowa.

Somewhat luckily for the Buckeyes they get an Iowa team that hasn’t looked as good the past couple weeks, losing to Indiana and Illinois before sneaking past Michigan State on Tuesday. For a team that has had the most efficient offense in the country they had a shockingly rough second half against Indiana, couldn’t keep pace with Illinois and then were incapable of stopping a Michigan State team that has been struggling scoring. The Hawkeyes will look to get things turned around and a win over the seventh ranked Buckeyes would be a good starting point.

Tonight’s game is also important because with Iowa at 7-3 and Ohio State at 8-4 neither can afford a loss if they want to catch Michigan at 8-1. There’s also a log jam with Illinois, Wisconsin and Purdue, leaving little room for error down the stretch in a tough Big Ten.

Both teams tonight are heavy on senior production, with Ohio State being led by forward E.J. Liddell and guard Duane Washington Jr. Liddell has led the team in scoring in four of the last five games (20 or more points in those four games), while Washington Jr. has led the team in the other four most recent games. They’ll need to keep up that production as they square off against an Iowa team that is loaded with options on offense and has typically been able to score at will.

Luka Garza has led Iowa in scoring in all but two games this year (when Jordan Bohannon scored 24 against North Carolina and Northwestern). The Hawkeyes are fourth in made field goals per game, 23rd in made three pointers per game and are in the top 30 in free throw attempts. To no surprise the Hawkeyes are second in the nation with 89.4 points per game.

So what happens? Iowa has came up a bit short in the spotlight a couple times as of late and a home game against Ohio State is a big opportunity to get some momentum back. They’ll take advantage of the opportunity. Ohio State has been playing great as of late but will come up a bit short on the offensive side of the ball on the road.

Pick: Iowa

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET FS1

The Golden Gophers finally fell out of the rankings this week after blowing a 14 point lead to Purdue on their way to a 19 point loss. Minnesota has been 1-4 their last five games. They’re also 0-5 on the road, losing all five games by double digits. And now they’re set to go play at Rutgers.

That’s problematic as Rutgers has started to play better as of late, ending a five game skid and winning their last three. Close wins against Indiana and Northwestern aren’t particularly impressive on their own, but a 30 point win at home against Michigan State definitely impressed (regardless of the state of the Spartans right now).

One of the biggest issues in the loss to Purdue was Marcus Carr absolutely disappearing, shooting 2 of 13 from the field and scoring only six points. The Gophers will need more from Carr, especially with some consistency issues in the backcourt outside of Carr. Speaking of backcourts, Rutgers relies on a rotation of four guards that all basically averaging double figures (Geo Baker just misses the cut with 9.9 points per game). Myles Johnson does a solid job down low, averaging 8.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game and should have an interesting night going up against Liam Robbins.

Minnesota has been struggling as of late and has been horrible on the road this year. Going up against a Rutgers team that is starting to regain some momentum and it’s looking like Rutgers will increase their winning streak to four.

Pick: Rutgers