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1/21 Big Ten Preview: MSU at Wisconsin

Preview all of Friday’s Big Ten action.

Syndication: Lansing Nick King/Lansing State Journal, Lansing State Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Big Ten has two great games on the docket for Friday night. Illinois goes on the road to face Maryland in the early game and Wisconsin hosts Michigan State later on.

Let’s take a look at the schedule.

Game of the Day:

-No. 14 Michigan State Spartans at No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers

  • Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Wisconsin by 3

This figures to be one of the biggest games for the Big Ten this season. A top 15 ranked Michigan State squad goes on the road to face a red hot Wisconsin team in a game where something’s gotta give. Both teams are firmly in the Big Ten title race and Friday’s winner figures to be in the driver’s seat, especially after Illinois went down on Monday.

For Michigan State, the game plan isn’t supremely complicated: battle the road crowd and try your best to slow down Johnny Davis. It won’t be easy, but that’s the route to victory. Much of the pressure will be on Gabe Brown and Max Christie to match up against the Wisconsin star. They’re more than capable of playing physical enough to give Davis problems. However, it’s also easier said than done and Davis has been unbelievably good lately. It’s going to be a massive night for Michigan State’s wing group.

On the other side, Wisconsin’s defense needs to be on point. Michigan State is one of the nation’s most prolific units from three-point range. Staying with the Spartans outside the arc will be vital. Even if Michigan State gets in the lane, Wisconsin’s going to need to make sure it doesn’t over collapse. Brad Davison could also be a player to watch. He should have plenty of opportunities, especially if Michigan State over focuses on Davis.

Ultimately, this should be quite a battle in Madison. Both teams are pretty evenly matched, though they play vastly different styles. Home court should give Wisconsin the advantage.

  • Pick: Wisconsin

The Rest:

-No. 17 Illinois Fighting Illini at Maryland Terrapins

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Illinois by 7

This is the second meeting between these two and the dynamics this time around are vastly different than when the teams first met. Unlike the first meeting, both teams enter Friday’s game coming off a loss. Illinois fell in dramatic fashion to Purdue at home on Monday while Maryland got blown out by Michigan on Tuesday. Illinois is the favorite here, but whoever recovers from their loss better has the advantage.

The matchup here to watch will be in the backcourt. Eric Ayala and Fatts Russell have been solid for the Terps all season, but will face quite a challenge with Trent Frazier and Alfonso Plummer on Friday. Kofi Cockburn also looks like a matchup problem for the Terps. He’s a monster down low and Maryland has no answer. Terp fans will have to hope he gets into foul trouble early. Otherwise, this could get ugly.

  • Pick: Illinois