The Big Ten’s had a lighter last few days, but that ends on Wednesday as the league really gets rolling in the holiday tournament season. Four teams will face marquee opponents and two others will be in action as well.
Let’s take a look at the schedule.
Game of the Day:
-Wisconsin Badgers vs. Dayton Flyers
- Time/TV: 2:30PM ET (ESPN2)
- KenPom Spread: Dayton by 1
To date, the Badgers have had an encouraging start to the season. Wisconsin sits at a perfect 3-0 and it hasn’t all come against underwhelming competition, as the team knocked off a solid Stanford squad earlier this month. Tyler Wahl has likewise emerged as a potential star, really raising optimism about the Badgers.
We’ll see how that progress holds up as Wisconsin heads south to play in the Bahamas. Things will open up against Dayton on Wednesday. And while the Flyers have dropped off from their peak in 2020, this is still a really good squad and a team more than capable of pushing for an NCAA Tournament appearance.
The primary matchup to watch here will be upfront. DaRon Holmes has been fantastic for the Flyers so far and Wisconsin’s going to have its work cut out slowing down the big man. He gets to the line frequently and is a quietly great passer. Expect a lot to be initiated through him and lead guard Kobe Elvis.
All told, this feels like a pretty competitive game. However, Wisconsin seems to have the depth and experience to pull out the win.
- Pick: Wisconsin
-Ohio State Buckeyes vs. No. 21 Texas Tech Red Raiders
- Time/TV: 2:30PM ET (ESPN)
- KenPom Spread: Ohio State by 1
The Buckeyes have had a mixed experience in Maui so far, falling to San Diego State on opening night, but rebounding with a dominant win over in-state Cincinnati on Tuesday night. The split left Ohio State siting at 4-1 heading into Wednesday’s games.
This one presents a different challenge. Texas Tech boasts itself with one of the nation’s best defenses, presently ranked sixth nationally on KenPom and a really talented frontcourt led by forward Kevin Obanar. He eats up the team’s usage and is dominant on the offensive glass. Much will depend on Brice Sensabaugh trying to slow him down.
Ultimately, this feels like a game where Ohio State’s youth is going to get frustrated against a nationally elite defense. The Buckeyes have the team to hang, it just might be a tough matchup for the squad.
- Pick: Texas Tech
-Little Rock Trojans at No. 11 Indiana Hoosiers
- Time/TV: 6:30PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Indiana by 31
This should be another lopsided win for the Hoosiers. Little Rock is one of the nation’s worst teams and Indiana is coming off two solid wins over the weekend. The only real story to follow here is how early the bench gets unloaded and how they play. It’s a great opportunity for Mike Woodson to start working in the freshmen even more.
- Pick: Indiana
-Northwestern Wildcats vs. No. 13 Auburn Tigers
- Time/TV: 8:30PM ET (CBSSN)
- KenPom Spread: Auburn by 5
The Wildcats opened up their trip to Mexico with a win on Tuesday night, knocking off a respectable Liberty team by 14 points. It was a great win for the program as it tries to get back in the postseason. However, things will get even tougher on Wednesday as Northwestern faces off against a ranked Auburn squad.
If Northwestern is going to pull off the upset here, it’s going to take a great performance from the team’s backcourt. Boo Buie and Chase Audige need to play their best game of the season and the Wildcats will need to shoot a season high from three to pull off the win. Keep an eye on Wendell Green, who leads the team in usage when on the floor.
- Pick: Auburn
-Jackson State Tigers at Michigan Wolverines
- Time/TV: 8:30PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Michigan by 22
The Wolverines have been a significant disappointment so far this season, despite the team’s 4-1 overall record heading into Wednesday’s matchup. Michigan’s defense has been a mess and the backcourt hasn’t hit much from deep. This will be a good opportunity for Michigan to get back on track against an underwhelming Jackson State team. If the game is competitive in the second half, fans should really start worrying.
- Pick: Michigan
-Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. UNLV Runnin’ Rebels
- Time/TV: 10:30PM ET (CBSSN)
- KenPom Spread: UNLV by 3
Things haven’t been pretty for the Gophers so far this season. The team is 4-1, but all four wins have come against opponents outside the top 150 on KenPom and three came by less than 10 points, including an overtime win over Cal Baptist on Monday night. Even with a short-handed roster, that’s not an encouraging start.
Still, Minnesota is 4-1 and isn’t a substantial underdog against UNLV on Wednesday night. The key will be slowing down UNLV’s backcourt in EJ Harkless and Keshon Gilbert. Both have been really productive this year and initiate things for the Rebels. Fans will have to hope Ta’Lon Cooper and Braeden Carrington can hold their own. Unfortunately, it feels like a bit too much to ask for right now.
- Pick: UNLV
Picks Record: 37-7-0