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11/24 Big Ten Preview: Busy Turkey Day

Preview all of Thursday’s Big Ten action.

NCAA Basketball: Battle 4 Atlantis-Dayton at Wisconsin Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

There are four games today scattered across the day and all on neutral courts. That must mean it’s Thanksgiving week as most teams partake in their early season tourneys. Let’s take a look at the upcoming action.

Game of the Day

Wisconsin Badgers vs #3 Kansas Jayhawks

  • Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis
  • Time/TV: 11:00 AM ET ESPN

In hindsight maybe one of the Phil Knight related games could have gone here instead because this game might not be so pretty. The Badgers are 4-0 and constantly in the thick of things in the Big Ten, but the offensive output has been steadily declining with 60 points against Stanford, 56 against Green Bay and finally 43 yesterday against Dayton. 23.7% shooting and 22.2% from three, it wasn’t pretty.

That stagnant offense faces off against a Jayhawks defense ranked 10th in the KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency ratings and an offense just inside the top 30. Kansas has ran wild on the ACC, beating both Duke and North Carolina State, on their way to a 5-0 record.

So in theory the Kansas offense should more than enough to get past Wisconsin, even more so as they have a competent defense and are facing a pretty bleak Wisconsin offense. But whenever you want to write off Wisconsin they typically find a way to compete and hang around so one has to wonder if they can continue to do the same. At the very least the game is early before you’ll likely be exhausted, either because of a long day of basketball, long day of family or a food coma...or maybe a mix of all three?

Kansas should win but this will probably be the easiest game to try to watch on what is set to be a busy day for most people.

Pick: Kansas

The Rest

Oklahoma Sooners vs Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • ESPN Events Invitational
  • Time/TV: 5:00 PM ET ESPN
  • Line: Oklahoma -5.5

Ah yes, two former Big 12 (er, Big 8) schools square off in...Florida? Yup, as part of the ESPN Events Invitational the two former teams will compete tonight down south.

Nebraska hasn’t been particularly good under Fred Hoiberg and an early 20 point loss to St. John’s isn’t inspiring much hope things are going to be different this year. The team is shooting less than 30% from three, barely making more than 60% of their free throws and has an offense and defense outside of the top 100 rankings per KenPom. On the flipside Oklahoma’s offensive ranking is only 74th, but their defense is just outside of the top 30. Of course Oklahoma dropped a game to Sam Houston State and struggled with South Alabama and Arkansas Pine-Bluff, so...

The biggest takeaway is an Oklahoma team with a bad offense and good defense is playing a Nebraska team with a bad offense and a not particularly great defense. Both these teams have been dire offensively so the Sooners prowess on defense should be the deciding factor.

Pick: Oklahoma

#24 Purdue Boilermakers vs West Virginia Mountaineers

  • Phil Knight Legacy
  • Time/TV: 10:00 PM ESPN2
  • Line: Purdue -1.0

In one of two late games tonight Purdue will face off against familiar foe West Virginia in the opening round of the Phil Knight Legacy, not to be mistaken for the Phil Knight Invitational. Depending on the results of the opening day, Purdue will face either Gonzaga or Portland State tomorrow.

So far this season Purdue has started 3-0 with their most recent win being over a quality opponent in Marquette. In that game the Boilermakers fell down by 9 in the second half before coming back to build a 9 point lead late before winning 75-70. The perimeter shooting has been incredibly hit or miss, but Zach Edey has been a rock inside and paced Purdue through three wins.

The Mountaineers have started the season 4-0 and have given up 58, 56, 57, and 58 points in all four games. Head coach Bob Huggins is known for his defensive coaching, but the two teams are well acquainted over the years between several matchups and secret scrimmages.

Edey has another notable size advantage and should be fine inside. As long as Purdue can limit turnovers and establish some level of consistency from the perimeter they should remain undefeated.

Pick: Purdue

#18 Alabama Crimson Tide vs #12 Michigan State Spartans

  • Phil Knight Invitational
  • Time/TV: 10:30 PM ET ESPN
  • Line: Alabama -3.0

Michigan State has definitely turned some heads this month with a near upset of Gonzaga followed by an upset over Kentucky. That has led the Spartans roaring to a top 15 ranking. They’ll once again draw a notable opponent in 18th ranked Alabama, who are both favored by Vegas and by ESPN Analytics.

The Crimson Tide have made it to the NCAA Tournament in every season under head coach Nate Oats (with the exception of 2019-20 when there was no tourney). Forward Brandon Miller is leading the team with 20.3 points while also adding 9.3 rebounds per game. The Crimson Tide have a well rounded offense that have cleaned up on the glass so far this season. So far KenPom ranks their adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency at 18th in the nation, ahead of the Spartans in both categories.

Michigan State has been tested heavily this season and have handled themselves incredibly well. Joey Hauser is averaging 14 points and 6 rebounds per game while hitting 50% of his threes. Michigan State has been playing sound basketball but they typically drop at least a few of these games each season and after finally getting some credit for their early season start look for a slight slipup tonight.

Pick: Alabama