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12/4 Big Ten Preview: Michigan Heads Overseas

Preview all of Sunday’s Big Ten action.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The league will get an exciting slate of games on Sunday, highlighted by a marquee matchup between Michigan and Kentucky in London. Fans will also be treated to a rivalry game between Creighton and Nebraska and two other conference matchups.

Let’s take a look at the schedule.

Game of the Day:

-Michigan Wolverines vs. No. 19 Kentucky Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 1:00PM ET (ABC)
  • KenPom Spread: Kentucky by 9

While Michigan’s slow start to the season has taken some of the sizzle off this matchup, this event is simply too cool not to grab the top billing here. The Wolverines will travel overseas and face Kentucky in the O2 Arena in London, England. Michigan has already been posting pictures from the trip and it looks like an incredible experience:

Of course, the question is whether the game itself will be competitive on Sunday afternoon. While both programs are brand names, Michigan has stumbled out of the gates to an underwhelming 5-2 record. And while the Wolverines showed a lot on Tuesday in a close loss to Virginia, you can only be so satisfied with a loss. The team’s defense remains putrid and the offense is incredibly reliant on Hunter Dickinson to carry things.

The matchup to watch will be upfront between Dickinson and star big man Oscar Tshiebwe. Both have played well so far this season and will be asked to do a lot on Sunday. Michigan’s defense in the lane will also be particularly important, as Kentucky almost never gets blocked at the hoop and does a great job of getting good looks. Michigan will need to hold up there, or risk getting run off the court.

  • Pick: Kentucky

The Rest:

-Nebraska Cornhuskers at No. 7 Creighton Bluejays

  • Time/TV: 4:30PM ET (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Creighton by 13

Realistically speaking, this doesn’t project as a particularly close game. Nebraska enters as a double-digit underdog and will be going on the road to face a top 10 Creighton squad. If you were trying to draw up a dream scenario for the Huskers in this rivalry, these probably wouldn’t be the circumstances. Odds are, this is going to be a sizable Creighton win.

However, there are a few reasons for hope. To start, Nebraska (for once) enters this game with some momentum, after crushing Florida State and Boston College over the last week, while Creighton enters on a losing streak. And even if Nebraska’s opponents weren’t great, it’s progress for the Huskers. The team is also starting to find themselves offensively and Derrick Walker has been making some noise. Fans will have to hope he can hold up against Ryan Kalkbrenner and Frederick King.

  • Pick: Creighton

-Minnesota Golden Gophers at No. 5 Purdue Boilermakers

  • Time/TV: 5:00PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Purdue by 18

This one projects quite similarly to the Creighton-Nebraska game described above. From a 1,000 foot view, there really isn’t much of a reason to think this game will be competitive. Minnesota enters as a massive underdog and has yet to beat a quality opponent so far this season. If the Gophers are going to pull off the upset, it’s going to take massive efforts from Ta’Lon Cooper and Dawson Garcia against an exploitable Boiler defense. However, it’s hard to see them slowing down Purdue enough to hang.

  • Pick: Purdue

-Northwestern Wildcats at No. 20 Michigan State SPartans

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan State by 7

In a lot of ways, Northwestern and Michigan State have mirrored each other so far this season Both entered with underwhelming expectations and overachieved initially before falling on rough times the last few outings. That makes Sunday’s game particularly intriguing, as both teams hope to bounce back and make a mark in Big Ten play.

From a matchup perspective, this projects as a relatively low scoring game where possessions are going to be really valuable. The battle between the backcourts will be really intriguing with Boo Buie and Ty Berry for Northwestern and AJ Hoggard and Tyson Walker for the Spartans. Keep an eye on how the four play outside the arc. None are particularly great or consistent there. If someone can get hot, it could be the difference.

All told, this still feels like Michigan State will be too much for Northwestern to overcome, particularly on the road. However, it should be a tight one.

  • Pick: Michigan State


Picks Record: 51-12-0