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2/12 Big Ten Preview: OSU at Michigan

Preview all of Saturday’s Big Ten action.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Ohio State vs Michigan Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten has a loaded slate on Saturday, featuring three ranked teams in action and a rivalry game in Ann Arbor. Wisconsin will host Rutgers early on, Indiana and Michigan State tangle after that, Michigan hosts Ohio State in the evening, and Penn State and Minnesota top things off for the evening game.

Let’s take a look at the matchup.

Game of the Day:

-No. 16 Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Wolverines

  • Time/TV: 6:00 PM ET (ESPN)
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan by 2

A couple weeks ago, this game didn’t look all that intriguing. However, Michigan then won six of eight games, including a blowout win over Purdue on Thursday night. Meanwhile, Ohio State has lost two of three, potentially opening the door for an upset.

There’s also little denying the significance of the matchup. Michigan desperately needs another marquee win for its NCAA resume while the Buckeyes are hoping to keep pace in the Big Ten title race after losing to Rutgers earlier this week. And considering how evenly things project and the two killer games these teams played last season, there’s plenty of sizzle to add to an already great rivalry game.

The game itself will be highlighted by star power on both sides. Michigan has Hunter Dickinson down low and Ohio State has EJ Liddell at the four. It should be a contrast of styles, at least in some ways, as Michigan relies on its entire game and the Buckeyes hope to play small ball. However both sides defend these two will be vital. Look for Moussa Diabate to get the duties on Liddell and Zed Key and Kyle Young to try and slow down Dickinson.

Also keep an eye on the backcourt, where both teams are a little weaker than some might expect. DeVante Jones and Jamari Wheeler have had moments, but neither has played at the level fans have hoped this year. It’s a great opportunity for both, as there will be openings. Whoever comes out on top could have a big impact.

  • Pick: Ohio State

The Rest:

-Rutgers Scarlet Knights at No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers

  • Time/TV: 2:00 PM ET (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Wisconsin by 8

If this game was in Piscataway, there’d be little doubt that an upset was on the table. However, this one will be in Madison and Rutgers enters with one of the league’s worst conference road performances while Wisconsin only has one home loss since November. It just feels like a game where Rutgers will come up short. It’s up to the Scarlet Knights to prove they can play well against quality teams on the road.

The matchup to watch will be on the wing between Johnny Davis and Caleb McConnell and Ron Harper. Over the last few months, Davis has played at an All-American level. If he can do it on Saturday, Wisconsin’s probably walking out with a win. It’ll be up to McConnell and Harper to slow him down.

  • Pick: Wisconsin

-Indiana Hoosiers at No. 17 Michigan State Spartans

  • Time/TV: 3:30 PM ET (FOX)
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan State by 5

Both of these teams enter Saturday’s matchup licking their wounds. Indiana is coming off a brutal loss to Northwestern on Tuesday and the Spartans have lost two straight, including a blowout loss to Rutgers on the road last Saturday. It’s a key opportunity for both sides to get back on track.

Keep an eye on the battle upfront. Marcus Bingham has shown his ability to hold up against the league’s best big men, but can he do it against Trayce Jackson-Davis? He plays a drastically different style than players like Kofi Cockburn and Hunter Dickinson. We’ll see if Bingham can get the job done.

  • Pick: Michigan State

-Penn State Nittany Lions at Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Time/TV: 8:30 PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Minnesota by 2

A couple of weeks ago, this would have been a great game as they had momentum and were both vying for serious postseason bids. Unfortunately, circumstances have changed and both now enter Saturday’s matchup amid some pretty rough streaks. Minnesota has lost eight of nine and Penn State has lost five of its last six games. Accordingly, both have watched their NCAA hopes go up in flames. It leaves little on the line on Saturday other than pride and the hope of better Big Ten Tournament seeding. However, both these teams have shown the desire to play hard. Keep an eye on John Harrar down low and Jamison Battle.

  • Pick: Minnesota