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2/9 Big Ten Preview: Ohio State Travels To Rutgers

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

After a busy Tuesday night we have a considerably quieter Wednesday, with a relatively low key doubleheader taking place tonight on BTN. Let’s take a look at the action set for later today.

Game of the Night

#16 Ohio State Buckeyes at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET BTN

It’s been a wild ride for the Scarlet Knights the past couple weeks. A 6-1 run that included wins over Michigan and Iowa had Rutgers at 11-6, including a prior win over Purdue. Then they lost back to back games against Minnesota and Maryland before barely sneaking past Nebraska and losing to Northwestern in overtime. The rough 1-3 run was then immediately followed by Rutgers blowing out Michigan State by 21 points at home.

Now they host an Ohio State team that is 7-3 in conference play and trying to stay in the race. Ohio State has been racking up wins but outside of a December win against Wisconsin their best league win is against Penn State or Maryland. If the Buckeyes want to remain in contention they’ll need to avoid the pitfalls of several other Big Ten programs and not get picked off in Jersey.

Rutgers biggest issue is their plodding offense, ranked by KenPom as the 137th most efficient offense in the country. They have guys that can make plays, like Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker, but the team can’t consistently score. Through 22 games they are averaging 68.3 points per game, shooting just over 43% from the field and less than 70% from the line. They do bring in a strong defense to the mix, set to go up against a highly efficient Ohio State offense ranked just outside the top five by KenPom.

Ohio State is the better team but Rutgers has been very difficult at home this season. The Buckeyes have also scraped by plenty of inferior teams they should have easily beaten. That should set the table for an interesting night, but the Buckeyes will once again do just enough for the win.

Pick: Ohio State

The Rest

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Nebraska Cornhuskers

Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET BTN

In the late game tonight the two worst teams in the conference will meet in Lincoln. Minnesota had a strong non-conference start but their lack of depth and overall talent has made it difficult for the Gophers to pick up wins, even if Ben Johnson has his program competing and almost knocking off schools like Michigan State and Wisconsin on the road. As for Fred Hoiberg and the Cornhuskers, Nebraska is winless and looking at another dreadful season as they continue to look for their first Big Ten win of the season.

Minnesota actually held a lead at the break at Iowa before falling to the Hawkeyes. If they want to win on the road they’ll need more for Jamison Battle, who was held to 2 points on 1 of 12 shooting. Battle and and Payton Willis have been big all season and Johnson will need some more offensive production from the duo. Nebraska is currently riding a 10 game losing streak and while they hung around with Indiana, Wisconsin, Rutgers and Michigan, they just got blown out at home by Northwestern.

One of these days Nebraska should finally pick up a win, but their issues with turnovers and poor shooting have made that difficult. Typically they show flashes of being able to land an upset, but can’t keep it together for a full 40 minutes. Minnesota should provide a good opportunity for a win, but the same thing was said heading into the Northwestern game. Minnesota has been competing and getting everything out of their limited roster and will add another win to their resume.

Pick: Minnesota