The Big Ten is set for a quietly good day of action on Monday, with three teams in action and two of them facing marquee opponents in the opening day of the 2023 Gavitt Tipoff Games. It should be fun.
Let’s take a look at the schedule.
Game of the Day:
-Xavier Musketeers at No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers
- Time/TV: 8:30 PM ET (FS1)
- KenPom Spread: Purdue by 12
The Boilermakers will face their first real test of the season on Monday night at home against Xavier. After the rocky offseason in West Lafayette, that’s probably a good thing. It will give Purdue a chance to quiet some of the critics, at least for now.
On the other side, Xavier enters this game as a serious underdog but with a respectable enough profile. The Musketeers are 39th on KenPom and coming off an impressive 27-10 campaign that included a trip to the Sweet 16 under new (well, sort of) head coach Sean Miller, who returned to the program after years at Arizona. The biggest question will be how Xavier replaces a an exodus of experience and talent.
The game itself will almost certainly be decided down low, where Abou Ousmane will face off against Zach Edey. The Xavier big man spent three seasons at North Texas before transferring to Xavier. His numbers are nowhere near Edey’s, but he has decent size and played for three top 75 KenPom teams, including a really good group last season that finished 18th nationally in defensive efficiency. In short, he won’t be a pushover.
If Xavier can hold their own down low, the Musketeers should have a chance. It figures to be a good test of what progress Purdue has made last season and whether its developing backcourt can take care of business when needed. This should be a win for the Boilermakers. It’s just whether the team performs as it should.
- Pick: Purdue
-Michigan Wolverines at St. John’s Red Storm
- Time/TV: 6:30PM ET (FS1)
- KenPom Spread: Michigan by 1
The Wolverines have been one of the league’s more encouraging teams so far this season, at least relative to expectations. Most thought Michigan would be an afterthought for NCAA eligibility, but the team has performed well and risen 10 spots on KenPom in just a week. Dug McDaniel and Olivier Nkamhoua performed particularly well in the team’s two wins.
However, last week’s success came against two weak opponents. Things won’t be so easy this time around, as Michigan goes on the road to face a quickly improving St. John’s team under legendary head coach Rick Pitino. The Red Storm have a dynamic offense led by Daniss Jenkins in the backcourt. It should be a fantastic sight to see Jenkins battle against McDaniel. Tarris Reed will also have his hands full down low with Joel Soriano.
Michigan probably has the better overall roster and more talent, but the road trip accompanied with Pitino’s coaching prowess should make this a tough one. Expect a competitive game that could go either way.
- Pick: St. John’s
-Rider Broncs at Nebraska Cornhuskers
- Time/TV: 8:00PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Nebraska by 16
The Huskers opened the season with two convincing wins last week and should get a nice opportunity to build on that this week with Rider at home on Monday. The Brons are rated 237th on KenPom and enter Monday’s game with a 1-1 record after a 30-point loss to Marquette on Friday night. By any measure, this should be a convincing Nebraska win. Look for Eli Rice to get a big opportunity to show out.
- Pick: Nebraska
Picks Record This Season: 17-4