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11/23 Big Ten Preview: Michigan State and Arizona Highlight Turkey Day

NCAA Basketball: Alcorn State at Michigan State Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a handful of games throughout Thanksgiving, highlighted by Arizona and Michigan State meeting midday. Let’s take a look at the upcoming action.

Game of the Day

#3 Arizona Wildcats vs #21 Michigan State Spartans

  • Acrisure Classic
  • Time/TV: 4:00 PM ET Fox
  • Line: Arizona -5.5

In the game of the day Michigan State is set to face Arizona in a top 25 showdown.

The Spartans have underwhelmed at 3-2 so far this year, with a bad loss to (a now ranked) James Madison in the opener and a 9 point loss to Duke. They slightly made up for it with a 20 point win against Butler but a potential 3-3 start with three losses to their top opponents wouldn’t be ideal for Izzo and company.

Arizona has gotten off to a much better start at 5-0, including a win on the road against (at the time) second ranked Duke and scoring at least 100 points in three of five games. The Wildcats have been high flying on offense and a win today would likely put them second in the nation when the next polls drop. Things won’t get any easier for the Wildcats either, with Wisconsin, Purdue, Alabama and Florida Atlantic all on deck in December.

Arizona has been high tempo, making up for their 14.4 turnovers per game by shooting 52.4% from the field, 76.6% from the line and just over 41% from three. It’s early but Arizona also has six different players averaging double figures.

Michigan State has been a bit top heavy with Tyson Walker’s 23 points per game. Only Malik Hall joins him with double figures and Hall is only averaging 10 points per game. Michigan State is struggling from the line at 66.4% and can’t hit from deep, making only 26.3% of their threes.

The Spartans are highly talented and the better defensive team but outside of Walker it’s hard to see Sparty matching the offensive firepower of Arizona. They’ll keep it close but the Wildcats will be too much on the offensive side of the ball and give Michigan State a third loss in November.

Pick: Arizona

The Rest

Penn State Nittany Lions vs #12 Texas A&M Aggies

  • ESPN Events Invitational
  • Time/TV: 12:00 PM ET ESPN
  • Line: Texas A&M -6.5

In the first game today Penn State is set to tip off against the 12th ranked Aggies in Orlando. Penn State is 4-0 so far this season but their four wins have all came against lower tied mid-majors. On the flipside Texas A&M is 4-0 with a pair of wins against Ohio State and SMU as the Aggies have had a more difficult schedule so far this season.

Penn State is led by a mix of guard Kanye Clary and forward Qudus Wahab. Clary leads the Nittany Lions with 17.5 points per game, though he is averaging just under four turnovers per game. Wahab has been a force inside with 11 points and 12.3 rebounds per game in just over 23 minutes an outing. Penn State’s perimeter shooting hasn’t been particularly great this year so far, averaging under 30%.

Tonight’s game might end up as a more traditional Big Ten slugfest, especially with the Aggies shooting an ice cold sub 25% from three. The Aggies make up for their shooting woes by averaging just 7.3 turnovers per game and hitting just under 76% from the free throw line. The Aggies have a more talented backcourt and have limited mistakes so far while facing a much more difficult schedule than the Nittany Lions.

This will prove to be a good test for Penn State but the Nittany Lions are still a work in progress set to be overmatched by a much more talented Aggies squad.

Pick: Texas A&M

Oklahoma Sooners vs Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Rady Children’s Invitational
  • Time/TV: 3:00 PM ET FS1
  • Line: Oklahoma -1.5

Iowa looks to improve to 4-1 today if they can knock off the Sooners. Iowa has excelled once again on the offensive front, scoring at least 84 points in all four games. Their defense hasn’t looked that dreadful, though that’s mainly because three of their four opponents have been mid-majors. In their lone game versus a quality opponent they gave up 92 points to Creighton in an 8 point loss.

The Sooners have also thrived offensively, scoring at least 82 points in all four games. Of course that’s came against considerably inferior opposition, with the Hawkeyes set to be their most difficult opponent until at least December.

Oklahoma is averaging 51% from the field and just under 80% from the line, though they’re a bit icy from beyond the arc. Iowa has been laughably inept on the defensive side of the ball under Fran McCaffery and their ineptitude on that side of the ball should be enough for Oklahoma to edge out a win.

Pick: Oklahoma

Michigan Wolverines vs Stanford Cardinals

  • Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis
  • Time/TV: 7:30 PM ET ESPN

Michigan and Stanford meet today after both teams lost their opening game in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Michigan dropped a close game to Memphis in the opener, squandering a 50-28 rebounding advantage mainly due to their 18 turnovers, inability to convert at the line and 8 of 24 shooting from three. Stanford arguably overachieved with a double overtime loss to Arkansas by three points.

Both teams have pretty bad losses, with Stanford losing to Santa Clara and Michigan falling to Long Beach State. The Wolverines have the more talented program and have shown flashes of lookin good, which should most likely be enough against a so-so Stanford team that just had to play two additional overtimes yesterday.

Pick: Michigan