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2/2 Big Ten Preview: Wisconsin Heads to Ohio State

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

There are a pair of Big Ten games tonight early this evening involving a trio of teams that desperately need a big win today. Let’s take a look at the upcoming action.

Game of the Night

Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET FS1
  • Line: Ohio State -8.0

After starting 9-2 the Badgers have gone 3-6 their past nine games. The rough stretch started in part due to the loss of Tyler Wahl, but even with the forward returning Wisconsin has looked out of sorts. Wisconsin has struggled to score, shooting 33% from the field in their double digit home loss to Illinois last time out. What once looked like a promising season is looking like the Badgers could straight up miss the postseason if they don’t turn things around shortly.

Enter Ohio State.

The Buckeyes started 10-3 and 2-0 in conference play but a loss to Purdue kickstarted a five game skid and Ohio State has gone 1-7 the past eight, falling to 11-10 and 3-7 in the league. The schedule doesn’t lighten up, either, with Michigan, Northwestern, Michigan State, Iowa and Purdue all on deck.

One bright spot for the Buckeyes has been Brice Sensabaugh, who has led the team in scoring the past twelve games. The guard is averaging 17.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Ohio State has a few more pieces on the roster, including forwards Justice Sueing and Zed Key, and a few guards that can shoot from three. Their defense is considerably worse than their offense, though. Of course that might not be as big of a deal facing off against a Wisconsin team with the 126th most efficient offense and a tempo ranking of 349th in the nation.

While both these teams have struggled as of late, the Badgers inability to score should be the difference maker. If Wisconsin can’t find a way to score the ball on the road against one of the leagues better offenses, it’s hard to see them knocking off the Buckeyes. Ohio State has looked pretty rough as of late but does enough offensively to secure a win.

Pick: Ohio State

The Rest

Michigan Wolverines at Northwestern Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET ESPN2
  • Line: Northwestern -4.5

In the other game tonight Michigan heads to Evanston to face off against Northwestern. Michigan is in desperate need of a win after a 2-5 run has them sitting at 11-10 and 5-5 in the conference. Their overall resume is pretty rough and they need to string together some wins in a hurry if they want to make it to the postseason. With their most recent stretch including a blowout loss to Penn State and struggling to beat Minnesota at home, things have been looking bleak for the Wolverines.

Tonight they get to face a Northwestern team that climbed all the way up to second place in the league before losing to Iowa. The Wildcats are 3-1 since they missed two games due to COVID-19. The last time these two teams played Northwestern’s defense struggled, giving up 85 points to Michigan in a seven point loss.

Northwestern’s offense has looked much improved thanks to guards Boo Buie and Chase Audige, but they still struggle from deep. They’ve utilized a solid defense to help pick up wins and they’re facing a Michigan team that has looked lost offensively at times this year. Jett Howard has been huge for Michigan, though center Hunter Dickinson has struggled and disappeared at critical times this year.

Based on how both teams have played as of late Northwestern has been the better team. That being said, however, Michigan typically makes a late season push in conference play and a road win against Northwestern would be a good start. Michigan pieces enough together offensively from Howard and Dickinson to land a much needed victory.

Pick: Michigan