The 2022 Big Ten Tournament tips off on Wednesday and fans will get to enjoy plenty of action, including two teams competing for postseason eligibility. The early game will feature a matchup between Ohio State and Wisconsin. Minnesota and Nebraska will then face off later on.
Let’s take a look at the schedule.
Game of the Day:
-No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers vs. No. 13 Ohio State Buckeyes
- Time/TV: 6:30 PM ET (CBS)
- KenPom Spread: Ohio State by 1
When the season began, few would have expected this matchup on Wednesday in the Big Ten Tournament. Both teams were coming off NCAA Tournament bids and the Badgers shared last season’s Big Ten title. Add in the incredible success of these programs over the last two decades and two proven head coaches and it seemed like a safe bet both would finish at (or near) the top of the Big Ten.
Unfortunately for Badger and Buckeye fans, that wasn’t the case.
While both teams started well, they hit some rough ground as conference play began. Wisconsin lost six of seven games in January and Ohio State had an even worse run, dropping 14 of 15 games in January and February. It left the Buckeyes well outside the NCAA Tournament picture and the Badgers right on the edge of the bubble. That makes Wednesday’s meeting particularly important, as a loss could spell doom for both.
Interestingly, while Wisconsin’s resume is superior, the advanced stats still favor the Buckeyes in the matchup. KenPom has Ohio State as a narrow favorite in what’s expected to be a tight game. The key here will be on the “weak” side of the court for both teams, with an underwhelming Ohio State defense facing a troublesome Wisconsin offense. Both units rank well outside the top 100 on KenPom, meaning whoever outplays expectations on that side of the floor could very well come out on top.
One key matchup will be on the boards. Wisconsin has been hit or miss there over the last few weeks and the Buckeyes have been that way for months, especially with Zed Key going out with injury. If Tyler Wahl and Steven Crowl can clean things up, Wisconsin has a good shot at coming out with a win.
All told, expect a tight game that gets ugly at points. However, Wisconsin has more on the line and should be able to edge out a win.
- Pick: Wisconsin
-No. 11 Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. No. 14 Minnesota Golden Gophers
- Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Penn State by 1
The late game will also have plenty of intrigue, as Nebraska attempts to keep its late season push going against a Minnesota squad showing some recent signs of life. The Huskers have won six of the team’s last eight games and the Gophers are coming off a recent upset of Rutgers last week. Nebraska’s hopes of an NIT bid hang in the balance. It could mark the program’s first postseason bid since 2019.
The game itself will likely come down to how Minnesota performs against a tough Husker defense. The Gophers found enough scoring to get past Rutgers last week thanks to 20 points from Jamison Battle. However, Nebraska’s defense is probably every bit as tough and has been playing really well lately. Battle will need a huge performance if Minnesota is going to keep things going.
Fans should also keep an eye on Keisei Tominaga, who’s scored double-digits in nine straight games. He’s quietly having one of the better last few weeks in the league and could be set for a special week in Chicago. Minnesota’s challenge will be slowing him down. However, easier said than done. All told, this should be a Husker win.
- Pick: Nebraska
Picks Record: 94-40-0