Indiana is just too good and will handle Minnesota at home. The Butler loss has shown that the Hoosiers are far from invincible, but that was at a neutral court, and that was an aberration. This is at the Indiana version of Assembly Hall, with its weird design and thousands of loud fans. The Hoosiers will feed Zeller early and often and get Mbakwe in foul trouble. Look for Oladipo and Ferrell to have big games, and Hulls might just hit a couple of threes. I haven't even mentioned Sheehey or Watford; that's how loaded this team is. The Gophers are good, but they won't be able to keep up with IU's depth on the road.
Illinois is coming off of a disappointing loss, but they'll beat the Badgers on Saturday. The Fighting Illini were hitting a lot of threes before conference play started and they shot a dismal 3-24 against Minnesota. That will change at the Kohl Center on Saturday. The whole "they're due" thing doesn't really make a lot of sense, but come on, they're due. They didn't even shoot that well from outside against Ohio State, and they still won easily. And I didn't even mention that Wisconsin is having a down year.
Wisconsin does not lose at home (very often). They won't lose at home to Illinois this Saturday. Illinois has played pretty well at times, but not on the road in conference play. Bo's Badgers will play a nice, slow pace and the Illini will chuck up a bunch of threes early in the shot clock to play right into his hands. Did you see how many threes Illinois missed against Minnesota? That kind of shooting is contagious, and it doesn't just last for one game. Burst, Berggren and Evans will all play well in front of the home crowd and will remain undefeated in conference play.
Penn State needs to win a conference game. The Tim Frazier injury has really hurt this team, but they will still pull out a couple conference wins this year. Win #1: This Sunday at Purdue. The Boilers are not a tourney team this year, but they will still probably be overconfident. Pat "Don't Call Me Tom" Chambers will notch his first victory at Mackey Arena: mark it down.
Purdue will beat Penn State easily. Mackey Arena is a good home court environment, and Purdue knows they need this win to stay in the hunt for the NIT. The Nittany Lions won't be able to handle AJ Hammons on the inside and Terone Johnson should be able to drive inside and get to the line, where he is no longer atrocious. Besides, this is the best thing about Penn State basketball this year.
Michigan is a force to be reckoned with, and Ohio State will not be able to pull off the upset. I don't care if its in Columbus; this is the Wolverines' year. Sure, they'll lose a few conference games, but this won't be one of them. They have Trey Burke (who might be the best player in the conference), Jordan Morgan (who's not afraid to throw a cheap shot), Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Glenn Robinson III (sons of NBAers) among others. Ohio State may have won "The Game", but they won't win this one.
Ohio State needs a signature win, and this game against Michigan will be it. Deshaun Thomas is a streaky scorer, and he will be fired up and ready to go this weekend. If Aaron Craft can be the reason that Bruce Pearl got fired, surely he can be part of the reason that Michigan is no longer undefeated. Thad Matta seems to be moving away from his usual 6-man rotation and spreading some minutes around. That will pay dividends this Sunday when Shannon Scott has a big game and outplays Trey Burke.
Iowa is playing Northwestern this weekend, but it's not football so they will win. The Hawkeyes have had a rough schedule so far, losing to MSU, UM and Indiana. Fran McCaffery knows that for Iowa to make the tourney, they are going to have to win games against the lower tier B1G teams. Roy Marble may not play, but then again Northwestern is without Drew Crawford. Iowa has some talented big guys in Aaron White, Melsahn Basabe, Gabe Olaseni and Adam Woodbury; they will be the difference in this game taking place somewhat near Chicago.
Northwestern is coming off a dominant win over Penn State. You may think Penn State's general awfulness at basketball without Tim Frazier was the main reason for the win, but you'd be wrong. Northwestern got off to a good start against PSU and they will do so again this Sunday. Dave Sobolewski and Co. have figured out how to play without Drew Crawford and they are dangerous. So what if Michigan and Minnesota beat them handily? Those are superb teams; Iowa is not. Northwestern will read their way to a victory.
Nebraska will pull off the upset of the weekend by beating Michigan State at Breslin. They have a new coach this year, Tim "I Will Walk 500" Miles, who was last seen coaching the venerable Colorado State Rams (who are responsible for one of the greatest pictures ever). Last season the Huskers pulled off a big upset against Indiana; this year the team will give Tim Miles his first Big Ten win against one of the conference's top teams. Why will they win? Because MSU is looking past them towards their big game at Penn State next week.
Michigan State will beat Nebraska and it won't be close. For one thing, it is in East Lansing. For another the Spartans are good and the Huskers aren't. Izzo and "The Izziots" (the MSU student section) will provide even more of an edge. The Spartans are deep and talented; they have quality guards (Appling, Harris, Trice and Valentine) and quality inside guys (Dawson, Nix and Payne). The talent disparity is going to be too much for Nebraska to overcome.
#8 Minnesota at #5 Indiana, 12:00 ET BTN
#12 Illinois at Wisconsin, 2:15 ET BTN
Penn State at Purdue, 12:00 ET BTN
#2 Michigan at #15 Ohio State, 1:30 ET CBS
Iowa at Northwestern, 5:30 ET ESPNU
Nebraska at #23 Michigan State, 6:00 ET BTN