With a full slate of Big Ten basketball lined up for midweek, we crowdsourced a little bit of "writing" to break down the games and give us predictions. Or, y'know, skip to the bottom for #GAMETHREAD.
Michigan (-1) at Ohio State
Tuesday, 6pm, ESPN
DJ: The spread on this game is only (-1) to Michigan, but absolutely uninformed honest opinion, Michigan has a very good chance to blow Ohio State out. Ohio State is good on the boards, but they'll face a different challenge when they have to grab the long rebounds from Michigan taking three's all game. Ohio State will need to get it going inside early on and establish the pace they want to play at if they want to win.
Most importantly though, they absolutely need to win on the offensive boards and cannot let Michigan get out in transition. It begs for Michigan to have an open guy for three, and given Ohio State's propensity to turn the ball over I can see Michigan routing Ohio State and making them pay for their turnover issues.
Prediction: Michigan 77, Ohio State 63
Northwestern at #17 Purdue (-13)
Tuesday, 6pm, BTN
MNW: Purdue presents about as big a matchup problem for Northwestern as any team in the conference, something which I'm sure Purdue fans are tired of hearing by now. Alex Olah struggled to contain AJ Hammons last year, and the 'Cats will likely need to rely on their three-man center rotation of Olah/Dererk Pardon/Joey Van Zegeren to keep Purdue honest inside. Oh, wait, there's that Caleb Swanigan kid, too? Fuck. Slap a rotation of "Glue Guy" Sanjay Lumpkin and "White Kid with a Face Mask" Gavin Skelly on him and hope for the best, I suppose.
Assuming the 'Cats can hold the Boilermakers off the boards at any decent clip (I'll take a sub-30% Oreb rate for Purdue), they'll need a great game out of all three of Bryant McIntosh, Tre Demps, and sixth-man-coming-on-hot Scottie Lindsey. In particular Lindsey has exploded as of late, going for double-digits in three of his last four games and shooting 62.5% from deep since being benched for all of a blowout loss to Michigan State.
Ultimately, though, Purdue's length will eventually cause Northwestern the same problems that Ohio State's athleticism did: McIntosh and Demps will struggle to find open looks, Olah will be ineffectual on the inside, and Purdue should pull away. If the 'Cats can hold Purdue under 1.0 PPP, they have a shot.
Prediction: Purdue, 74-62
Rutgers at Illinois (-14)
Tuesday, 8pm, BTN
We'll just leave this preview to a conversation among the OTE "writers":
Thumpasaurus: Rutgers' best player, Corey sanders, is suspended and will not play against the Illini
87townie: Wait wait...Rutgers' best player is suspended? I thought that was just their football team?
Thumpasaurus: Somehow in my mind, that makes me think Illinois will find a way to lose.
Jesse Collins: Without Sanders, Rutgers might score 20 points against Illinois.
Thumpasaurus: Yeah that's what you'd think
Illinois is always coming up with new and innovative ways to be terrible in unexpected ways
Jesse Collins: I mean... Sanders averages 24% of his teams points on the season. I'm not sure where to find it, but over the past few games, he's over 30% of his teams offense... and that's before you count in him being one of the only distributors.
Stewmonkey13: So, whatever Sanders did had to be worse than shoving a guy's head into the floor, right?
[ed note: Or poking eyes repeatedly, amirite?]
Jesse Collins: I mean this when I say that Rutgers might literally get held to single digits in a half sometime in the next two weeks.
Prediction: Illinois, 89-68. It has to be a blowout, right? No Corey Sanders, and Rutgers?
#4 Iowa at Penn State
Wednesday, 5:30pm, BTN
Stew: I'd like to see Iowa come out and just boat race Penn State again, like they did in Iowa City. I want to see a lineup with Andrew Fleming, Christian Williams, the Soukup twins, and Okey Ukah. However, I'm not terribly confident this will happen. Penn State generally plays hard, can get hot, and isn't afraid to take down a team at home (ask Indiana). Add in it's a long trip for Iowa, for an early Wednesday game, after a Sunday night game, in front of dozens of fans, and I'm a bit worried they'll just be flat. I expect a win of about 10ish points, but that the bench doesn't clear, and it's never really in hand until the very end.
Aaron Yorke: Penn State got destroyed by the Hawkeyes during their first meeting in Iowa City, so it's going to take a Herculean effort to pull off the upset, even in the friendly confines of the Bryce Jordan Center. Shep Garner has got to either start hitting three-pointers or get off the court, as he has missed all 16 of his shots from beyond the arc over the past three games.
Fortunately, Josh Reaves has seen his playing time increase over the past two contests and will hopefully be ready to help out for 20 minutes on Wednesday. He's recovering from mononucleosis, and the Lions will desperately need his high-energy style and defense to hang with Iowa.
Finally, Brandon Taylor must touch the ball on every possession and either win his one-on-one matchups in the post or kick to an open shooter when necessary. Said shooter actually connecting on a field goal is another story, but more shots mean less turnovers, right?
Prediction: Iowa 78, Penn State 67
Nebraska at #22 Indiana
Wednesday, 7:30pm, ESPN
Jesse Collins: Nebraska-Indiana is an interesting rematch for lots of reasons, specifically that Nebraska was competitive for great stretches against the Hoosiers but could not buy a bucket to save their collective lives in the second half. I still do not think this team is built to beat better teams without Shavon Shields, but Indiana lost to Penn State, a team that Nebraska handled.
If Andrew White III can get a good, hot start, and Glynn Watson and/or Michael Jacobsen can score double digits, I think the Huskers spring an upset. Of course, I just dont' buy either of those things happening, so take that all with a grain of salt.
Candystripes for Breakfast: The keys for Indiana tonight are pretty simple: get Yogi Ferrell out of the slump he's been in for the last 3 games, keep Thomas Bryant out of foul trouble and let him do his thing, and make sure to get decent production from the guys coming off the bench. And, if any of those don't come to pass, get as much as you can out of OG Anunoby, because he's been known to bail the Hoosiers out a time or two when they've been in trouble.
#6 Maryland (-9.5) at Minnesota
Thursday, 7pm, BTN
DJ: Maryland finally handed down the punishment for Diamond Stone in the form of a one game suspension for this week's matchup with Minnesota. It shouldn't cause too many issues for Maryland other than relying more on their perimeter players and/or forcing Layman to play some minutes at the 4 while Carter Jr. mans the 5 spot. That might not be awful, and given how bad Minnesota is it may give Chekovski and Dodd more burn at the 5 spot and get some valuable minutes in as the tournament gets closer.
Maryland has started playing Jaylen Brantley more of late, signaling they are finally gaining some confidence in the sophomore transfer PG. Maryland needs Brantley to start giving 10-15 minutes a game so that Trimble and Sulaimon can take some breathers on the bench. I'll be watching to see how Trimble does as he continues to nurse the nerve issue in his back, but it sounds like something that needs surgery to fix and that's not going to be an option at this time.
Prediction: Maryland 68, Minnesota 61
Wisconsin at #8 Michigan State (-9)
Thursday, 8pm, ESPN
With Iowa falling at Penn State on Wednesday night, this is a big one for both Wisconsin and Michigan State, who have the opportunity to pull within a game of first place and pass the Hawkeyes in the rankings, respectively. Wisconsin already pulled off the upset once against the Spartans, though it was at the Kohl Center (carry on arguing in the comments about home-cookin' refs) when Nigel Hayes dropped 25 and Bronson Koenig led all scorers with 27 to lift the Badgers over the then-scuffling Spartans.
Wisconsin has continued its winning ways, having reeled off 7 straight since a loss at Northwestern on January 12, and Michigan State has rounded into form, with only a 1-point loss at Purdue marring the Spartans' record over the last six games. It'll be a neat trick if Denzel Valentine can keep his scoring totals rising: In the Spartans' last six games, he has gone for 19, 19, 20, 21, 27, and finally 30 in the hamblasting of Indiana.
Of equal importance for the Spartans will be keeping Matt Costello hot inside. The senior has averaged close to a double-double in his last four games, but will have to contend with Ethan Happ on the inside. While Maryland held the freshman from Milan, IL, to just 4 points, he pulled down 10 boards and contained Damonte Dodd and noted head-smasher Diamond Stone.
All this is to say: Michigan State should be able to use their Breslin Center magic to halt Wisconsin's winning streak, but Greg Gard seems to have picked up the Bo Ryan mantle of 4th-place finishes, so you'll forgive those Wisconsin fans believing the Badgers can get it done tonight (because I refuse to forgive Wisconsinites). It's gonna be slow, it's gonna be physical, and at the end I think Michigan State has just enough firepower off the bench (Wisconsin's bench went for just 2 the last time these two teams met) to get the win.
Prediction: Michigan State 70, Wisconsin 61
This will serve as your open thread, in addition to so many other things, for this week of Big Ten basketball. Go nuts, you crazy kids. Usual rules apply.