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Can Ohio State down Michigan State? Big Ten Basketball Weekend Preview

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Also, you definitely don’t want to watch wisconsin-rutger. Don’t do it.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

I’m back from Bismarck, safe and sound. I know you were really concerned.

Anyway, looking at the big stack of things I had to do today—filling out a raft of forms to adjunct, calling multiple places for wedding bullshit (I actually uttered the phrase “Yeah, we’d love to come taste cupcakes”), writing my two lecture outlines, and getting to the archive to dig through a couple boxes so I can write the next chapter of my dissertation—I decided none of those actually needed to start until I previewed another shitty weekend of Big Ten basketball.

They all seem, though, pretty doomed to be bad. There are two good teams in the Big Ten this year, then about 3 flawed but “contending” teams (here I of course mean Ohio State, Michigan, Minnesota, as we all predicted), a bunch of deeply-flawed teams who could hypothetically knock off those three teams but probably aren’t touching Purdue* and Michigan State, and then Illinois and rutger. I feel like I’m being kind to Indiana and maybe Iowa there, but at least both those teams have some sort of real talent who I’d be scared of going off for 30 and 10 against my squad.

*I should back up here. We are apparently really hurting the feelings of Purdue fans on Twitter and elsewhere who don’t want to admit that their team is only second-best in the Big Ten. It’s happening, guys. Sorry. It’s Michigan State’s conference. But you’re really good, too.

Friday, January 5

wisconsin badgers (9-7, 2-1 B1G) at rutger Scarlet Knights (10-6, 0-3)

6pm | ESPN2 | uw -2.5 | O/U 125.5

Do not watch this game.

Under any fucking circumstance.

Are you a wisconsin fan? You have something better to do, like washing your hair (or just yourself, generally) for the first time in 2018 or knocking back 10 Spotted Cows at the Pair’o’Lakes Bar.

Are you a rutger fan? You...well, you probably don’t have anything better to do, because you’re not actually in New York City and I assume you’ve been snowed into your apartment.

Logan Paul is looking at ESPN2 and thinking, “Wow, bro, that’s a little too far.”

Do not watch this game.

Northwestern Wildcats (10-6, 1-2) at Penn State Nittany Lions (11-5, 1-2)

7pm | FS1 | PSU -6 | O/U 138

The Nittany Lions are a team designed to do all the things Northwestern is bad at defending—slashing to the basket and pushing the tempo in transition. If they impose those things, this will be a fucking disaster.

Tony Carr will spot up and shoot threes when Isiah Brown is inevitably transitioned onto him on defense (because even if Bryant McIntosh is healthy, he’s not playing the whole game like usual), and Scottie Lindsey and Vic Law will likely respond...poorly...to Mike Watkins’ hands in their face if they actually do get into the lane. If Dererk Pardon can continue his run of passable form, hold down Watkins inside, and the ‘Cats can gum up the game, maybe they win their fifth straight at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Side note: How does Shep Garner still have eligibility? How many fucking threes is he gonna make tonight?

Saturday, January 6

Illinois Fighting Illini (10-6, 0-3) at Michigan Wolverines (13-3, 2-1)

11am | BTN

Did you know that Illinois is 2-12 in its last 14 against Michigan? I didn’t, and it almost doesn’t seem believable. But it is.

Finally, I think 11am at Crisler Arena might be one of the Top 4 worst 11am venues in the Big Ten. I mean, we’re talking the obvious ones, like Welsh-Ryan or the Bryce Jordan Center, but the student section at Michigan on a Saturday morning reminds me of a bunch of highlighter-dipped zombies, just hopping up and down mindlessly yelling “ahhhhh” because that is convention but also the only thing curing their hangover is brains.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (11-5, 2-1) at #13 Purdue Boilermakers (14-2, 3-0)

1:15pm | BTN

Nebraska gave up 22 offensive rebounds to Northwestern. Think about what Purdue is going to do to them.

Also, here I do want to register my appreciation of Tanner Borchardt, Nebraska’s big white stiff in the middle who was recently promoted to a scholarship player and is one of those scrappy, high-motor, lunch-pail guys who really gets after it and shoots free throws until the lights go off in the gym.

None of this will matter, because Isaac Haas will murder him.

Indiana Hoosiers (8-7, 1-2) at Minnesota Golden Gophers (13-3, 2-1)

4pm | ESPN2

Reggie Lynch is suspended from the University of Minnesota until 2020. He is suspended from athletic competition. Mark Coyle will not discuss specifics.

Indiana is not good and it still probably won’t matter, because those are just more rebounds Jordan Murphy can pull down.

Sunday, January 6

#1 Michigan State Spartans (15-1, 3-0) at Ohio State Buckeyes (12-4, 3-0)

3:30pm | CBS

Who predicted this would be the marquee matchup of the reason so far? Raise your hand.

Put it down, you liar. I almost want to tune in to watch this one, because Value City Arena could actually be hoppin’ for a pole position matchup.

Iowa Hawkeyes (9-8, 0-4) at Maryland Terrapins (13-4, 2-2)

7pm | FS1

Conversely, this might’ve been a game that, at the start of the season, I would’ve predicted would be one of the dark-horse good games of the season.

Now it’s a Maryland team where I’m pretty sure everyone is dead against an Iowa team that I’m pretty sure wishes it was dead. Bruno Fernando vs. Tyler Cook could be a fun matchup, and Kevin Huerter should appropriately terrorize the Hawkeyes’ backcourt, but this is one that I’m expecting will just kind of happen to us, rather than be must-see TV.


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