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Big Ten Basketball Midweek Previews: Well The Big Ten Plays Every Day Now So...

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The No. 3 team in the country is tied for 7th in the Big Ten. Just like we all predicted!

Illinois head coach Brad Underwood reacts during a NCAA Big Ten Conference men’s basketball game against Iowa, Monday, Dec. 6, 2021 Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

Wednesday, January 5

Nebraska Cornhuskers at No. 10 Michigan State Spartans

7:00 PM Eastern, Big Ten Network | MSU -15.5 | O/U 148.5

Jesse Collins: Well, Nebraska-Michigan State is certainly SOMETHING, and while the Ohio State game gives me some hope that Hoiberg has this team in fighting shape, I don’t think I’m expecting anything short of a double-digit loss.

That said, dumb things happen all the time, so I’ll go into it with some hope.

But yeah, this is going to be dumb. Here’s hoping Swaggy K gets hot from deep and makes it a game.

Green Akers: A cushiony-as-the-Big-Ten-gets early schedule continues for MSU, which as far as I know is also back to full strength.

Nebraska’s one statistical strength is forcing turnovers, and…uhh…I don’t love that, but as long as MSU keeps it to 15 or fewer, the Huskers’ struggles on offense should keep this from being a serious upset threat. Avoid looking ahead to an eminently smashable Michigan team and this ought to be a win.

Penn State Nittany Lions at Northwestern Wildcats

9:00 PM Eastern, Big Ten Network | Northwestern -7.5 | O/U 130

misdreavus79: Back to our regularly scheduled programming. Penn State did well to hold Trayce Jackson-Davis to an inefficient 8-of-18 for his 20 points, while holding the Indiana shooters to 4-of-17 shooting from beyond the arc.

If they want to replicate the success in this game, they need to do an even better job of holding the Wildcats’ litany of outside shooters from getting hot. And, while Pete Nance and Ryan Young aren’t the aforementioned Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson, they’re still good enough to make the Nittany Lions pay if they don’t account for each one. John Harrar has done a good job of staying out of foul trouble, and while this will be Greg Lee’s third game since being cleared to play, he needs to find a way to not commit four fouls in less than 20 minutes of play, because Penn State will need him for this one.

MNW: Well, here’s a must-win for Northwestern, and the calendar’s barely turned.

Other bubble programs out there like San Francisco are doing the right (and objectively cool) thing of playing BracketBusters games with Loyola-Chicago in a JUCO gym in Salt Lake City, and Northwestern’s not rescheduling DePaul and playing Illinois-Springfield. So yeah, you need to take care of business at home.

I don’t know as much about the Shrewsberry Era at Penn State—other than it tastes like Shrewsberries—outside the fact that John Harrar is in his eighth year of eligibility and will pull down double-digit rebounds and infuriate me. I would love to see Northwestern not just sustain its intensity, but commit to attacking the Lions’ lack of height inside. Get Ry-M-C-A Eurosteppin’ on ‘em, and for the love of God, Chase Audige and Boo Buie—if they’re not falling, stop forcing them. Keep a close eye on those latter two: if their shots are falling, ‘Cats could roll...but that’s not been A Thing so far this season.

Thursday, January 6

More previews here now.

Maryland Terrapins at Illinois Fighting Illini

7:00 PM Eastern, ESPN2 | Illinois -11

BoilerUp89: Illinois has a national POTY candidate center and a collection of talented guards to surround him with. Maryland has a interim coach. One of these teams should be ranked right now and it isn’t the Terrapins.

Despite this I don’t think it’s impossible for Maryland to pull off the upset. To beat Illinois Maryland is going to have to do 2 of 3 things: 1) Keep the rebounding margin within 5. Illinois is an exceptional rebounding team and has used their advantage on the offensive glass to bludgeon teams that don’t have the size to stop them from getting second chance points. Maryland is a better rebounding team that any of the Illini’s first three conference opponents but none of those rebounding margins have been single digits. 2) Get Illinois to turn the ball over more than 16 times. The Illini are turning the ball over on greater than 20% of their possessions this season. If Maryland can increase that number for this game like Marquette and Iowa did they will have a chance. 3) Have a great shooting night from 3 while the Illini have a poor-just okay one. The 3 point ball is the great equalizer.

No. 13 Ohio State Buckeyes at Indiana Hoosiers

7:00 PM Eastern, FS1 | Indiana -3.5

Buffkomodo: Ohio State is ranked 13th…I honestly don’t know how good anyone is anymore. If there’s one thing do I know, it’s that I’m certain Indiana is a middle of the road B1G team. That middle of the road team plays in Assembly Hall which is an incredibly tough place to play.

Indiana has more than a decent shot to win. I don’t find Ohio State to be so much better than Indiana that a Hoosier win is shocking. If Indiana can get decent guard play out of XJ, Stewart, Bates, and Rob, they can beat anyone in the hall. They need a bounce back after that atrocious outing at Penn State, and I honestly think it’s on brand for Indiana to win this one.

MaximumSam: A fun matchup - the Hoosiers are up to 9th on Torvik in defensive efficiency though only 80th on offense. The buckeyes are 10th on offense but 83rd on defense. A real mirror image for two teams.

OSU still missing Sueing and Towns, and Kyle Young is a game time decision with the “non-COVID illness,” which could be anything from cancer to excessive amounts of Takis. They could really use Young in this game - dealing with TJD and Race Thompson is a load and coming in shorthanded ain’t going to get it done.

Iowa Hawkeyes at No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers

9:00 PM Eastern, FS1 | Wisconsin -3

stewmonkey13: First and foremost, Fuck wisconsin.

I just don’t feel great about this matchup, right now, though. It’s at the Kohl Center and while I think Iowa is capable of winning, they’re just not playing consistently. The rebounding is terrible and the defense is bad. Iowas done a decent job at creating turnovers, but wisconsin just doesn’t turn it over much. And someone other than Keegan Murray is going to need to step up. Plus who is guarding Johnny Davis? It just doesn’t feel like a good matchup.

Still, Hawks by a million, because, again, and I cannot stress this enough: Fuck wisconsin.

Kind of...: Iowa has won the last four against Wisconsin. I can’t remember the last time that happened. Probably before Sam Okey played for either team.

The Davis/Murray showdown is intriguing, of course. I’m also curious to see if Joe Toussaint’s pure speed gives Chucky Hepburn any trouble. I do expect UW’s bigs to look pretty good. All due respect to Filip Rebraca, but he’s preferable to Trevion Williams and Zack Edey.

Given that Iowa doesn’t appear to do any better of a job of moving their feet on defense, I give this game a 55% chance of having a Frantrum: