Weekend Basketball Preview
|Minnesota (11-3) at Penn State (10-4) 2:00 BTN|
In what is looking to be a three, maybe four team, race for the Big Ten crown this year, both Minnesota and Penn State want to establish themselves as "best of the rest". The Nittany Lions are off to a 2-0 start in conference play with road wins over Northwestern and Illinois. Senior Geary Claxton leads Penn State and is second in the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 18.6 points per game. Minnesota is 1-1 in conference after an easy home win over Northwestern on Wednesday. The Gophers are ranked 3rd in the Big Ten in scoring offense and 1st in 3-point shooting, hitting on 38.5% of their threes.
BTC Prediction: Minnesota 70 Penn State 66
Ohio State (12-3) at Purdue (10-5) 4:00 BTN
Ohio State seems to be the forgotten team in this year's conference race. The Buckeyes have started 3-0 in Big Ten play after their complete domination of Iowa on Wednesday night. OSU has a young team led by veteran guard Jamar Butler. Butler is averaging 14 points per game and currently leads the Big Ten with 6.3 assists per game. Purdue proved they have the capabilities of being a very dangerous team in their 78-75 loss at Michigan State this week. The Boilermakers have a young team full of talent, but they have also been very inconsistent so far this season. This is the same team that dropped a home game to Wofford earlier in the year.
BTC Prediction: Ohio State 67 Purdue 60
Michigan (4-11) at Northwestern (5-7) 6:30 BTN
Michigan and Northwestern will both battle it out with Iowa this year for 9th in the Big Ten or tops of the bottom feeders. Both are 0-3 so far in conference play, and Michigan has lost five straight overall. This is the kind of high-flying action Comcast and other cable subscribers are missing without the Big Ten Network!
BTC Prediction: Michigan 66 Northwestern 64
Michigan State (14-1) at Iowa (7-9) 8:30 BTN
Michigan State has won 11 straight contests and 2 straight to start the Big Ten schedule, but the Spartans have not played a true road game since their 66-61 win at Bradley in early December. MSU ranks 2nd in the conference in scoring offense, 1st in field goal percentage and 2nd in rebounding. Sophomore forward Raymar Morgan is having a breakout year leading the team with 18.1 points per game. Iowa was blown out by Ohio State on Wednesday after staying close in their first two conference losses with Indiana and Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes' Justin Johnson leads the Big Ten in three-pointers made and attempted, but shot just 3 of 13 from behind the arc in their loss at Ohio State.
BTC Prediction: Michigan State 68 Iowa 53
Illinois (8-8) at Indiana (13-1) 4:30 CBS
Illinois fell to 0-3 in conference play with their 70-60 loss last night at Wisconsin. The Illini defense is not what it has been in years past, while their offense has been inept for most of the season. Currently, Illinois ranks 10th(ahead of only Iowa) in the Big Ten scoring 65.8 points per game. Indiana leads the conference in scoring offense averaging 82.6 points per game this season. The Hoosiers are led by Eric Gordon (23.5 ppg) and D.J. White (16.7 ppg), who are both in the top 5 of Big Ten scoring leaders. Sunday will be Indiana's first home game in conference play.
BTC Prediction: Indiana 75 Illinois 62