Big Ten Basketball Game-by-Game Predictions: Week 6
Big Ten Basketball Predictions: Week 6
The Big Ten is arguably the best conference in college basketball and it's easy to say that because it possesses five ranked teams, all of which are in the top 20.
Indiana finds themselves back at the top spot in the latest AP rankings as they defeated No. 1 Michigan last week at home to earn back the right to call themselves the best team in college basketball.
Although Michigan was defeated, they only fell two spots to No. 3 in the newest edition of the top 25 rankings. The Wolverines will be poised to ensure that this tough week of basketball(vs. Ohio State, at Wisconsin) doesn't ignite a free-fall.
There happen to be six teams within the top spot in the conference race-- all of those teams are within three games of one another. Indiana is the team to beat right now, followed by Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, making for an interesting rivalry-ridden final month of the season.
The conference has some great teams, but it also has some star players. Trey Burke showed that he may just be the best point guard, if not the best player, in college basketball in Saturday's loss at Indiana. The sophomore guard scored 25 points, dished out eight assists and grabbed five boards, keeping the Wolverines in the game with his strong play.
Indiana's Victor Oladipo and Michigan State's Adriean Payne have both been unstoppable as of late. In the past four games, Oladipo has averaged 18 points, 3.5 steals and 5.3 rebounds-- a tremendous show of versatility. Payne has scored double-digits in five out of the past seven games for the Spartans. He has shown his range as well, scoring from seemingly everywhere on the floor and shooting seven for 10 from outside-- an impressive mark for a big man.
I'm going to take a look at all the Big Ten games for week six and make my picks. Some picks may surprise you, but that's just how the Big Ten is: unpredictable.
Purdue vs. Penn State, 7:00 p.m. Tuesday
Purdue travels to Penn State on Tuesday night to take on the last place Nittany Lions. The Nittany Lions are currently winless(0-9) in Big Ten play and look to end that streak at home against a mediocre Boilermaker squad. Purdue's only four wins in conference come against Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Penn State-- the bottom four teams in the conference. I think Purdue will once again get the best of Penn State behind the strong play of junior guard Terone Johnson who is the team's leading scorer and shoots an incredible 57% from the floor.
Prediction: Purdue 64, Penn State 57
Ohio State vs. Michigan, 9:00 p.m. Tuesday
Michigan traveled to Columbus earlier this season to take on Ohio State and the Buckeyes outlasted the Wolverines, taking a huge early lead and holding on after a furious comeback. This time around, the tables will turn as the Buckeyes will have to travel to their rivals backyard-- Ann Arbor. This is the start of a tough week for the Buckeyes and Wolverines as they will both face off against top conference teams this weekend. The Wolverines will ride the play of Trey Burke to a win as they take down the Buckeyes in a close, heated battle to the finish.
Prediction: Ohio State 70, Michigan 78
Minnesota vs. Michigan State, 7:00 p.m. Wednesday
Wednesday night features a battle of two ranked opponents and two teams fighting for the top spot in the conference. Earlier this season, Michigan State had to travel to hostile territory to face off against then-No. 9 Minnesota. The Spartans put up a good fight and kept it close until the final three minutes in which the Gophers went on a 15-0 scoring run to end the game. The Spartans are now the higher ranked team and look to be hitting their stride just in time for a rematch with one of their only two conference losses. The Gophers will likely make this one interesting with their athleticism playing a key role, but Adriean Payne will continue to torch the nets, putting up another double-digit scoring and rebounding performance with a double-double.
Prediction: Minnesota 65, Michigan State 74
Iowa vs. Wisconsin, 9:00 p.m. Wednesday
The late game on Wednesday night is a rematch between Iowa and Wisconsin. The Badgers are still upset about losing to the Hawkeyes in mid-January and this is their chance to show them just how upset they really are. The Hawkeyes are a much-improved team from past years and will likely put up a good fight against Wisconsin, but the ultimately, the Badgers are next to impossible to beat at the Kohl Center under Bo Ryan. Look for the Badgers to rain three-pointer all night long against Iowa to win a big one and keep their Big Ten hopes alive.
Prediction: Iowa 53, Wisconsin 68
Indiana vs. Illinois, 7:00 p.m. Thursday
While home-court advantage is seemingly everything in the Big Ten, the Indiana Hoosiers are just to good and may be the only exception to that assumption. The Hoosiers are 4-0 away from home this season and will travel to Champagne on Thursday to take on Illinois. This will be Indiana's toughest road test of the season thus far, but they have won each road game this year by an average of 18 points per game. The Hoosiers and Cody Zeller will prove to be far too much for the Fighting Illini to handle as they escape with a win-- a close one at that.
Prediction: Indiana 78, Illinois 73
Michigan vs. Wisconsin, 12:00 p.m. Saturday
Michigan faces their second Big Ten contender of the week as they travel to Madison for a matinee game against Wisconsin. The Badgers are a tough out at home, but they will likely have their hands full with a rock solid Wolverines squad. Michigan just lost their second game of the season last Saturday and also lost their top-ranking in the country. That is enough reason to ensure that a fire is lit underneath them to avoid losing two of three games, or even more. Tim Hardaway Jr. will show up and have a great game as the Wolverines run out of Madison with a 'W'.
Prediction: Michigan 67, Wisconsin 61
Northwestern vs. Iowa, 4:30 p.m. Saturday
After a loss early in the week against Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes will rebound nicely and take care of business against Northwestern. The Wildcats are one of the lowest scoring teams in college basketball and they don't particularly do well in any offensive category other than assists. They will have a tough day against Iowa as the Hawkeyes outrebound Northwestern mightily as well as put up big numbers to avoid their second conference loss of the week.
Prediction: Northwestern 56, Iowa 70
Michigan State vs. Purdue, 7:00 p.m. Saturday
This is the second meeting between the Spartans and Boilermakers this season. Michigan State has enjoyed success against Purdue in the past couple of seasons, but winning in West Lafayette is a different story. Although this isn't one of the better Matt Painter-coached teams, they will still put up a fight to keep the Spartans fighting for their conference title dreams. This could be a trap game for the Spartans as they face in-state rival Michigan at home the following Tuesday. However, the Spartans will hold off Purdue to win their ninth conference game and move one step closer to a Big Ten title.
Prediction: Michigan State 72, Purdue 66
Penn State vs. Nebraska, 9:00 p.m. Saturday
Penn State will take their winless conference record to Nebraska on Saturday night to take on the Cornhuskers. Nebraska is the newest team in the conference and has been one of the worst teams in basketball in the past two seasons. It's not a guaranteed win when traveling to Nebraska and Penn State will find that out quickly, but in the end, the Nittany Lions will finally get their first win of the Big Ten season, through eleven games. Penn State's strong guard play will take them over the top as Nebraska will once again show why they are a football school.
Prediction: Penn State 63, Nebraska 60
Indiana vs. Ohio State, 1:00 p.m. Sunday
Bold prediction time: this will be the sixth straight week that a No. 1 team has fallen. The Indiana Hoosiers will face the daunting task of traveling to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes while the Buckeyes face the daunting task of hosting the No. 1 team in the nation. Aaron Kraft is one of the best on-ball defenders in the Big Ten and will give the Hoosiers fits on Sunday. While Kraft is giving the Hoosiers a tough time, Deshaun Thomas will put them away with his sharp-shooting and score over 20 points once again for the Buckeyes. Tough season for No. 1 teams.
Prediction: Indiana 67, Ohio State 75
Illinois vs. Minnesota, 6:00 p.m. Sunday
Sunday is definitely 'Funday' for Big Ten fans as there are two great games. The second game of the day features a free-falling Illinois team traveling to Minnesota to take on a tough Gophers team. Minnesota has been a pleasant surprise in the conference this season for Tubby Smith as his team went from unranked to top-10 after a 15-1 start, while Illinois has been all downhill after a 12-0 start, going 3-8 since. Each team will ride their respective waves and Minnesota win another game at "the Barn" to improve their conference record to 6-5 after a loss earlier in the week to Michigan State while Illinois fears that missing the tournament is a serious possibility.
Prediction: Illinois 58, Minnesota 74