There may not be any football this weekend, but fear not. There’s a full slate of Big Ten games to get you through.
#7 Iowa @ #19 Illinois, 9 PM Friday, FS1
Just one game tonight, but it’s a good one. This will be the Hawkeyes’ first action since losing to Indiana last Thursday after their matchup with Nebraska was cancelled. Iowa had ripped off five straight wins before that loss, so we’ll see if Luka Garza and company can start a new win streak against Illinois. The Hawkeyes will need to be better from three point range, as shooting just 5 of 23 from beyond the arc sealed their fate against the Hoosiers.
The Illini also haven’t seen the court in over a week, a 79-65 win over Penn State last Tuesday. Quietly off to a 10-5 start, I still think Illinois has the potential of a Final Four team. With the #2 and #7 scorers in the conference, Ayo Dosunmu & Kofi Cockburn, they’re extremely dangerous at all times. Cockburn vs. Garza will be the matchup to watch for. The game also features the two best three-point shooting teams in the Big Ten, so look for a lot of points to be scored.
#14 Wisconsin @ Penn State, 3 PM Saturday, BTN
Indiana/Michigan was cancelled due to Michigan’s athletics-wide quarantine, so Wisconsin-Penn State will be the first game on Saturday. The Badgers are off to a 13-4 start, coming off a win over Maryland last Wednesday. The Badgers’ balanced scoring attack has worked well thus far.
After starting 0-5 in the conference, Penn State won two in a row before falling to Ohio State last Wednesday, 83-79. Regardless, the Nittany Lions look much better than they did to start the season. Seth Lundy has been on a roll lately, scoring 26 in the loss to the Buckeyes. If his team is to beat Wisconsin, Lundy will need to come up big again.
#21 Minnesota @ Purdue, 7:30 PM, BTN
The Golden Gophers were defeated by Maryland the last we saw them on Saturday. Marcus Carr scored 25 of the team’s 49 points in that effort, so Minnesota will have to better support him against Purdue.
The Boilermakers had won four straight before a brutal 17-point loss to Michigan last Friday. Leading scorer Trevion Williams has been fantastic for Purdue this season.
This will be an important contest for two teams currently in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten to move up and improve their position.
Michigan State @ #13 Ohio State, 1 PM Sunday, CBS
I just watched Michigan State/Rutgers and let me tell you, this isn’t Tom Izzo’s best bunch. Did they crush Rutgers just a few weeks ago? Perhaps. But that was also the worst I had seen the Scarlet Knights play in a long time. This Michigan State team seems helpless at times. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt – maybe their long layoff hurt them. Before Thursday, MSU hadn’t played since January 8th.
The Spartans are 2-5 in the conference with the aforementioned win over Rutgers, and as well as a victory against Nebraska. Ohio State is simply the better team. However, this is the Big Ten. Anyone can win on any given day.
I always talk about how great EJ Liddell is for the Buckeyes because I love his game. Another key for Ohio State is getting efficient play from Duane Washington. Washington is the team’s second leading scorer, but is shooting just 36.7% from the field. He’s had some erratic performances. The better Washington is, the more of a threat the Buckeyes are.
Rutgers @ Northwestern, 7:30 PM, BTN
I don’t wanna say Rutgers is fully back, because that losing streak was horrific. But they’ve looked like a completely different team in their wins over Indiana on Sunday & Michigan State Thursday night. Myles Johnson was fantastic in the win over the Spartans, with a game-high 13 points and 14 rebounds. He also did this:
Northwestern will be in the Scarlet Knights’ way as they try and make it three wins in a row. After starting 3-0 in Big Ten play, the Wildcats have lost a brutal seven in a row. Let’s see if they can end the streak Sunday night.
Tweet me @ncostanzo24 or hit us up @tfrontoffice to get in on this weekend’s action.