We're trying out something new here, it's the debut of "The Three-Game-Weave" as we look at the three biggest games each weekend involving Big Ten teams. This weekend we've got a few great matchups and even a rare mid-January non-conference tilt. So, let's get into our biggest games of the weekend ahead shall we?
1) No. 11 Ohio State @ No. 18 Michigan State (6pm ET, ESPN)
– This is purely a battle to control their own destiny in the Big Ten race – win and you remain in contention and a step above the rest, lose and you are now going to need help and to play at the top of your game the ret of the way in the deepest and most upset prone conference in the country.
– MSU needs to stop DeShaun Thomas (I know, captain obvious, right?), but it's that simple. He is the Buckeyes scoring and if you can hold him to somewhere between 10-15 points they can't win a basketball game, it's that simple. Why? Well, they can't find any consistent scoring from anyone else.
– Speaking of consistent scoring, that's been MSU's problem as well, but more so because they can't seem to keep the same lineup on the court from one game to the next – whether it's from injury or from internal fist fights, whatever the case may be they need to play team basketball on Saturday and get the home crowd involved early and often if they want to upend the Buckeyes.
Prediction: Ohio State 77, Michigan State 74
2) Wisconsins @ Iowa (8pm ET, BTN)
– Wisconsin is going to look to avenge their season sweep at the hands of the Hawkeyes, while the Hawkeyes are looking to build off of a 20 point blowout over Northwestern earlier this week – their 1st win in the Big Ten this season.
– Style of play will really be key as we all know the Badgers like to play a slower style (not quite the turtle pace of last year, but not exactly run and gun either) and Iowa woudl be perfectly fine running all game long. The edge in this category has to go to the Badgers because they've figured out their early issues with transition defense and are looking much, much more like the defense we saw last season.
Prediction: Wisconsin 69, Iowa 61
3) Nebraska @ Penn State (1pmET, ESPNU)
– Hey this one is big time, I mean, it's for sole possession of last place in the conference! O.k., so it may not be a "big time" important matchup to the top of the conference, but the winner of this one could finally get a bit of confidence going and it appears that that's exactly what both of these teams need in order to really be competitive – well, that and a deeper and more talented roster, but that's not coming anytime soon.
– This game will be a good one to watch simply because the guard play will be the only thing that matters. Nebraska's Dylan Talley (13.2ppg), Ray Gallegos (13.1ppg), and Brandon Ubel (12.1ppg) are about the only offense the Huskers have this seaon and they'll be going up against the scoring duo of D.J. Newbill (15.6ppg) and Jermaine Marshall (15ppg).
– Whomever reaches 60 points first may well win this one as Nebraska has gone 7 games without scoring above 59 points and Penn State, well, they have only scored more than in the 50's once in Big Ten play and they still lost (81-72 last time out to Michigan State).
Prediction: Nebraska 66, Penn State 58