Big Ten Basketball: Michigan vs. Northwestern/Penn State vs. Wisconsin Previews

Ryan CuriFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2013

ANN ARBOR, MI - DECEMBER 20:  Tim Hardaway Jr. #10 high fives Trey Burke #3 of the Michigan Wolverines after a first half play while playing the Eastern Michigan Eagles at Crisler Center on December 20, 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

On Wednesday night, the first upset of the young Big Ten season occurred as Purdue was able to hold off Illinois at Mackey Arena. The Boilermakers showed that grit and hustle plays can beat talent, as Illinois shot poorly from deep and failed to grab important rebounds.

Ohio State took care of business against Nebraska though, and I don't see an upset happening in either game Thursday night. First Michigan travels to Evanston to face Northwestern, followed by Wisconsin hosting Penn State at the Kohl Center. Here's a look at all four team's lineups:


Michigan vs. Northwestern

Center: Jordan Morgan vs. Alex Olah

Power Forward: Glenn Robinson III vs. Jared Swopshire

Small Forward: Nik Stauskas vs. Kale Abrahamson

Shooting Guard: Tim Hardaway Jr. vs. Alex Marcotullio

Point Guard: Trey Burke vs. David Sobolewski

At center, redshirt junior Morgan gets the edge over freshman Olah. Morgan is in the game to rebound and be a physical force around the rim, while Olah has become a great passing big man in the Princeton Offense.

Though four years younger, Robinson III beats out Swopshire. Robinson is a future NBA player, while Swop has been a nice addition to NU via Louisville, but isn't the physical freak that little "Big Dog" is.

A pair of freshmen match up at small forward, and though similar in playing styles, no one has shot the ball better from deep this season than Stauskas.

The shooting guard matchup is an injury plagued one. Hardaway Jr. is questionable for Thursday's game, and would be replaced by Cari LeVert if he must sit out. Marcotullio replaces an injured Hearn, and while he's an experienced long range bomber, he continues to battle lingering injuries of his own. Edge Michigan again here.

Finally the point guard matchup comes between two members of last year's All-Freshman Team. Burke has been the Big Ten's best player, but the sure handed Sobolewski hasn't been bad either. Still, Trey gets the win over Sobo, making it a clean sweep for the nation's second ranked squad.

Prediction: Michigan 70 Northwestern 59


Penn State vs. Wisconsin

Center: Jon Graham vs. Jared Berggren

Power Forward: Ross Travis vs. Mike Bruesewitz

Small Forward: Brandon Taylor vs. Ryan Evans

Shooting Guard: DJ Newbill vs. Ben Brust

Point Guard: Jermaine Marshall vs. Traevon Jackson

The Wisconsin starting front court is headed by three seniors, two of which are redshirt seniors, while Penn State uses two sophomores and a freshman up front. Wisconsin gets the overall edge here with this experience.

Berggren can beat teams on the inside and outside, Bruesewitz is that player that opposing teams love to hate and Evans mid-range game and rebounding ability for his size make him a tough guy to defend. Graham hasn't made the leap I anticipated following last season, Travis is turning into a great rebounder and Taylor has been a nice addition to the starting five. Still, Wisconsin has a certain edge up front.

At the guard positions however, I give Penn State the nod.

Newbill has been consistent in all areas of the game after transferring in from Southern Miss, while Marshall has taken on some of the scoring load missed with Tim Frazier's absence. Brust has adjusted well to his new starting role and is a great rebounder for his size, while Jackson won the starting point guard job from George Marshall, though neither has been impressive.

Prediction: Wisconsin 65 Penn State 54