Big Ten Basketball: Predicting This Weekend's Five League Contests

Ryan CuriFeatured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2014

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery argues a call during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Wisconsin Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in Madison, Wis. McCaffery was charged with 2 technical fouls and was ejected from the game. Wisconsin won 75-71. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
Andy Manis/Associated Press

This weekend, 10 of the the 12 teams in the Big Ten will take the court. Six teams will showcase their talents on Saturday, while four play on Sunday, leaving just bottom feeders Illinois and Penn State off for the weekend. Here is a look at each matchup, with a recap of the first time these teams matched up earlier in league play, capped with a prediction on the final score. 


Iowa 75 Wisconsin 71

Back in January, the then undefeated Badgers knocked off the Hawkeyes by a score of 75-71. Iowa led for much of the game, before Fran McCaffery's second-half ejection led to a Wisconsin spurt. These two squads currently sit in third and fourth place in the Big Ten standings, which would give them byes on the Thursday of the Big Ten Tournament next month if this holds up.

Iowa has only played once since February 8, after last week's matchup at Indiana was postponed. The Hawkeyes go 11 players deep and are led by Roy Devyn Marble and Aaron White. Each Badger starter is a capable three-point shooter and Bo Ryan has gotten great production out of freshman Nigel Hayes off the bench. Whichever team dictates the pace of the game should come out victorious.


Ohio State 58 Minnesota 52

Hannah Foslien/Associated Press

On January 16, the Golden Gophers defeated the Buckeyes 63-53 in Minneapolis. After an unbeaten non-conference season, the Buckeyes have been hot and cold in league play, currently boasting an 8-6 record. Richard Pitino's Gophers find themselves in the middle of the pack with a 6-8 league mark with NCAA tournament aspirations. Wednesday night's loss at home to Illinois certainly didn't help their case.

Andre Hollins appears to be recovered from a leg injury that kept him out of the middle of B1G play. He, Austin Hollins and Deandre Mathieu form a steady backcourt, whole former reserve Joey King's production has increased. Moving Sam Thompson back into the starting lineup for Shannon Scott appears to be the right move for Thad Matta's bunch. LaQuinton Ross is lucky to be playing on Saturday, after an altercation with Northwestern's Nikola Cerina led to each of their ejections.


Northwestern 60 Indiana 55

On January 18, Chris Collins notched a marquee road win, as the Wildcats defeated the Hoosiers 54-47. While fellow point guards Jershon Cobb and Yogi Ferrell struggled with their shots, big men Alex Olah and Noah Vonleh provided an entertaining battle in the paint. Drew Crawford was the star of the game, posting a double-double in his final trip to Bloomington.

Indiana will need some production from freshmen Stanford Robinson or Troy Williams, as Jeremy Hollowell and even Will Sheehey's production cannot be counted on. Tre Demps is the league's top reserve scorer, who wants the ball in his hands late in close contests. Sanjay Lumpkin is NU's glue guy, while Kale Abrahamson will need to knock down a triple or two to keep IU's defense honest.


Michigan 73 Michigan State 70

The Wolverines knocked off the Spartans last month in East Lansing, escaping with an 80-75 victory over their in-state rivals. MSU enters Sunday's matchup with a half game lead over Michigan atop the conference standings. The winner of this rematch should be assured at least a share of the conference crown, as league play ends on March 9.

Adreian Payne appears to be his old self, after knocking down four three-balls at Purdue. Gary Harris has also refound his perimeter shot, while Travis Trice has done a serviceable job in Keith Appling's absence. Nik Stauskas has a chance to be the league's Player of the Year, leading an underclassmen-heavy roster. Glenn Robinson III and Caris Levert have been nice complements to Stauskas' improved overall game, while freshmen Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin have improved as the season has worn on.


Nebraska 74 Purdue 66

Jan 12, 2014; West Lafayette, IN, USA; Purdue Boilermakers guard Ronnie Johnson (3) drives past Nebraska Cornhusker Tai Webster (0) in the second half at Mackey Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports
Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Miles' Cornhuskers are in unfamiliar territory, currently just on the outside of the NCAA Tournament's bubble. The Boilermakers defeated the Huskers 70-64 on January 12, though Nebraska has won its last four. They have also only lost at home once all season, that being a one-point defeat to Michigan. Purdue sits two games behind Nebraska in league play, with a 5-8 conference clip.

A.J. Hammons is a matchup nightmare for Nebraska, as Cornhusker center Walter Pitchford prefers to play along the perimeter. The Johnson brothers, Terone and Ronnie, have been on and off, while Sterling Carter and Kendall Stephens have shot the ball at a high mark recently. Terran Petteway could finish on the First Team All-Big Ten, while Shavon Shields is capable of dropping big numbers. Ray Gallegos recently moved to the Husker bench, in favor of David Rivers, giving the team more size on the inside.