After another wild day in Indianapolis at the Big Ten tournament, the semifinals are finally set as one of the best conferences in college basketball is close to crowning its tournament champion.
Friday featured a number of wild games, starting with the Michigan Wolverines, as they barely squeaked by Illinois 64-63 after a missed shot from Tracy Abrams. Meanwhile, the Ohio State Buckeyes won another close game, beating the Nebraska Cornhuskers 71-67. The Wisconsin Badgers and Michigan State Spartans didn't have as much trouble, as they cruised past their opponents without much trouble.
Now, the semifinals are set, so let's take a look at the schedule for Day 3 of the Big Ten tournament, followed by viewing information and predictions for each game.
Day 3 Schedule
|1:40 p.m.||No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 5 Ohio State||CBS|
|4:10 p.m.||No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 3 Michigan State||CBS|
Saturday, March 15
Live Stream Info
Both games can be seen online courtesy of CBSSports.com.
Aaron Craft Will Shut Down Nik Stauskas
Michigan's Nik Stauskas has scored less than 10 points in just four games, with the Wolverines going 2-2 in those matchups. Given how deadly the sophomore guard is, Ohio State needs Aaron Craft to shut him down, and he should be able to do just that.
Craft is widely regarded as one of the best defensive players in college basketball, winning the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 and 2014. According to Sports-Reference.com, his defensive rating of 89.0 and 3.0 defensive win shares rank second and first in the Big Ten, respectively, while he also leads the conference with 2.6 steals per game.
How many points will Nik Stauskas score on Saturday?
As a team, the Buckeyes have one of the best defenses in the country. This season, they're allowing just 59.2 points per game and holding opponents to 28.4 percent from behind the arc, ranking ninth and third in the country in those categories, and Craft is a huge reason for that.
Stauskas dropped 15 points against the Buckeyes in their meeting earlier this year, but that was a different story last year, when he scored zero and 11 in the two meetings on a combined 4-of-11 shooting. Ohio State's perimeter defense will likely give Stauskas fits, as he attempts 5.3 three-pointers per game.
One of the best shooters in the country will be going against one of the best defenders in a historic rivalry, but Craft should have the upper hand in front of a neutral crowd.
Gary Harris Will Go Off Against Wisconsin
While one shooter will get shut down in the other game, Michigan State's Gary Harris has an opportunity to put his team into the finals with a big performance against the Badgers.
While he hasn't been as efficient as he was in his freshman season, Harris is still playing very well in his sophomore year. He's currently averaging 17.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, shooting 41.9 percent and 35.4 percent from behind the arc. If anything, Harris has been a consistent scorer, putting up at least 10 points in all but two games, scoring 20 or more in 10.
Harris will also be playing in front of plenty of fans from his old high school, as he comes from Fishers, Ind. According to the Big Ten men's hoops Twitter account, Harris had this to say about playing in Indianapolis:
Gary Harris - I've had good memories in this gym and it's always good to come home. I love coming home. pic.twitter.com/NETzyimbVh— Big Ten Men's Hoops (@B1GMBBall) March 15, 2014
The Badgers have some solid defenders down low, but their backcourt defense is a bit more questionable. According to Sports-Reference.com, Ben Brust, Traevon Jackson and Josh Gasser all have defensive rating of at least 104.3, which means that Harris should have some favorable matchups.
In three career meetings against the Badgers, Harris has scored a total of just 23 points, but there's a chance that he doubles that number on Saturday, as he will be a go-to player for the Spartans on offense.