A Weekly Glance at B1G Basketball (12/09 – 12/15)

On December 11, 2012 by Zach Clark

LaQuinton Ross In Action Against Rhode Island Earlier This Year

 

LEADERS DIVISION

 

Savannah State (5-4) vs. #7 Ohio State (6-1)

 

2011 Records: Savannah State (21-12) and Ohio State (31-8)

When: Wednesday, December 12th @ 7:00 PM Eastern

Channel: Big Ten Network

My Prediction: Savannah State 52 – Ohio State 76

 

In each of the last two games, sophomore forward LaQuinton Ross has led the Buckeyes in scoring, and I expect him to continue to impress against the lowly Savannah State Tigers.  Ross’s 19.0 PPG over the past 2 games has really provided a spark for Ohio State and helped them not play down to their opponent’s level.  Thus far, the Tigers have had a disappointing year, but 3 of their 4 losses have come by 10 points or less.  Savannah State’s only blowout loss came against the #5 Florida Gators, who have looked like a legitimate title contender so far.  In fact, the Tigers held the Gators to only 58 points, 15 points less than their average points per game.  Regardless of Savannah State’s narrow losses and somewhat impressive performance against Florida, the Bucks should take care of business and win by 20+.

 

Delaware State (5-5) vs. Penn State (5-4)

 

2011 Records: Delaware State (15-14) and Penn State (12-20)

When: Saturday, December 15th @ 2:00 PM Eastern

Channel: Not Televised

My Prediction: Delaware State 61 – Penn State 65

 

It was a very, very difficult decision, but I am picking the B1G’s Penn State Nittany Lions over the MEAC’s Delaware State Hornets this Saturday.  Despite having a worse record, the Hornets are better than the Nittany Lions in nearly every major statistical category.  However, to me, the key to predicting this game lies with each team’s home and away/neutral site records.  Delaware State is 1-5 in away/neutral site games, and their sole win came against the in-state Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens (notice fightin’ without the “g”).  Penn State, on the other hand, have not yet played a true “away game,” and post a 4-1 record at home.  Penn State’s extensive experience at home this year, combined with the Hornets’ horrid road/neutral site record, will pave the way to a hard-fought Nittany Lion victory.

 

Purdue (4-5) vs. #22 Notre Dame (8-1)

 

2011 Records: Purdue (22-13) and Notre Dame (22-12)

When: Saturday, December 15th @ 4:30 PM Eastern

Channel: ESPN2/WatchESPN

My Prediction: Purdue 65 – Notre Dame 75

 

I’m not entirely sure what the consensus expectation was for the Boilermakers this year, but I, for one, am severely disappointed.  After making the NCAA tournament each of the past six years, I severely doubt coach Matt Painter’s squad will make the cut this season.  Purdue suffered a horrific loss to Eastern Michigan (one of my failed predictions) last week, scoring only 44 points in the contest, committing 18 turnovers, and shooting under 30% from the field.  Even if the Boilermakers drastically improve those numbers, I believe it will not be enough to take down the #22 Fighting Irish.  I expect the game to be somewhat close throughout due to it being labeled as the “Boston Scientific Close the Gap Crossroads Classic at Indianapolis”, but Notre Dame should win in the end.

 

#1 Indiana (9-0) vs. Butler (7-2)

 

2011 Records: Indiana (27-9) and Butler (22-15)

When: Saturday, December 15th @ 2:00 PM Eastern

Channel: CBS

My Prediction: Indiana 85 – Butler 74

 

Posting a ridiculously impressive 1st in the nation points per game ranking (89.1 PPG), I expect the Hoosiers to control the game throughout and comfortably defeat the Butler Bulldogs.  Although I do see Butler coming out and shooting very well at home, I don’t see it being enough to take down big, bad #1, no matter how bad they want it.  If I’m wrong and Butler is in this game, it will be fun to see the coaching battle between Tom Crean and Brad Stevens.  I, along with most of the college basketball world, consider Crean and Stevens two of the more elite coaches in the country.  Despite my intense B1G fanhood, I have many close friends who currently attend Indiana, and let me just say that I would LOVE to see them fall.  To my dismay, I just don’t see it happening this week.

 

Green Bay (3-5) vs. Wisconsin (6-4)

 

2011 Records: Green Bay (15-15) and Wisconsin (26-10)

When: Wednesday, December 12th @ 9:00 PM Eastern

Channel: Big Ten Network

My Prediction: Green Bay 67 – Wisconsin 77

 

It’s always fun when two teams not in the same conference have played the same opponent, because then one can just compare who lost by less and see who’ll win, right?  I may or may have not applied that logic here, seeing both the Green Bay Phoenix and the Wisconsin Badgers played the Virginia Cavaliers and lost by 16 and 6, respectively.  In all seriousness, this may be a closer matchup than appearing on paper, as Wisconsin has had a disappointing year so far.  To be fair to the Badgers, they, for the most part, lost the games they should have lost and won the games they should have won.  Their losses vs. Virginia and at Marquette were certainly questionable, though.  Wisconsin is much higher-ranked in points per game, rebounds per game, assists per game, and field goal percentage, so naturally they should win, right?  We’ll find out this week on hump day night.

 

Norfolk State (6-5) vs. #10 Illinois (10-0)

 

2011 Records: Norfolk State (26-10) and Illinois (17-15)

When: Tuesday, December 11th @ 8:00 PM Eastern

Channel: ESPN3

My Prediction: Norfolk State 65 – Illinois 76

 

Now I’m not sayin’ it’ll happen (see my prediction), but take a look at Vegas’ Norfolk State money line tonight, as the Illini are bound to screw up sooner or later.  Being a Buckeye fan living in Champaign, IL, it seems much too good to be true, as Illini coach John Groce has headed a seemingly impossible turnaround for the Illini.  Just to signify how much the Illini faithful are eating up this season so far, I will relay a conversation a friend and I had late Saturday night/early Sunday morning:

 

Stu (knowing that I am a devout Buckeye fan): “Zach, who’s the better coach: John Groce or Thad Matta?”

Me (being in a much more sober state of mind and not wanting to ruffle any feathers): “Jury’s still out on Groce, Stu.  We’ll see how he does in the coming years.”

 

Now I’m no Thad Matta unwavering supporter or diehard by any means, as I think he is nowhere near an elite bench tactician or in-game adjustment coach, but I find that question a tad ridiculous.  Let’s give it a little more than 10 games before we start comparing a coach who just landed his first non-mid major head coaching gig to a coach who’s made 2 final fours and a national championship game.  If the Illini underperform like they did against Hawaii, Gardner Webb, and Western Carolina, Norfolk State just might snag themselves a victory in Champaign.

 

 

LEGENDS DIVISION

 

Nebraska (6-2) vs. Oregon (8-1)

 

2011 Records: Nebraska (12-18) and Oregon (24-10)

When: Saturday, December 15th @ 4:30 PM Eastern

Channel: FSN/ROOT

My Prediction: Nebraska 53 – Oregon 72

 

Despite sharing very comparable records, the Oregon Ducks vastly, and I mean vastly outrank the Cornhuskers in the major statistical categories.  In fact, the Ducks average 17.4 more points per game, 6.0 more rebounds per game, and 4.2% better of a field goal percentage than Nebraska.  I fully expect this game to be a blowout, as last week’s Nebraska loss to Creighton showed they cannot hang anywhere near somewhat elite teams.  Also, Oregon has been on a tear lately, scoring at least 80 points in their past three games.

 

Iowa (8-2) vs. Northern Iowa (6-3)

 

2011 Records: Iowa (18-17) and Northern Iowa (20-14)

When: Saturday, December 15th @ 2:30 PM Eastern

Channel: Big Ten Network

My Prediction: Iowa 82 – Northern Iowa 70

 

Fran’s Not Satisfied Quite Yet

Back to back in-state rivalry games for the Hawkeyes, as Iowa faced the Iowa State Cyclones a week ago and now take on Northern Iowa on Saturday afternoon.  After incorrectly picking Iowa to lose against the Cyclones, I feel as if I can’t pick against them again this week, so I’m going to have to go with Fran McCaffery’s Hawkeyes.  The Northern Iowa Panthers may have faced stiffer competition than Iowa thus far (games vs. Louisville and Memphis), but Iowa ranks drastically better in points per game, rebounds per game, and assists per game.  I haven’t yet seen more than clips of Iowa in action this year, and I’d really like to see if their impressive 8-2 record can speak for the quality of their team.  I’m hopeful Iowa can pull off back to back in-state victories, and I predict a victory of at least a 10-point margin for Iowa.

 

West Virginia (4-3) vs. #3 Michigan (9-0)

 

2011 Records: West Virginia (19-14) and Michigan (21-10)

When: Saturday, December 15th @ 8:00 PM Eastern

Channel: ESPN/WatchESPN

My Prediction: West Virginia 65 – Michigan 82

 

In a typical year, this game would be expected to be super competitive and a battle throughout.  However, West Virginia has fallen off quite a bit, as they were demolished by Gonzaga, lost to both Davidson and Oklahoma, and narrowly defeated Virginia Tech.  The Wolverines are undefeated and have not played any elite teams yet, but they have taken care of business against several above-average opponents.  At the Crisler Center, I expect Michigan to dominate.  They are shooting at an unbelievable 51.5 percentage and will be fired up for this game in primetime on ESPN.  If not too large of a spread, look for Michigan to cover.

 

Tuskegee vs. #19 Michigan State (8-2)

 

2011 Records: Tuskegee (16-10) and Michigan State (29-8)

When: Saturday, December 15th @ 9:00 PM Eastern

Channel: ESPNU

My Prediction: Tuskegee 47 – Michigan State 92

 

Yet to preview Michigan State against a legitimate opponent, there is really not too much to say here other than this: I honestly was unable to find Tuskegee’s current 2012-2013 record on the internet.  To me, that indicates a horribly run program that destined for a loss on the road.  All joking aside, the Spartans should roll against this mysterious Tuskegee squad.

 

North Dakota State (8-2) vs. #14 Minnesota (10-1)

 

2011 Records: North Dakota State (17-14) and Minnesota (23-15)

When: Tuesday, December 11th @ 9:00 PM Eastern

Channel: Big Ten Network

My Prediction: North Dakota State 69 – Minnesota 87

 

Despite North Dakota State’s notable record so far, I believe the Gophers have nothing to fear late tonight.  Indiana, the one respectable team the North Dakota State Bison played so far, blew out the Bison by 25+ points.  Minnesota, despite losing rather badly to Duke, have impressed since and have rallied off 6 straight wins heading into this game.  Due to both teams’ impressive field goal percentages, I expect a somewhat high-scoring game, but Minnesota’s rebounding and assists should ensure victory.

 

Northwestern Wildcats (7-3): 

No games scheduled for Sunday, December 9th through Saturday, December 15th

 

 

MY PREDICTION SUCCESS (OR FAILURE) FROM PAST WEEKS:

 

Week of 12/02 – 12/08: 8-4

 

 

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