Big Ten Weekend Look Ahead: 11.20.15 Edition

Posted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on November 20th, 2015

By the second weekend of the season, most power conference teams have moved past playing cupcakes from one-bid leagues — although some of those cupcakes ultimately got the last laugh — and are now moving up in competition. Stiffer tests begin in earnest for two Big Ten squads tonight, as Wisconsin and Michigan take part in marquee match-ups against Big East opponents and wo more B1G teams face challenging mid-majors on Saturday. Here are the four games to watch involving Big Ten teams this weekend.

Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig scored a combined 29 points in last year's thriller against Georgetown (Daivd Banks-USA Today Sports).

Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig scored a combined 29 points in last year’s thriller against Georgetown (Photo: David Banks, USA Today Sports).

  1. Georgetown vs. Wisconsin (Friday, 5:00 PM ET, ESPN). Oddly enough, this game isn’t part of the slate of Gavitt Tipoff Games but instead a part of the 2K Classic event taking place in Madison Square Garden over the weekend. It’s also a rematch of a classic from last season, when the Hoyas — behind a 29-point effort from D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera — nearly upset the second-ranked Badgers in the Battle 4 Atlantis. These teams look to be more evenly matched this year, with Smith-Rivera perhaps looking to finish what he started a year ago in the Bahamas. Both squads have already suffered unexpected home losses to teams they have no business losing to (Wisconsin to Western Illinois; Georgetown to Radford), so the loser here will find itself in an early hole in its pursuit of a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
  2. Xavier at Michigan (Friday, 9:00 PM ET, BTN).  The Wolverines will host the Musketeers tonight in the final game of the Gavitt Tipoff Games. Caris Levert‘s team has looked resurgent in its first two outings, beating its two opponents by a combined 54 points in an effort to erase memories of an injury-plagued and disappointing 2014-15 season. Michigan will face its first real test when Trevon Bluiett’s Musketeers invade the Crisler Center. It’ll be a mismatch of styles — the Wolverines are a quintessential jump-shooting team while Xavier thrives off attacks of the rim and getting to the free throw line —  so whichever team sets the tone early will earn a distinct advantage.
  3. Old Dominion vs. Purdue (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN3). Make no bones about it — the Boilermakers have looked impressive in their first three games, winning by an average margin of 34 points per contest. However, Matt Painter‘s team will finally face some formidable competition when Purdue plays the Monarchs at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday. Old Dominion was selected to finish second in Conference USA in the preseason and boasts an exceptional guard in Trey Freeman (16.9 PPG, 3.6 APG, and 4.3 RPG). If the Boilers want to prove they’re an elite team, a comfortable win against a talented mid-major would be suggested, given their distinct talent and size advantage (no Old Dominion player is taller than 6’8″). If they struggle, it could be a sign that Purdue has some work to do before it should be mentioned in the same breath as Big Ten contenders Maryland and Michigan State.
  4. Chattanooga at Illinois (Saturday, 8:30 PM ET, BTN). Poor John Groce. All of his team’s preseason misfortunes have already been discussed, but the bad breaks at Illinois just won’t stop coming. After losing to an underrated North Florida team in their opener, the Illini had a chance to wipe that loss away with an impressive road victory at Providence — only to come up short in three different buzzer-beating attempts (including a put-back dunk!). Now Illinois has to face a talented Chattanooga team that already has a win over Georgia on its resume. The Illini were able to contain All-American Kris Dunn on Wednesday night, but they’ll have to keep their eyes on three different players — Casey Jones, Greg Pryor, and Jonathan Burroughs-Cook — against the Mocs, as every member of that trio has already scored over 20 points in a game this year. If the Illini falter this weekend, they’ll stand at 1-3 before Thanksgiving even arrives (queue the Peanuts piano music).
Alex Moscoso (170 Posts)

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