Big Ten Weekend Look Ahead: 12.11.15 Edition

Posted by Alex Moscoso on December 11th, 2015

The college football championships are now in the books, which means basketball has center stage for a while. There are just under three weeks left in the non-conference portion of the schedule, so teams are still looking to notch a few resume-enhancing wins before conference play begins at the end of the month. Luckily for Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Nebraska this weekend, they will have those opportunities against top 100 teams this weekend. Here is your weekend preview of those four games.

Mark Loving (left) leads a very mediocre Buckeyes unit into Stoors on Saturday.

Mark Loving (left) leads a mediocre Buckeyes unit into Storrs on Saturday.

  • Ohio State at Connecticut (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, CBS). The Huskies are coming off a tough loss at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, possibly because their coach, Kevin Ollie, received an ill-timed technical in the latter stages of the game. They’ll get another shot against a Big Ten team when the Buckeyes visit Gampel Pavilion on Saturday afternoon. Thad Matta’s young squad has looked its age as the Buckeyes commit a turnover in one out of every five possessions so far this season. If Ohio State can’t protect the ball against a very good Connecticut defense, they’ll slip below .500 with a record of 4-5, something that hasn’t happened this late in the season during the Matta era.
  • Marquette at Wisconsin (Saturday, 1:30 PM ET, ESPN2). If you haven’t yet heard, this version of Wisconsin isn’t your typical Bo Ryan team. Rather, this team, to the consternation of its head coach, shies away from three-pointers in favor of mid-range jumpers. Therefore, this rivalry game may rely on which player wins the battle in the paint between the Badgers’ Nigel Hayes and the Golden Eagles’ Henry Ellenson. While the freshman is bigger and more naturally gifted, the upperclassman knows how to take over a game — Hayes scored 32 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a recent loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Look for whoever wins this individual battle to set the tone for the rest of his team.

  • Florida at Michigan State (Saturday, 6:00 PM ET, ESPN2). Tom Izzo has never been afraid of putting together a competitive non-conference schedule, and this season is no different as top-ranked Michigan State already has three Top 25 wins and will play another marquee name when the Gators visit the Breslin Center. While we don’t really know what to make of this Florida team at this point in the season — they have no good wins but also no bad losses — the Spartans will be challenged by an elite playmaker like Dorian Finney-Smith. If Sparty can beat the Gators on Saturday evening, Izzo’s team will likely waltz into the Big Ten season with an overall record of 13-0 and still ranked #1 in the national polls.
  • Rhode Island at Nebraska (Sunday, 2:00 PM ET, ESPN3). If there are ever such things as must-win games in December, Nebraska’s upcoming matchup against Rhode Island would certainly qualify. The Cornhuskers are 6-4 with no good wins but no bad losses. Tim Miles‘ team has had flashes of looking like an NCAA Tournament squad — it came close to upsetting ranked teams Cincinnati and Miami — thanks to an improved offense driven by the surprising play of Andrew White (17.5 PPG and 5.4 RPG). While a win against Rhode Island in Lincoln wouldn’t pop off the resume, it is Nebraksa’s lone remaining non-conference chance to get a victory over a top 50 team.
Alex Moscoso (170 Posts)

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