#1 Michigan State vs #8 Iowa
Michigan State has lost its last two games, and Iowa just came from behind to beat Illinois in the first round of the B1G Tournament. Naturally, Iowa is the hotter team, and that should come into play, right? Not a chance!
These teams met once this year, in East Lansing, and MSU beat the Hawkeyes worse than they beat the Blue Devils. The Central Connecticut State Blue Devils, that is. Sparty had 15 guys, their entire roster, see at least two minutes of action in a game in which they beat Iowa by 34.
Draymond Green had his way with the black and gold, scoring 22 points and cruising to 9 rebounds in 29 minutes on the court. I just can’t see this game having any kind of surprising ending. Sparty won’t win by 34 again, but they will win by 15+ and do so with ease. They simply have too much fire power in the frontcourt for Iowa to handle. The Hawkeyes won a hard-fought battle against Illinois, but their journey in this tournament ends at approximately 2pm on Friday.
Prediction: MSU 80 – Iowa 64
Game 2 – 2:00pm
#4 Wisconsin vs #5 Indiana
This is a tough one. There first game was a classic Big Ten matchup. Of course, that’s a nice way of saying that it was a low scoring, defensive battle in which neither team shot the ball over very well. Indiana seemed shell-shocked by Wisconsin’s pace of play, or lackthereof, and never really got into much of a rhythm. On top of that, Cody Zeller was all but eliminated from the game by the defensive play of Jared Berggren (5 blocks). Zeller was held to just 7 points, which tied for his second lowest output of the year.
With all that said, the Hoosiers are playing good basketball right now, and I think that their ability to use Zeller better than they did in the first game will make the difference. I expect Indiana to rush the pace in this game a bit more than they did in the first matchup, but to also take better care of the ball and capitalize on their possessions. Wisconsin, on the other hand, won’t be rushing the ball up the court. Oh no, they’ll milk the clock on just about every trip up the court.
Prediction: Wisconsin 62 – Indiana 68
#2 M*chigan vs #10 Minnesota
Minnesota is undoubtedly riding high after a thrilling overtime victory against Northwestern, in which they very well could have kept the Wildcats streak of never making the NCAA Tournament alive. However, that same thrilling victory could very well be their downfall against the Wolverines.
M*chigan will live and die by the 3 pointer, as always, but a solid game from freshman Trey Burke, and controlling Ralph Sampson III underneath will also be key. RSIII grabbed his season high in rebounds the only time these teams met this year, with 10. Sure, it’s tough to pretend that the first game came down to anything other than Trey Burke’s herculean effort (27 points), but I think that a more balanced attack from the Wolverines will still get the job done.
Prediction: M*chigan 66 - Minnesota 61
Game 4 – 9:00pm
#3 OSU vs #6 Purdue
I expect just a hint more defense in this game than in the 87-84 track meet that took place between these teams in Columbus on February 7. Both teams shot lights-out in that game and relied on huge performances from William Buford and DJ Byrd, who scored 29 and 24 points for the Buckeyes and Boilermakers, respectively.
What I like about the rematch, similar to the game in which Illinois beat Ohio State, is that if you remove the outlier performances, OSU should maintain the advantage over Purdue. By that I mean that Buford certainly had a fantastic game, but he did so while shooting 58% (very good, but not amazing) from the field and making just 3 deep balls. Byrd, on the other side, outscored his previous career best by 6 points and made 7 shots from behind the arc.
Long story short, I like OSU to outrun and, more importantly, outdefend Purdue in their matchup tomorrow night.
Prediction: OSU 78 - Purdue 68
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