#1 Michigan State vs #4 Wisconsin
Sparty barely broke a sweat in the second half of their game against Iowa, so they should certainly be well rested. Wisconsin, on the other hand, tied their second highest point total of the year. MSU has beaten Bo Ryan’s team in both meetings this season, and although the Badgers are playing well right now, I expect this to be lucky #3.
More accurately, I expect this to be #23 all day long. Draymond Green will finish this game with at least 20 points and 10 boards, and will continuously keep Wisconsin at an arm’s length with his aggressive play underneath and consistent mid-range shot. Wisconsin will do their best to bring this game’s pace to a screeching halt, most likely not wanting to test their run and gun game plan for a second consecutive game. Even with a slowed pace for Wisconsin’s offense, MSU will run the ball and outhustle the Badgers to the glass and to loose balls, and that should be the difference.
This game will be within a touchdown, but in the end, the two best teams in the Big Ten will meet in the Championship Game…sorry about the spoiler…
Prediction: MSU 71 – Wisconsin 66
Game 2 – 4:10pm
#2 M*chigan vs #3 Ohio State
UM struggled against a Minnesota team that has been less than impressive this season. However, in the Big Ten, if you can walk away with a win, then who cares how pretty it was? The Golden Gophers took M*chigan to overtime before allowing the Wolverines to advance in the tourney. I mentioned on Thursday that you could look at the UM/Minnesota game from earlier in the year and pick out a few things that may have effected the outcome, but the bottom line was that Trey Burke was untouchable, scoring 27 points. Well, the matchup on Friday ended up being a sequel, as the freshman phenom now averages 14.2 points against teams not named Minnesota and a whopping 28.5 per game against the Gophers… I’ll let you mathletes figure out how many he scored — hint: X = (28.5*2)-27.
Ohio State got off to a great start against Purdue and kept a steady, solid offensive pace throughout the game. Although this strategy played into what Purdue likes to do, the Buckeyes shot the ball well, and were able to eliminate the streaky Boilermakers without too much of a scare. Ok, to be fair, the majority of the game was a scare, but then OSU went on a tear in the second half and opened the game up to the point where everything was clicking.
Anytime OSU and M*chigan meet, anything can happen, but I like OSU’s talent and desire for revenge to overpower the hopefully tired Wolverines. In Ann Arbor, M*chigan was able to slow down the action and force OSU into a very poor shooting performance. Today, however, I think the Buckeyes will better utilize Sullinger and the in-and-out game to get Buford and Thomas some good looks from outside. This game will not be lopsided like the matchup in Columbus, and could very well be decided in the last two minutes or so.
Prediction: M*chigan 62 – OSU 68