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Big Ten Basketball Weekend Primer: Vol. 5

(Each weekend we’ll give you the information on all the games (dates, times, TV, etc), give you a look at the most important games and potential upsets to watch here on our B1G Weekend Primer)

We’ve entered the fifth weekend of basketball for Big Ten teams, and boy are we in for perhaps the best weekend of the non-conference season.

There are big matchups and nearly every ranked team is in action. It’s fitting because most conference teams are about to take a break for finals or just coming off of finals break themselves.

With only a few weeks to go before Big Ten play begins in earnest, finding ways to win big games this weekend is vital for schools like Michigan, Illinois and Nebraska.

Let’s get on to the games and what to be watching for this weekend.

Weekend of Dec. 12 Games:

Friday, Dec. 12
No. 14 Iowa State at Iowa, 8 p.m. ……………………………..BTN
Saturday, Dec. 13
USC Upstate at No. 19 Maryland, 11 a.m……………………BTN
Morehead State at No. 12 Ohio State, 1 p.m. ……………..BTN
Nicholls State at No. 5 Wisconsin, 3 p.m………………………BTN
Grand Canyon at Indiana, 5 p.m…………………………………BTN
Michigan at No. 3 Arizona, 5:15 p.m. ………………………… ESPN
Oregon vs. Illinois 7 p.m. ………………………….BTN
Cincinnati at Nebraska, 9 p.m…………………………………….BTN
Purdue at Vanderbilt, 9 p.m. ………………………….SEC Network
Sunday, Dec. 14
George Washington at Penn State, Noon…………………ESPN3
Mississippi Valley State at Northwestern, 6 p.m. ………….BTN
Oakland at Michigan State, 8 p.m………………… ESPNU
Manhattan vs. Rutgers Noon

 

Best TV Viewing: No. 14 Iowa State at Iowa (Friday, Dec. 12 at 8pm ET, BTN)

If you don’t know, tune in for what is perhaps the most intense rivalry game for any team in the Big Ten with a team outside of the Big Ten. Carver-Hawkeye Arena is sure to be rocking on Friday night, and not just because both teams like to get to the rim.

There are plenty of great players with the likes of forwards Aaron White (15.6ppg, 7.1rpg) and Jarrod Uthoff (11.3ppg, 6.0rpg) going for the Hawkeyes. However, Iowa State will be without the services of its best backcourt player Bryce Dejan-Jones, who has averaged 17.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, and is suspended for this game after an arrest for drug-related charges (that were later denied by a judge) and noise violations at his house.

ISU will still have Georges Niang, who happens to lead the team in scoring (18.0) and assists (4.3), while being 2nd in rebounding (6.6) per game.

Both teams are looking to continue some big time momentum, with the Hawkeyes winning six straight (including over then-No. 12 UNC) and the Cyclones winning three-straight (including over then-No. 18 Arkansas). It could come down to which backcourt shows up, because without BDJ, the Cyclones have on-court leadership issues and Iowa has battle inconsistent (at best) guard play all season long.

If the Hawkeyes want to be considered a serious candidate for the top of the Big Ten when conference play starts, getting a win in the rivalry game against the Cyclones will go a long way.

 

Lock of the Weekend: Wisconsin over Nicholls State (Sat., Dec 13, 3p.m. ET, BTN)

Sam+Dekker+Illinois+v+Wisconsin+px0EnxSFLKIlIt appears Sam Dekker is getting more healthy, hence the monster alley oop and overall play on Wednesday in the dominating win over Milwaukee. More importantly, the Badgers seem to have found the offensive mojo after losing it from Dekker and Hayes in a loss to Duke and win over Marquette last week.

Nicholls State come in to this game just 1-4 on the season, and the only win is over Loyola (New Orleans). The Colonels have been blown out by all four of the teams they’ve lost to, including UCLA, Wake Forest and Michigan so far this season.

Additionally, they seem to be a wee bit offensively challenge. Look for the Badgers to add another blowout to the non-conference home slate on a Saturday where every fan’s mind will still be on the football program.

 

Sleeper Game: Grand Canyon at Indiana

Yes, Grand Canyon is just 4-5 and still in transition to the D1 level, but they are capable of playing some good basketball at times. Add in an Indiana team coming off a 20-point butt kicking from Louisville and you could have this game go one of two ways.

Either the Hoosiers rebound and pour it on against the Antelopes, or the Hoosiers have issues with confidence coming off the loss to the Cardinals. This has the potential to be a sleeper game because of what took place and the fragile psyche of a relatively young Indiana team.

I’m not calling an upset here, but I’m saying keep an eye out for this game.

 

Upset Alert: Oakland at Michigan State (Sun. Dec 14, 8p.m. ET, ESPNU)

While it would be tempting to say Michigan kicks it in gear or Purdue goes to Vandy and gets a win, something about those two teams makes me wonder about road upsets. So, I’m going to go with a little in-state matchup for the potential upset bid.

There’s little secret that the Spartans are struggling a bit early on this season, losing to Duke, Kansas and Notre Dame so far. The good news is they are taking care of business against the mid-major teams they’ve faced, unlike the rivals from Ann Arbor.

However, don’t sleep on the in-state matchup against the Grizzlies from Oakland University. This is a program that is built on winning basketball, and it won’t be afraid of playing in the Breslin Center. Additionally, this is a program that seems to be finding its stride after losing four straight to start the season.

Since that start, the Grizzlies program has won four of the last five games played including nice wins over solid mid-major programs like Toledo and Morehead State. On a weekend full of big matchups, this game is going to fly under the radar, but the Spartans can’t take Oakland lightly or they will be in major trouble.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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