Michigan State vs Wisconsin
In a Christmas day matchup between two of the country’s best teams, the No. 12 Michigan State Spartans will host the No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers in a Big Ten conference battle.
Previously ranked at No. 4 in the country, the Spartans dropped to No. 12 following an upset loss to Northwestern in their conference opener on Sunday.
The 79-65 loss was Michigan State’s first defeat for the season, which resulted in their record dropping to 6-1.
Poor shooting was the Spartans downfall against Northwestern shooting a measly 38.8% from the field, 25.8% from three and an embarrassing 50% from the free throw line.
One bad performance is no reason to discount Michigan State’s six previous wins, however the Spartans will need to improve drastically when coming up against the No. 9 ranked Badgers.
Wisconsin evely share the load evenly on offense with four Badgers averaging double digit points for the season.
However it is their defense that the Badgers pride themselves on, allowing only 58.1 opponent points per game as well as 5.6 blocks and 6.0 steals.
Checking in at #12 in this week’s AP Poll 🏀 pic.twitter.com/sHY2oh7f5E
— Michigan State Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) December 21, 2020
In what is set to be a highly competitive Christmas day battle between two of the best teams in the country, Michigan State should bounce back from their first loss of the year with a win at home to get their debut Big Ten victory for the season.
College basketball pick – Michigan State by 9.
Nebraska vs Michigan
After climbing six spots in the AP top 25 rankings, the No. 19 Michigan Wolverines will travel to Nebraska to face the Cornhuskers on Christmas day.
The Wolverines are 6-0 to start the college basketball season winning games by an average of 15 points so far this season, although they are yet to face a ranked opponent.
Hunter Dickinson has been the Wolverines star player to start 2020, scoring a team high 15.7 points at 69.1% from the field, while also bringing in a team high 7.3 rebounds.
Yet to play a game outside of Michigan, Friday’s game will be the Wolverines first away game for the season.
For the Cornhuskers, Friday’s matchup will be their third game against a ranked opponent in their past four. Nebraska lost to No. 13 Creighton earlier this month and No. 9 Wisconsin in their most recent outing.
Given that the game is in Nebraska and the Wolverines haven’t travelled this season, this game will likely be closer than most people think.
For ✌️ straight week …
Hunter Dickinson is the B1G Freshman of the Week!
For week ⤵️
✔️ 19.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 3.6 bpg
✔️ shot 68.0% from field
✔️ started first career game
✔️ scored first 20+ point game
✔️ helps U-M stay unbeaten
— Michigan Men’s Basketball (@umichbball) December 14, 2020
However, Michigan are going to be too strong for the Cornhuskers in their Big Ten battle on Christmas day, allowing Dickinson and Co. to get the Wolverines seventh straight win for the season.
College basketball pick – Michigan by 14.
Minnesota vs Iowa
The Minnesota Golden Gophers will host the No. 4 ranked Iowa Hawkeyes in a Big Ten conference battle.
The Hawkeyes slipped from No. 3 to No. 4 in the AP rankings following their 99-88 loss to No. 1 ranked Gonzaga last week.
Widely regarded as the nation’s best team, there is no shame in Iowa’s loss to Gonzaga, especially for senior duo Luka Garza (30 points, 10 rebounds) and Joe Wieskamp (20 points, nine assists).
However, the Hawkeys will need to improve their shooting if they want to return to winning form. Shooting 37.4% from three point range for the season, Iowa only managed 4-for-22 (18.2%) against Gonzaga, their worst effort since going 3-for-20 against Wisconsin last January.
The Golden Gophers are 7-1 to start the college basketball season, with their one loss coming against Illinois in their Big Ten conference opener.
Junior guard Marcus Carr has had a great start to the 2020 season averaging a team high 23.9 points per game at 46.5% shooting to go along with a team high 6.0 assists.
Friday’s matchup will be Minnesota’s first of seven consecutive matches against top 25 ranked teams, allowing the Golden Gophers to test themselves against the best teams in the country.
Currently 0-1 against ranked teams, Minnesota’s 7-1 record is certain to be less flattering by mid January.
“BuT LuKa GaRzA hAsN’t PlAyEd AnYbOdy.”
— Iowa Basketball (@IowaHoops) December 19, 2020
Luka Garza and the Hawkeyes are one of toughest matchups in the country and will likely hand the Golden Gophers another big loss against a ranked opponent on Friday. Potentially the first of many for this tough stretch ahead for Minnesota.
College basketball pick – Iowa by 28.
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