After season-opening wins for Minnesota and Indiana on Monday over Michigan State and Iowa respectively, Big Ten basketball once again tips off Wednesday evening.
First, Nebraska travels to Columbus to take on the eighth-ranked Buckeyes, followed by a road game for Illinois at Purdue. Here's a breakdown of each team's starting lineups, accompanied by game predictions.
Nebraska vs. Ohio State
Center: Andre Almeida vs. Amir Williams
Power Forward: Brandon Ubel vs. Deshaun Thomas
Small Forward: Dylan Talley vs. Sam Thompson
Shooting Guard: Ray Gallegos vs. Lenzelle Smith Jr.
Point Guard: Benny Parker vs. Aaron Craft
Williams recently won the starting center job over Evan Ravenel for Ohio State, though hasn't performed at par with preseason expectations. That's why gigantic Almeida gets the edge here.
At power forward, each team's best player stands. Unfortunately for Nebraska, Deshaun Thomas gets the easy win here as he's able to beat opposing defenses in a multitude of ways.
Ultra athletic sophomore Sam Thompson matches up with Dylan Talley at the three position, one in which the more experienced Talley wins.
The backcourt is in the Buckeyes' favor as both Smith Jr. and Craft beat out Gallegos and Parker. Smith Jr. has made a huge jump from a season ago, while Craft is OSU's floor general and defensive stopper, though has struggled offensively.
Prediction: Ohio State 68 Nebraska 53
Illinois vs. Purdue
Center: Nnanna Egwu vs. AJ Hammons
Power Forward: Tyler Griffey vs. Jacob Lawson
Small Forward: Brandon Paul vs. DJ Byrd
Shooting Guard: DJ Richardson vs. Terone Johnson
Point Guard: Tracy Abrams vs. Ronnie Johnson
In the middle, freshman force AJ Hammons of Purdue gets the nod over Egwu, a sophomore from St. Ignatius in Chicago.
Senior Tyler Griffey gets the Illini on the board up against sophomore Lawson, who's sporting a mohawk this season.
The biggest matchup of the game comes at small forward as gunslinger DJ Byrd will need to keep Brandon Paul in check as Paul leads the Illini in points, rebounds, assists and steals. Paul's better all-around games get him the edge here.
At shooting guard, slasher Terone Johnson eeks out a win over long range bomber Richardson.
The point guard position breaks the tie as Abrams is coming off the best game of his career, while the younger brother of Terone, Ronnie, has had his freshman ups and downs.
Prediction: Illinois 69 Purdue 66
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