Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 12/21/12
  This weekend begins to wrap up any big non-conference games for the Big Ten Conference. All teams look to win these games and enter the conference with momentum. The first game that should be mentioned is the Ohio State vs. Kansas game.  The 9th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes will play the 7th ranked Kansas Jayhawks at home this Saturday at 4 pm.  Both teams only have one loss this season.  Ohio State’s only loss comes from Duke and Kansas’s only loss was against Michigan State, their second game of the season.  Other than their two losses, neither team has played anyone else in the top 25 this season so it will be interesting to see how both teams handle the pressure of playing in a big game. This game will prepare Ohio State for the Big Ten conference play because most games in the conference will be very competitive. The Keys for Ohio State in this game is to score in the post despite playing against Jeff Withey, a great inside defender for the Jayhawks, and arguably one of the best big men in the nation.  They also need to play smart basketball because the Jayhawks are very good at forcing turnovers.  This is a rematch of last seasons final four game in New Orleans, however, a lot of the key players from last season are not playing anymore.  This should be an interesting game to watch and one of the better games of non-conference play. The next big game of the weekend is the Illinois vs. Missouri game.  The 10th ranked Illini will look to remain undefeated and defeat the 12th ranked Missouri Tigers.  Missouri’s only loss is to 5th ranked Louisville but they have not played any other challenging opponents this season.  This is a big game for both teams as they will look to continue to prove to the nation that they are elite teams this year. The key for  Illinois is to remain consistent and continue to play like they have all season.  Brandon Paul will need to continue to score and be as effective as he has been, averaging 18.8 points per game this season.  He has scored in double figures every game this year.  Missouri will need to hit their three-point shots so that they can stretch out the Illinois defense.  Remaining undefeated in college basketball is very difficult and the Illini will definitely be tested this Saturday. The final big game this Saturday in the Big Ten Conference is the Michigan State vs. Texas game.  The Spartans will be tested by Texas this Saturday.  This is their final test before entering conference play.  Both teams have struggled this season when it comes to ball security.  The Spartans average 15.6 turnovers a game, which is the worst in the Big Ten.  Texas is even worse averaging 17.4 a game.  Whoever turns the ball over less will have the definite advantage in the game.  Texas is coming off of a big win against North Carolina last Wednesday and will look to continue their success.  However, winning at the Breslin center is not an easy task.  

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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