Jan. 22, 2011; Champaign, IL, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard/forward Jereme Richmond (22) being defended by Ohio State Buckeyes guard/forward David Lighty (23) in the second half at Assembly Hall. Ohio State defeated Illinois 73-68. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten Basketball What to Watch: Weekend of January 4th

This weekend, the Big Ten has five conference games scheduled. Here are my six things to look at over this week in the Big Ten.

Jan 10, 2012; Champaign, IL, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Brandon Paul (3) lays the ball in against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the first half at Assembly Hall. Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

1) Five of the Big Ten teams in play this weekend are ranked. These teams are the #2 Michigan Wolverines, the #9 Ohio State Buckeyes, the #9 Minnesota Golden Gophers, the #11 Illinois Fighting Illini, and #18 Michigan State Spartans.

2) The #2 Michigan Wolverines are the only undefeated Big Ten team in action this weekend. They are coming off a great win over Northwestern where they scored on their first 8 possessions of the game.

3) The Big Ten Game of the Weekend will be Saturday’s match-up between the #8 Ohio State Buckeyes and the #11 Illinois Fighting Illini. The Buckeyes are 1-0 in conference while the Illini are 0-1.

In their last meeting at Assembly Hall, the Illini knocked off then #5 Ohio State, 79-74.

4) The Big Ten Game of the Weekend will feature the conference’s top two scorers. Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State) and Brandon Paul (Illinois) will both play as #11 Illinois will play #8 Ohio State at Assembly Hall. Thomas leads the Big Ten with 19.9 points per game and Paul is second with 18.5 points per game.

5) The Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Wisconsin Badgers come into this weekend as two of the best defensive teams in the Big Ten. The Badgers allow the fewest points per game with opponents only averaging 55.9 points and Minnesota leads the Big Ten in blocks (6.6 per game) and steals (10.1 per game).

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @RickyWidmer.

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