Big Ten basketball is back in action for the first time on a Wednesday night this season and while there aren't a lot of games on tap today, the excitement for college basketball has certainly picked up in the last week with top five and top 15 schools around the country battling it out and upsets along the way that have provided a March Madness feel to it in the month of November.
Game Of The Night: Illinois Fighting Illini Vs. Providence (7:00 PM ET| Fox Sports 1)
While this game features two unranked non conference opponents going up against each other, this has the makings of a battle that could decide which team is on the bubble next March. The Fighting Illini bounced back from their disappointing loss to the North Florida Ospreys and won a close game against North Dakota Sate Bison 80-74.
Illinois is led by two players who are putting in some serious work to start the season. Senior Illini Forward Mike Throne Jr. is averaging 23 points and 11 rebounds with a 47 percent field goal percentage. Junior Illini guard Malcolm Hill is averaging 16.5 points a game seven rebounds and five assists.
The Illini are not the best perimeter shooting team in the world as they are shooting at 36 percent beyond the arc. However, watch out for Illini freshman guard Aaron Jordan who is 5-8 from the perimeter so far this season.
The Friars on the other side are coming off of a 76-64 opening day win against the Harvard Crimson this past Saturday. Junior guard Kris Dunn went off on the Crimson scoring 32 points and sophomore forward Rodney Bullock joined in on the fun as he scored 20 points to go along with six rebounds and three blocks. Malcolm Hill going up against Kris Dunn will be a good battle.
- Incarnate Word Cardinals at Purdue Boilermakers (7:00 PM EST| ESPN 3)
The 21st ranked Boilermakers are looking to stay undefeated and give the Cardinals their first loss of the season. It is no surprise so far this season that freshman forward Caleb Swanigan and sophomore center Issac Haas are leading the charge for the Boilermakers early and Swanigan is proving to be just a monster on the boards averaging 12 a game through two games so far.
The Cardinals on the other side are led by senior forward Kyle Hittle who was just deadly from the perimeter, shooting 41 percent last season. Hittle was second on the team in scoring last season averaging 15.3 points a game.
Through five games this season, the Cardinals have five players averaging at least 10 points a game. The Boilermakers are certainly the favorite, but they might have a nice test early on in non conference play.
- Fairfield Stags at Northwestern Wildcats (7:00 PM EST| BTN Plus)
The Wildcats featuring center Alex Olah might have their best shot this season to make a worthy push to their first ever NCAA appearance. With guard Tre Demps returning for his senior season and freshman forward Aaron Falzon showcasing his talents in the season opening win against UMass Lowell River Hawks with 20 points, the team has a good shot of turning their season into a real underdog story.
The Wildcats have not been predicted to go anywhere near the top of the standings in the Big Ten, but they are tied for seventh in BT Powerhouse Power Rankings so everyone knows that they could be a real sleeper especially for a conference that might see six or seven bids in the NCAA tournament.
The Stags on the other are off to an 0-2 start which isn't a real shame when considering that they went up against the number one ranked team in the country in the North Carolina Tar Heels and lost on the road 92-65. Stags senior forward Marcus Gilbert is their best player as he is returning from a 2014-2015 season where he averaged 16.4 points a game and through two games this year, he is averaging 16.5 points a game.
If the Wildcats are serious about ending a drought and making the NCAA tournament for the first time, this is the year to change it and they can't afford to have any blunders early on.