The second weekend of Big Ten action features three games throughout the day. While Melo Trimble and Maryland go on the road to play Wisconsin, Bryant McIntosh and Northwestern take on Minnesota and Tim Miles' Nebraska team battles Rutgers. Here's what to expect from today's Big Ten action.
Game of the Day
Wisconsin Badgers vs. #3 Maryland Terrapins - 1:00 ET (ESPN)
This game marks a rematch of one of the best Big Ten contests of the season last year. With Wisconsin ranked #5 in the nation, Maryland was able to pull the upset last February, upending the Badgers 59-53. This marked just the third Wisconsin loss of the season, and the last one until the National Championship game.
This year, the tables have turned. Wisconsin is unranked and in desperate need of a big win. Maryland, on the other hand, is the team to beat in the conference and looks like a serious Final Four contender. But it be time that the Badgers get their revenge?
While the Kohl Center has been a near-impossible environment for opponents to win in during years past, home court advantage seems to be dwindling for Wisconsin. The Badgers have already dropped home contests this season to Western Illinois, Marquette, Milwaukee and Purdue, the ladder of which is the only quality team. This pattern bodes very well for the Terrapins.
If Wisconsin wants to win, Nigel Hayes will have to play his best basketball of the year. A standout last season, Hayes has been good this year, but not great. While he is averaging 15.7 PPG, Hayes will need to have a mid-twenties performance to counter the star power of Melo Trimble and Jake Layman. Bronson Koenig will need to play at an elite level as well, along with the rest of this very young Badger team. Maryland gets the edge in this game and is favored by 3.5 points.
Elsewhere in Big Ten play
Northwestern looks to rebound from their loss to Ohio State this week when they take on Joey King and the Golden Gophers this afternoon. Minnesota is looking to avoid a five-game skid dating back to their December 23rd loss to Milwaukee. Joey King has been putting together a solid season, but the reality remains that this team simply does not have the talent to compete at a high level in the Big Ten right now. With NU having the edge in terms of skill, it should be interesting to see how Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino chooses to approach guarding the Wildcat backcourt. McIntosh was exposed earlier this week when the Buckeyes were able to force many turnovers, effectively shutting down the Northwestern offense. If the scouting report is to be executed correctly, McIntosh should be suffocated by the Golden Gophers' defense. Still, the Wildcats have the edge in this one.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers - 5:00 ET (ESPNU)
In a lower end Big Ten battle, Nebraska and Rutgers each try for their first conference win of the season. Junior Andrew White has been great for the Huskers and is averaging 16.8 PPG on the season. He and Shavon Shield have been carrying this team all year long. On the other side, the Scarlet Knights have been led by freshman Corey Sanders who is averaging 13.5 PPG. I would expect Nebraska to pull away with this game.