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11/11 Big Ten Preview: Indiana and MSU Face Marquee Matchups

Preview the Big Ten’s matchups on opening night, including two marquee games for Indiana and Michigan State against Kansas and Arizona respectively.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-East Regional-North Carolina vs Indiana Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten officially tips off its season on Friday night and the conference has more than enough matchups to keep fans intrigued. The most notable will involve Indiana and Michigan State in the Armed Forces Classic, but there’s plenty of games to get fans excited for the season.

Preview all the games below. All spreads are based on KenPom.

Big Ten Game of the Day:

-Indiana vs Kansas

  • Time/TV: 9:00PM ET - ESPN
  • KenPom Spread: Kansas (-5)

While it was a tough debate as to which game would earn Game of the Day honors for Friday, Indiana’s epic matchup with Kansas eventually won out. These are not only two top 25 teams set to battle, but each is also a college basketball blueblood looking to build off last year’s success.

The matchup to watch in this game will be upfront. Although most eyes are going to be on Josh Jackson (the nation’s top 2016 prospect), how Kansas plans to defend Indiana’s OG Anunoby and Thomas Bryant could be interesting to watch. The Jayhawks look like they could take a step back in the frontcourt this year and this game could tell a lot about that progression.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Kansas

The Rest:

-Southeast Missouri State at Illinois

  • Time/TV: 9:00PM ET - BTN
  • KenPom Spread: Illinois (-19)

Illinois will find itself opening up at home on Friday night against what is projected to be one of the nation’s worst teams. Southeast Missouri State is rated as No. 313 in KenPom’s preseason ratings and is coming off a dreadful 5-24 season. During last season, Southeast Missouri State lost all of its games against top 100 KenPom teams by double-digits. Look for Illinois to continue that trend on Friday night.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Southeast Missouri State

-Kennesaw State at Iowa

  • Time/TV: 9:30PM ET - BTN2Go
  • KenPom Spread: Iowa (-22)

Like Illinois, Iowa is also going to be opening up its season against a terrible. Kennesaw State is rated No. 306 in KenPom’s preseason ratings and had an 11-20 record last season. The most interesting thing to watch in this game is how Iowa freshman Tyler Cook begins his Hawkeye career. He performed really well in exhibition play and will look to build on that on Friday night.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Iowa

-American at Maryland

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET - BTN
  • KenPom Spread: Maryland (-21)

The next era of Maryland basketball will start on Friday night with plenty of questions to answer for the Terps. Melo Trimble returns as a proven option, but the rest of the lineup will be filled with new faces. One key thing to watch will be Maryland’s interior defense. The team’s next game will be on the road against Georgetown and the Hoyas are expected to challenge Maryland inside next Tuesday.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Maryland

-Howard at Michigan

  • Time/TV: 9:00PM ET - BTN2Go
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan (-21)

With so much of last year’s team returning for Michigan, there won’t be a ton of interesting storylines to watch in this game. However, two interesting notes to see will be how DJ Wilson performs after an excellent exhibition outing and which freshman (Austin Davis and Jon Teske) will earn bench minutes. Both of these could be wildcards for Michigan this season.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Howard

-Arizona vs Michigan State

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET - ESPN
  • KenPom Spread: Arizona (-1)

Undoubtedly, this game would have been Game of the Day if not for Indiana’s matchup with Kansas on Friday night. Both Arizona and Michigan State have been incredibly successful over the last few seasons and will look to make a splash on Friday night.

Perhaps the battle to watch in this one will be in the backcourt where Kobi Simmons and Allonzo Trier will face off against Michigan State’s Tum Tum Nairn and Matt McQuaid. The Wildcats figure to have a major advantage, but if the Spartans can close that gap, it could mean major things going forward.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Arizona

-Louisiana Lafayette at Minnesota

  • Time/TV: 8:00PM ET - BTN2Go
  • KenPom Spread: Minnesota (-10)

Although this won’t have the name appeal that some of Friday’s other matchups will have, this is quietly one of the better games. Louisiana Lafayette is a decent team coming off a 19-15 season and has a lot of returning experience in the backcourt. As such, this is going to tell a lot about whether Minnesota has improved from its dreadful No. 192 ranking on KenPom last year or whether fans could be in for another rough season.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Minnesota

-Mississippi Valley State at Northwestern

  • Time/TV: 8:00PM ET - BTN2Go
  • KenPom Spread: Northwestern (-23)

Perhaps no Big Ten team was more criticized last season than Northwestern for its non-conference scheduling. The Wildcats scheduled one of the weakest non-conference slates in the nation and were chastised accordingly. While Northwestern has improved its scheduling this season, that won’t start for another week. Mississippi Valley State is one of the worst teams in the nation and should be no challenge on Friday night.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Mississippi Valley State

-Ohio State at Navy

  • Time/TV: 9:00PM ET - CBSSports
  • KenPom Spread: Ohio State (-15)

While Navy shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge for the Buckeyes on Friday, this should be one of the cooler environments on opening night. The game will be in Annapolis and should feature a hostile and engaged crowd. Perhaps the most interesting thing to watch on the court will be whether JaQuan Lyle can build on his exciting freshman campaign.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Navy

-Albany at Penn State

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET - ESPN3
  • KenPom Spread: Penn State (-8)

The long awaited night is finally here. After literally years of anticipation for Nittany Lion fans, the moment has arrived. Penn State will debut its impressive 2016 recruiting class at home in an intriguing game against Albany. While the Great Danes shouldn’t be too much of a challenge for Penn State, the team did go 24-9 overall last season and recorded wins over solid Stony Brook and Yale teams. The battle upfront will be what to watch.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Penn State

-McNeese State at Purdue

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET - ESPN3
  • KenPom Spread: Purdue (-26)

After months of sitting on that devastating loss to Little Rock in the NCAA Tournament, Purdue can finally turn the page and move on to a new season. McNeese Stat shouldn’t pose much of a challenge for the Boilermakers, but seeing how Purdue’s guards perform could tell a lot about what to expect this season. Purdue will get an epic showdown with Villanova on Tuesday and its going to need improved backcourt play to pull out that win.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Purdue

-Molloy at Rutgers

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET - BTN2Go
  • KenPom Spread: N/A

The Steve PIkiell era of Rutgers basketball begins on Friday night with a home game against Molloy. Neither of these teams figure to be all that good this season, but it could be an intriguing gauge of how far Rutgers has come since Pikiell arrived on campus. Remember, Rutgers struggled to put away Rutgers-Newark on opening night last season.

  • Pick Against The Spread: N/A

-Central Arkansas at Wisconsin

  • Time/TV: 8:00PM ET - BTN2Go
  • KenPom Spread: Wisconsin (-31)

BTPowerhouse’s preseason Big Ten favorite tips off on Friday night with a matchup against Central Arkansas. Like many of Friday’s games, this one doesn’t look all that intriguing considering that Wisconsin is ranked 324 spots higher in KenPom’s preseason rankings. Nonetheless, the Badgers did blow last year’s opener at home against Western Illinois, so tensions will be high to turn the page on that debacle.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Wisconsin

***

Season Record vs The Spread: 0-0