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11/16 Big Ten Preview: Northwestern heads to Indy

Preview the Big Ten’s matchups for Wednesday night, including an early season test for Chris Collins and the Northwestern Wildcats

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Northwestern Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Last night was fun, wasn’t it? It was an early season “Super Tuesday” that featured the likes of an emotional roller coaster ride with the Terps (Oh Georgetown...OH GEORGETOWN! What did you do? WHAT DID YOU DO?) and Sparty (yeesh) and Jalen Coleman-Lands turning into a real life fire emoji (6-9 from three) and the Buzzcuts getting shocked in Omaha (Creighton might be one of the most exciting teams to watch the rest of the season) all in a couple of jam packed hours.

Tonight?

Well...

I always hate being the bearer of bad news, but Wednesday’s slate won’t be quite the same. Yet, before you decide to put up your holiday decorations while watching Home Alone for the hundredth time or you start prepping that crock-pot ham for your Friendsgiving festivities, there is still one pretty solid Big Ten game that should demand some of your attention.

Let’s take a look (all spreads are based on KenPom).

Big Ten Game of the Day:

- Northwestern at Butler

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET - Fox Sports 1
  • KenPom Spread: Butler (-9)

Northwestern hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament before. No seriously. They haven’t. Look it up.

If this is your first time hearing this, or if you have Big Ten amnesia, I promise you, the announcers over at Fox Sports 1 will remind you throughout tonight’s matchup with Butler.

If Chris Collin’s and his Wildcats want to buck that oh-so-nasty trend, sealing a win tonight would be a giant step in the right direction. After grabbing two easy wins against Mississippi Valley St (94-63) and Eastern Washington (86-72), Northwestern is going to have to take off the training wheels on the 2016-17 season and see what this now healthy lineup can do against a team that is highly thought of around college basketball.

While KenPom (at the time of this writing) has the win probability set at 79% in favor of Butler, if Vic Law can continue to out play himself (he’s had two career high scoring efforts with 19 points against Mississippi Valley and 26 more against Eastern Washington) as well as every one else on the court with him, this isn’t going to be some walk in the park for the Bulldogs (GET IT?).

It’s weird to say, but Northwestern’s season rests on the shoulder(s) of Law. Yes, he’s a redshirt sophomore who is coming back from a major injury that shut him down last season, but he’s got the physical tools, athleticism and versatility to be a difference maker on both ends of the floor. The more Law continues to establish himself down low, the easier things will become for guys like Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey out on the wing.

Northwestern will go as Law goes, but don’t be shocked if it’s McIntosh that fills up the box score at the end of the night. The junior point guard grew up about an hour southeast of Indianapolis and will surely have family in the crowd.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Northwestern

The Rest:

-UMass at #6 Indiana

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET - BTN
  • KenPom Spread: Indiana (-26)

Excuse me for sounding like a ‘Member Berry, but every single time that I have watched Indiana the past two or three seasons, I end up having those same feelings I used to get when I played Ghost in the Graveyard with everyone in my neighborhood. It’s exciting. It’s suspenseful. And by the end of the night, I just might end up falling in love.

While UMass isn’t going to provide any of us with the same suspense or excitement Kansas did, we all have the opportunity to fall more in love with James Blackmon Jr. who played a team high 39 minutes, scored 26 points on 8-17 shooting last Friday and looked like an even better version of the multi-faceted scoring threat he was before a knee injury forced him to take a permanent seat on the pine.

  • Pick against the Spread: Indiana (this is going to be a bloodbath)

-Mount St. Mary’s at Minnesota

  • Time/TV: 8:00 PM ET - BTN2GO
  • KenPom Spread: Minnesota (-18)

Mount St Mary’s is the worst team on Minnesota’s cupcake non-conference schedule (#287 according to KenPom). Call this what you want, but all this game will end up being is one last tune-up before the Gavitt Tipoff Games.

  • Pick against the Spread: Minnesota

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Jerome’s Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 0-0