I hope everyone had a great New Years, and now we can all relax as we let 2017 roll in with a five game slate on New Years day. The Sunday showcase includes a four game marathon on the Big Ten Network and one game on ESPNU. Only one ranked team (Purdue) will play Sunday.
You can preview all the games below. All spreads are based on Covers.com
Big Ten Game of the Day:
- Minnesota at Purdue
· Time/TV: 4:30 PM ET- BTN
· Covers Spread: Purdue (-12)
Minnesota lost their first Big Ten game to Michigan State after leading the Spartans 39-26 at half, but just got out grinded in the second half into overtime. Minnesota still has a top-20 ranked defense in field goal percentage, but have really not been faced with a lot of adversity this season, and the team’s game against Michigan State could be a wake up call for Minnesota.
Purdue is arguably the best team in the conference with the best player in the conference in Caleb Swanigan. Purdue’s big men in Swanigan and Issac Haas have been on of the best frontcourts in the country this season and I don’t see the Golden Gophers getting enough stops on the defensive end against Purdue, which is a top 25 ranked scoring offense in the NCAA.
Pick Against The Spread: Purdue
- Nebraska at Maryland
· Time/TV: 12:00 PM ET- BTN
· Covers Spread: Maryland (-6)
Nebraska ended Indiana’s 26-game home winning streak with an impressive win with their first conference game. Tai Webster and Glynn Watson Jr. are the go to guys for this Cornhuskers team, and carried them against the Hoosiers, but I don’t think this win will catapult their season.
Maryland’s roster is not as strong as last season, but the Terrapins are still 13-1 behind Melo Trimble who is having another great season averaging over 18 points a game. This team is very young with three freshman starters, but as Trimble goes, they go. Even with this young roster, Maryland is poised to make the NCAA tournament yet again. I think this game could be close, but Trimble is one of the best in the country at winning games down the stretch.
Pick Against The Spread: Nebraska
- Michigan at Iowa
· Time/TV: 2:15 PM ET- BTN
· Covers Spread: Michigan (-2.5)
This is Michigan’s first conference game of the season, as they have had ten days off to rest. This Wolverine team is very balanced with one of the stingiest defenses in the country, and an offense that can spread you out with all five players having the ability to shoot the ball from three.
Iowa has arguably the best player in the conference in Peter Jok who leads the Big Ten in scoring and is just a nightmare to slow down for opposing teams. However, Jok can’t do it alone, especially not against a Michigan team who’s ranked in the top 20 in scoring defense.
Pick Against The Spread: Michigan
- Penn State at Rutgers
· Time/TV: 2:30 PM ET- ESPNU
· Covers Spread: Rutgers (-3)
Penn State lost their first Big Ten game against Northwestern, but the Nittany Lions have been playing some decent basketball the past few games behind the return of Josh Reaves. This is a big game for Penn State to stay within the middle of the pack and not fall too far behind in the conference before it’s too late.
Rutgers has lost two games straight to Seton Hall and Wisconsin, after their hot start. This team doesn’t really have much of an identity right now, as they are still trying to figure out if their positive non-conference start was due to good play, or due to a really easy schedule.
I think Penn State is the better team, with the better players, 1-5. Despite being the underdog, I don’t think Rutgers can shut down this balanced scoring attack from the Nittany Lions.
Pick Against The Spread: Penn State
- Ohio State at Illinois
· Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET- BTN
· Covers Spread: Pick ‘em
Ohio State has the most balanced scoring attack in the conference with six players averaging in double figures. The Buckeyes also have one of the best defenses in the Big Ten averaging 63.1 points against this season.
Illinois’ Malcolm Hill is one of the premiere scorers in the conference and continues his good play, but the good play somewhat stops there. The Fighting Illini got killed by Maryland in their first conference game where Hill scored 21 of the teams, 59 points.
Ohio State’s defense is good enough to stop Illinois. They might not be able to contain Hill, but as long as no one else goes off for the Illini, the Buckeyes should win.
Pick: Ohio State