Big Ten basketball had the day off yesterday, but returns tonight with a one game slate between conference heavyweights Indiana and Wisconsin. This contest is expected to go to the wire, as both teams are ranked in the top-25 and primed to make a run in March. Luckily, the conference is guaranteed to win tonight after an atrocious bowl season on the football side. 2-7? Ouch.
All spreads are based on Covers.com.
Big Ten Game of the Day:
-Wisconsin at Indiana
- Time/TV: 7:00PM ET — ESPN
- Covers.com Spread: Indiana (-1)
Heading into tonight, Indiana has four losses. Two are against quality opponents (Butler and Louisville), but the others are head scratching defeats at the hands of Fort Wayne back in November and Nebraska last week to open conference play. No one quite knows what to make of this team right now, but this matchup with Wisconsin is the perfect measuring stick to assess where they stand.
It is (very) early in the conference season, but this game is still significant for both sides. Indiana is chomping at the bit to avenge their current two-game losing streak and notch their first conference win of the season. Wisconsin is 12-2, as each of their losses were a failed opportunity to add a ranked team to their resume of wins. A win on the road against Indiana would be a leap in the right direction.
Wisconsin and Indiana split a pair of games last season, with the home team holding serve in both contests. The combined point differential in those two games was a grand total of four points. Four. Indiana snuck by at Assembly Hall last season with a 58-59 win over Wisconsin but lost 82-79 in overtime a few weeks later to the Badgers at the Kohl Center.
Wisconsin carries an eight-game winning streak into Bloomington with an average margin of victory of nearly 27 points during that stretch. After a shaky, inefficient start to the season, Nigel Hayes is starting to stray away from the three-point line and beginning to find success relying on his mid-range jumper and post skills. In Wisconsin’s two losses, Hayes attempted a combined 16 three-pointers. During Wisconsin’s unbeaten streak, he has only tried six.
Indiana guard Robert Johnson looks to bounce back after an abysmal 1-for- 13 game against Louisville. Johnson led the team in three-point percentage before failing to make one in eight attempts against the Cardinals. A matchup to keep an eye on is in the backcourt with Indiana leading scorer Justin Blackmon Jr. and Wisconsin guard Zak Showalter. Blackmon Jr. can score in a variety of ways, but Showalter is savvy on the defensive end.
- Pick Against The Spread: Wisconsin