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1/7 Big Ten Preview: Illinois at Indiana

Preview of Saturday’s Big Ten basketball schedule, including a huge contest between Illinois and Indiana.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being inactive on Friday, the Thursday night Big Ten schedule was enough action for both days.

With three outstanding games, Thursday’s slate was the best collection of games so far in conference play.

In the opening game, Ohio State and Purdue battled back and forth the entire way. With 15 seconds left and the game tied at 75, Trevor Thompson missed a free throw for Ohio State that would have put them ahead. On the other end, Caleb Swanigan put Purdue on top 76-75 with a free throw of his own and the Boilermakers held on for the win.

Purdue moved to 13-3 on the season, while Ohio State fell to 10-5.

The 9 P.M games ended up being just as entertaining.

After trailing 39-35 at halftime, Minnesota stormed back in the second half and beat Northwestern 70-66 in Evanston. The Wildcats did not go quietly though, cutting the Gopher lead to 66-64 with 14 second left. Minnesota’s Nate Mason was able to convert four free throw attempts down the stretch, icing the game for the Gophers.

Minnesota moved to 14-2, while Northwestern fell to 12-4. Surprisingly, the Gophers 14 wins are the most in the conference.

The third and final contest to finish was the BTPowerhouse “Game of the Day”.

Living up to the hype, Iowa and Nebraska went into double overtime. As the final seconds ticked away, the Cornhuskers celebrated a 93-90 triumph and their third straight Big Ten win. Glynn Watson Jr. led Nebraska with 34 points, while Iowa’s Peter Jok also scored 34.

With the win, Nebraska moved to 9-6 on the year. On the losing side, Iowa fell to 9-7 in 2016-17.

Saturday’s games should be exciting as well, you can preview all the games below. Betting lines are courtesy of Covers.com.

Big Ten Game of the Day:

-Illinois Fighting Illini at Indiana Hoosiers

  • Time/TV: 5:00PM ET - ESPNU
  • Covers Spread: Indiana (-10.5)

This BTPowerhouse “Game of the Day” is a battle of the two most inconsistent Big Ten teams.

Indiana started the year with impressive wins over blue blood programs like Kansas and North Carolina, only to lose their first two Big Ten games at home.

The losses weren’t against bad teams, but Indiana is supposed to be a top tier program. Coming into the year, the Hoosiers were picked by many to win the Big Ten. Now, they’re in a must-win situation just to get their season back on track.

This game won’t be an easy task for Indiana, the Fighting Illini have the ability to beat anyone.

Like Indiana, John Groce’s team has been up and down as well. Whether it be losing to Winthrop at home, or beating NC State and Ohio State, you never know which Illinois team is going to show up.

Expect the Hoosiers to play desperate and come out with a win at all costs mentality.

Although I expect Indiana to come out on top, Illinois has the firepower to stay in the game.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Illinois

The Rest:

-Michigan State Spartans at Penn State Nittany Lions

  • Time/TV: 1:00PM ET - ESPN
  • Covers Spread: Michigan State (-5)

A battle of two teams in the Big Ten with top-flight freshman.

Penn State finally gets to show what they’re made of on big time national television.

The Nittany Lions have an impressive group of freshman from Philadelphia. In fact, three of them are from the same high school (Carr, Stevens, Bostick).

First-year players Mike Watkins, Tony Carr, and Lamar Stevens have all made an immediate impact for Penn State. Watkins is the anchor in the middle, averaging 3.1 blocks per game. Carr and Stevens have been equally impressive, averaging double digits in scoring and over five rebounds.

Michigan State has Miles Bridges back in the lineup. Although he didn’t start last game, he stole the show with his rim rattling dunks.

Expect Bridges to move back in the starting lineup for Michigan State versus Penn State.

After winning three straight Big Ten games, it’s possible that Sparty has somewhat of a letdown versus lowly Penn State.

Even though the Nittany Lions don’t have a great home court advantage, it is still a home game. Plus, Penn State is playing better as of late. Pat Chamber’s team almost stole one in Michigan this past Wednesday, losing 72-69.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Penn State

-Maryland Terrapins at Michigan Wolverines

  • Time/TV: 3:15PM ET - ESPN2
  • Covers Spread: Michigan (-7)

Luckily for Maryland, they have been able to eke out close wins in their biggest games this year.

The basketball gods finally got even in their game against Nebraska. The Huskers erased a 12 point deficit, holding the Terps scoreless in the final six minutes.

Although they lost to Nebraska, Maryland is still 13-2 this season. Yes, they are good, but their record is definitely inflated by their good fortune. In fact, KenPom has them rated as the No. 34 luckiest team in all of college basketball.

On the other hand, Michigan is 11-4.....The Wolverines started Big Ten play sluggish, losing a tough game to Iowa and barely squeaking by Penn State. You can make the argument that their record is worse than they really are.

With Maryland overachieving, they’re due for another loss.

KenPom has Maryland rated No. 62 and Michigan rated No. 31. No surprise here, the Wolverines are the better team with a lot more experience.

It’s officially time for a statement game out of Michigan.

Pick Against The Spread: Michigan

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Casey’s 2016-17 Big Ten Record: 18-11