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12/22 Big Ten Preview: Northwestern headlines Friday slate

A ranked foe awaits the Wildcats in Norman.

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at DePaul Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

As non-conference play enters its final stages, we are left with some tantalizing Friday match-ups. Outside of a few games, the spreads are relatively close given some of the opponents. The primary game of note is the Northwestern Wildcats travelling to Norman to face a ranked opponent in the Oklahoma Sooners.

The Sooners have had plenty of attention swirling around them since Trae Young’s 26 point, 22 assist game on Tuesday. Lon Kruger and co. have impressed so far, only dropping one game to a formidable Arkansas team. None the less, Northwestern has been streaking of late which makes this contest extremely interesting.

Let’s take a deeper look:

Game of the Day

-#17 Oklahoma Sooners vs Northwestern Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET - ESPN2
  • KenPom Spread: Oklahoma (-8)

The Wildcats have undoubtedly played their best basketball over their last four games albeit against relatively weak competition. However, they have looked sharp on both ends of the floor, most notably on defense. Tonight, they will be matched up against arguably the best offensive player in the country in Trae Young.

As mentioned above, Young is coming off a boisterous game where he poured in 26 points and 22 assists, an NCAA single game assist record. Outside of that stellar performance, Young is averaging 28.5 points and 10.2 assists per game this season. This has without a doubt thrust him to the top of the Player of the Year conversation.

Yes, Northwestern has been sharp on defense, but truthfully, it has come against some poor opponents. Needless to say, they may have some trouble guarding Young and the rest of the Sooners.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Oklahoma

The Rest

-Stony Brook Seawolves at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET
  • KenPom Spread: Rutgers (-9)

It has been an exciting week for Rutgers fans after taking down ranked Seton Hall on Saturday. They have now had almost a full week of preparation for a Stony Brook team that has lost three of their last four games. Although ranked 184th in KenPom, the Seawolves have suffered some bad losses over the last few weeks.

With the Scarlet Knights firing on all cylinders as of late, it is hard to not like them in this one. With Corey Sanders and Geo Baker hitting their strides, they should have no trouble handling this Seawolves team.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Rutgers

-Rider Broncs at Penn State Nittany Lions

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET - BTN
  • KenPom Spread: Penn State (-17)

Penn State has been a real surprise so far this season, in a good way. Outside of Ohio State, you could say they are the most improved team in the Big Ten so far this season. That may or may not change once conference play begins, but being ranked 37th in KenPom should not be overlooked.

The Broncs have dropped four of their last five contests, but of those four losses, only one of them was by double digits. However, that loss was to Drexel, a team ranked lower than Rider in KenPom.

All that being said, the Nittany Lions are far and away better than Rider, who has struggled mightily recently.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Penn State

-Delaware State Hornets at Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Time/TV: 8:00PM ET
  • KenPom Spread: Nebraska (-25)

The Hornets are 2-11 so far this season and are the second worst team in the NCAA per KenPom. For those keeping track that would rank Delaware State at an abysmal 350. Couple that with a Husker team that has been sharp over their past few games and you have a recipe for disaster. Need I say more?

  • Pick Against the Spread: Nebraska

-Colorado Buffaloes vs Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Time/TV: 9:00PM ET - BTN
  • KenPom Spread: Iowa (-3)

Iowa has won three straight games, putting them over the .500 mark heading into this game against Colorado. The Buffaloes sit at 8-3 on the season with all eight of their wins coming against sub-par competition. While the same could be said for Iowa in their seven wins, they are currently ranked higher in KenPom by a decent margin.

Yet, this game does shape up as a dandy. The point guard match-up of Jordan Bohannon and McKinley Wright IV is sure to be the focus heading into the game. Whether or not Colorado has an answer for Tyler Cook remains to be seen as well.

This may not be the best game of the night looking at it on paper. However, these two teams are fairly evenly matched which will lead to an unbelievably competitive contest tonight.

  • Pick against the Spread: Colorado