As we get deeper into non-conference play, all Big Ten teams have now played two conference games. Three teams finished 2-0 (Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State) and another three teams finished 0-2 (Rutgers, Illinois, Iowa). This little conference stretch gave some teams confidence going into the second part of their non-conference schedule, while other teams learned they have a long way to go before January. Four teams start their second part of non-conference today.
Let’s take a look at these match ups.
Game of the Night
Valparaiso Crusaders at Purdue Boilermakers
- Time/TV: 6:30 PM ET/FS1
- KenPom Spread: Purdue (-14)
Purdue enters this one coming off a successful early conference run, going 2-0 with wins over Maryland and Northwestern. These are two possible tournament teams so two wins for the Boilermakers were huge confidence builders. They are also 5-0 at home so far this year.
Leading the way for Purdue has been Carsen Edwards averaging 16.3 points per game. Right behind him in scoring has been Issac Haas and Dakota Mathias with 15.7 and 15.5 per game respectively. This team has many scoring options and that is what makes them so difficult to stop.
On the other side, the Crusaders have yet to lose a game. However, they have yet to play a top 100 KenPom team and their only top 150 game was against Utah State(126). We will see how good Valparaiso is since Purdue is a top 25 team in the country and unbeaten on their home court.
Pick against the Spread: Purdue
Ohio Bobcats at Maryland Terrapins
- Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET/BTN
- KenPom Spread: Maryland (-14)
Maryland has had somewhat of a roller coaster season so far. They have some good wins (Butler, @Illinois) but have looked really bad in others (St. Bonaventure). They are 7-3 overall and 1-1 in conference. They need to play more consistent if they want to make a conference run late in the season.
They are led in scoring by Anthony Cowan at 16.5 points per game, while sharpshooter Kevin Huerter is at 13.4 on the season so far. One of their nice surprises so far has been Freshman Bruno Fernando, who is averaging 10.8 points per game and 5.6 rebounds per game, while shooting an efficient 63 percent from the field.
For the Bobcats, they have four players averaging more than 12 points per game with senior Guard Mike Laster (16.1) leading the way. They are not afraid to dive deep into their bench and play 10-11 guys a game, which makes them dangerous to run the court. I think this game will be closer than most people predict.
Pick against the Spread: Ohio
NJIT Highlanders at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
- Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET/BTN2Go
- KenPom Spread: Rutgers (-12)
Rutgers is coming into this one 6-3 but 0-2 in conference and on a three game losing streak. Like every year, the Scarlet Knights have beaten the teams they are supposed to, but have struggled in all three games against decent opponents.
A bright spot would be their performance against Michigan State. Though they lost, they kept it fairly close and held the Spartans to 38 percent shooting.
Corey Sanders is leading the way for Rutgers, putting up 11.9 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game and 3.7 assists. He is the spark plug and leader of this team but he has struggled at times, shooting only 33 percent from the field and 22 percent from three.
For the Highlanders, they have three players averaging in the double digits in points (Anthony Tarke, Diandre Wilson and Abdul Lewis). These are also three out of four players averaging over 20 minutes of playing time a game, the other being Shyquan Gibbs. If NJIT wants to have a chance in this one, these top players have to play well and efficient.
Pick against the Spread: Rutgers
Iowa Hawkeyes at Iowa State Cyclones
- Time/TV: 8:00 PM ET/ESPN2
- KenPom Spread: Iowa State (-6)
In the late match up and the only ESPN televised one, its the battle for Iowa. Both of these teams are having a bit of a down year so far, but the winner of this one will get a much needed confidence boost.
Iowa is led by their sensational forward Tyler Cook, who is averaging 14.6 points per game and 7 boards. Jordan Bohannon and Isaiah Moss are also averaging 12.7 and 12.4 points a game, respectively. The Hawkeyes are 4-5 and lack a good win so they need this win over Iowa State badly.
The Cyclones are 5-2 but they also need a win. They started out 0-2 with 2 very bad losses and have had to work hard to win five straight, but they need to keep winning to get some type of resume.
Look for leading scorers Donovan Jackson (17.0) and Lindell Wigginton (15.1) to keep up that pace and take the scoring role for Iowa State in this one.
Pick against the Spread: Iowa State
Season Record against KenPom Spread: 4-2