The last week of the conference’s regular season is among us. And what a season it has been, sans the acute possibility that a Big Ten team may not crack the top-four seeds in any region of the NCAA tournament.
Games have been wild and upsets have been frequent, but this last handful of days is imperative to many different programs seeking a NCAA tournament bid or momentum heading into the conference tournament next week.
Tonight, Maryland looks to right the ship at Rutgers, Purdue looks to clinch a share of the conference title against Indiana and Ohio State and Penn State battle for Big Ten tournament seeding.
Let’s take a closer look at the games.
Big Ten Game of the Day
- Time/TV: 7ET — ESPN 2
- Spread: Purdue (-10.5)
The stark disappointment wafting from Assembly Hall in Hoosierland is likely nauseating. By now, we all know the story: a team once ranked in the AP top-five is now all but out of the NCAA tournament, losing a team leader and facing public criticism from the head coach along the way.
At any rate, Indiana at least has the opportunity to play spoiler tonight. The spread is certainly heavily leaning Purdue’s way, but the Hoosiers have the potential to come out and put a solid 40 minutes together to at least garner some sense of optimism as the bleak season draws to a close.
Purdue needs to rise to the occasion. The majority of fans and analysts seem to be in agreement that the Boilermakers are the Big Ten’s top team, and it is time for them to accept that title and prove it by defending their home court with a lot at stake.
The matchup to watch tonight is in the front court, where Indiana’s Thomas Bryant and Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan figure to be clashing against one another. Both guys are big and athletic, but the deciding factor will be physicality.
If the Boilermakers win tonight they’ll guarantee at least a share of the regular season conference title. Purdue also holds the tiebreaker over Wisconsin, so a win tonight would lock up the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament next week.
- Pick against the spread: Indiana
- Time/TV: 6:30ET — BTN
- Spread: Rutgers (+5)
For the first time this season, Maryland has undergone a stretch in which its youth has been utterly exploited. The Terrapins have now lost three games in a row, albeit two of the defeats came to the likes of the conference’s top tier teams in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The problem is that all three losses were by double digits, including the head-scratching 14 point shortcoming at home against Iowa. The Terrapins are projected to be a No. 7 seed in ESPN’s latest installment of Bracketology—it’s time to dig in.
Rutgers will not roll over, either. Sure, the team has lost five straight games but played quality opponents Michigan and Northwestern tough in its last two outings, losing by just four points in each.
The matchup to keep an eye on in this one resides in the backcourt between Maryland’s Melo Trimble and Rutgers’ Corey Sanders and Nigel Johnson. Both teams’ offense revolves squarely around those guys, and whoever gives their squad a bigger push will likely come out with a victory.
- Pick against the spread: Maryland
- Time/TV: 8:30ET — BTN
- Spread: Penn State (-1.5)
This one should be go down to the wire, but it lacked the star power and relevancy to earn the Game of the Night honor. Ohio State is coming off a statement win over Wisconsin where they were scorching from three-point range, shooting 10-for-16 from deep.
Penn State looks to stop the bleeding of a three-game losing skid. Per usual, it will be the freshman show for the Nittany Lions, as Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens need to join forces with Shep Garner and find a way to light an offensive spark.
- Pick against the spread: Penn State