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2/5 Big Ten Preview: Indiana at Wisconsin

Plus the Big Ten middle battles it out in Iowa City

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Illinois
Ethan Happ and the Badgers look to keep sole possession of first place as they host Indiana today
Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

It might be Super Bowl Sunday, but Big Ten hoops has two games today that serve up as a great appetizer.

The conference is coming off of four competitive games on Saturday that were all decided by single-digits. Expect more of the same in the two matchups today.

You can preview all of Sunday’s games below. Betting odds are courtesy of vegasinsider.com

Big Ten Game of the Day:

-Indiana Hoosiers at (10) Wisconsin Badgers

  • Time/TV: 1:00PM ET - CBS
  • Spread: Wisconsin (-12.5)

With Maryland’s loss yesterday to Purdue, Wisconsin will look to keep sole position of first place in the conference today.

The Badgers have absolutely owned the Hoosiers lately. Indiana has not won in Madison since the Clinton Administration and Tom Crean is 2-16 overall against Bucky.

The first game went 75-68 Wisconsin in Bloomington and familiar names paced the Badgers. Ethan Happ dominated with 19 points (8-11 shooting), 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Bronson Koenig had 17 points on 5-5 shooting from deep. Indiana had four players in double figures, including freshman De’Ron Davis with 12.

Expect more of the same inside-out formula from Wisconsin today. Happ has been outstanding all season, but in his last four games has averaged 22 points and 9 rebounds. In three previous games against Indiana, Happ has averaged 18 points and 7 rebounds. Bank on the crafty inside player to continue to befuddle the Hoosiers today.

The outside part of this equation, Koenig, is in the midst of a two game funk. The sharpshooting senior has averaged only 9.5 points per game on 6-26 shooting. The Badgers barely scraped by against Rutgers with him struggling and others picked up the slack at Illinois, but the Badgers will need him today.

For Indiana, the season has turned into one of survival. Missing players such as OG Anunoby, James Blackmon Jr. and Collin Hartman, they were pushed to the brink by Penn State at home on Wednesday. The Hoosiers escaped with a 3OT win that might have saved their NCAA tournament hopes.

To win in Madison this afternoon, the Hoosiers need Thomas Bryant to play like the First Team All-Big Ten player he is. Bryant put up a monstrous 31 points and 11 rebounds in 44 minutes(!) in the victory over Penn State. He has averaged 22 points per game over the last three games, but has always struggled against Happ and the Badgers in his two years.

The Hoosiers might be getting some good news this afternoon with the (potential) return of leading scorer Blackmon Jr. His scoring punch will mean the Hoosiers won’t have to rely on younger and more unknown scoring options. It is not 100% that Blackmon Jr. will play, but all talk has indicated that he will give it a go.

I think the Hoosiers will cover today, but Wisconsin will win the game. Indiana seems to have weathered the worst of the injuries and learned good things about players like Josh Newkirk. Recent games between these two have been settled by single digits and today will be no different. Expect a big game from Happ and timely shots from Koenig and Zak Showalter. The Badgers take this one by between 7 - 12 points.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Indiana

The Rest:

-Nebraska Cornhuskers at Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Time/TV: 2:00PM ET — BTN
  • Spread: Iowa (-5.5)

One would think that with the Big Ten’s leading scorer out (Peter Jok), Iowa’s offense would suffer in his absence.

Surprisingly, that has not been the case.

Iowa has averaged 84 points in double-digit victories over Ohio State and Rutgers. Players such as Jordan Bohannon, Cordell Pemsl, Tyler Cook and even Brady Ellingson have all stepped up in Jok’s absence.

Jok (21.1 points per game) returns today against the Cornhuskers as the Hawkeyes will look to get above .500 play in the Big Ten.

The Cornhuskers continued their Jekyll and Hyde play with a lackluster effort against Michigan State on Thursday. The Spartans clobbered Nebraska 72-61 behind 55% shooting from the field. In the previous game, Nebraska shocked Purdue 83-80 for their second victory over a ranked opponent this season.

Expect a lot of points in this matchup today. In the first game, the Cornhuskers defeated Iowa 93-90 (2OT). Jok scored 34 points for Iowa and freshman guard Glynn Watson Jr. matched him with 34 of his own on 7-8 shooting from three for Nebraska.

Since that win for Nebraska they are 1-6 and Iowa is 4-3. I think Iowa wins this one today going away with an offensive onslaught. The young Hawkeyes play well at home and get their offensive playmaker back. Book an Iowa double-digit victory.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Iowa