The Big Ten kicked off the week with a triple-header of action on Tuesday night. Although, not every game was a nail biter, it was certainly a nice way to get the ball rolling.
To highlight the day, the Fighting Illini pulled an upset in Evanston over Northwestern., beating their in-state rivals 68-61, despite being six-point underdogs.
Wednesday night will feature a doubleheader of games on the Big Ten Network, kicking off at 7:00 P.M ET.
You can preview all of Saturday’s games below. Betting odds are courtesy of Covers.com.
Big Ten Game of the Day:
-Iowa Hawkeyes at Minnesota Golden Gophers
- Time/TV: 9:00PM ET - BTN
- Covers Spread: Minnesota (-6.5)
The rivalry between these two Midwestern schools dates all the way back to the early days of the Big Ten. In fact, when Iowa and Minnesota meet on the gridiron, they play for what’s known as the “Floyd of Rosedale” trophy. However, in hoops, there will be no trophy handed out, only bragging rights.
According to KenPom, the Gophers are the better team, ranking 31 spots ahead of the Hawkeyes (Minnesota No. 38 and Iowa No. 69). If you have seen them play this year, then it’s a safe bet that you can agree with that assessment.
Minnesota has one of the most talented and experienced rosters in the conference, with four players averaging in double figures. Nate Mason is leading the charge for the Gophers this year, facilitating the offense as well as creating off the dribble. In a team high 23 games, Mason leads the team in scoring (14 ppg) and assists (5.1 apg).
On the flip side, Iowa is getting it done with a younger team. The Hawkeyes start four freshman alongside Peter Jok, and have won their past three Big Ten games.
With Minnesota finally breaking their five-game skid over Illinois last week, I think they’re ripe to get back on track. At one point, they were the ‘Cinderella’ story of the Big Ten and that was no coincidence.
“The Barn” will be rocking tonight and the Gophers are going to send a message to the conference.
- Pick Against The Spread: Minnesota
-Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Ohio State Buckeyes
- Time/TV: 7:00PM ET — BTN
- Covers Spread: Ohio State (-10.5)
What in the world is going on? The Scarlet Knights actually won a road game?
Well, Rutgers’ win at Penn State makes one thing incredibly clear. The Big Ten is one of the deepest conferences in college hoops and no one is safe.
To their credit, Rutgers has played good over the last five games (not counting Iowa). First-year head coach Steve Pikiell has the program ahead of schedule and superstar guard Corey Sanders is making a case as the most exciting guard in the conference. In both of Rutgers’ wins, Sanders has led the way with 25 points.
Ohio State got back on track last game with a win over Michigan, and in my mind, you cannot count them out of the NCAA Tournament race yet. The Buckeyes have seven games remaining and could realistically win five or six. Plus, Thad Matta is known to make noise in the Big Ten Tournament, having won four of them in his tenure.
Matta will have his squad ready Wednesday night, in what is a must-win for the Buckeyes. However, Rutgers is known to keep games tight, especially against teams who aren’t extremely disciplined.
The Scarlet Knights haven’t covered back-to-back games throughout their Big Ten schedule and that trend will cease Wednesday night. I do think the Buckeyes prevail, albeit in a close game.
Rutgers Nigel Johnson missed last game with a thigh injury and is day-to-day. On the Buckeye injury front, they should be getting JaQuan Lyle back vs. Rutgers.
- Pick Against The Spread: Rutgers
Casey’s Record vs The Spread: 31-21-1