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1/14 Big Ten Preview: NCAA Tournament hopefuls in action today

There are two very intriguing games on the Sunday slate, including Northwestern traveling to Indiana.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

We have a pair of good games on the schedule today with all four teams looking to pick up wins for different reasons.

The day starts off with an interesting matchup between Northwestern and Indiana. Both teams are sitting outside the NCAA Tournament field right now, but still in striking distance where a win today could possibly jumpstart a run.

The second game of the day features a tough road trip to Rutgers for Ohio State. Rutgers is not a dominant team by any means, but going to the RAC has been troublesome for top competition this year.

Let’s take a look at both of these intriguing matchups.

Game of the Day:

-Northwestern Wildcats at Indiana Hoosiers

  • Time/TV: 4:30PM ET/CBS
  • KenPom Spread: Indiana (-1)

If you go off KenPom, then this is basically a pick’em game, and I see it as the same. Both teams have been inconsistent at times this year and both teams are dealing with the injury bug too. So it should be a good back-and-forth matchup.

Indiana has actually been playing pretty good ball since that disastrous game against Fort Wayne. The Hoosiers are 4-1 in the five games since getting blown out by Fort Wayne, including a couple of nice wins against Minnesota and Penn State over the past eight days.

Indiana got some bad news recently with the injury to De’Ron Davis, but Juwan Morgan and Robert Johnson have picked up the slack in the first two games he’s been out. Morgan reached 20-plus points in the last two games and Johnson is averaging 19 points across that stretch. They both will be leaned on more and more as the season goes on.

As for Northwestern, it’s been a rough stretch lately. The Wildcats had lost three of their last four games before drumming Minnesota earlier this week. The Golden Gophers are reeling right now, but that was still a very impressive win and should give Northwestern some confidence heading into this road tilt.

Bryant McIntosh looked like himself again — and is possibly over his recent knee injury — as he dropped 11 points and had a school-record 16 assists against Minnesota. That performance, combined with the 18 points he scored against Penn State the game before, makes me think he’s back on track. He, along with Scottie Lindsey, will need to be at their best to pull off this road win.

As I said in the beginning, both teams have been inconsistent and that makes it hard to predict to who will win this game. Northwestern has struggled away from home this year with a 1-4 record. While McIntosh has looked impressive in the last two games, I’m still not confident in the Wildcats’ ability to win on the road.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Indiana

The Rest:

-Ohio State Buckeyes at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET/Big Ten Network
  • KenPom Spread: Ohio State (-6.5)

Ohio State has been very impressive lately, but heading to the RAC has been hard for some pretty good teams so this should be a good game.

The Buckeyes are 9-1 across their past 10 games, and have looked great during their current four-game winning streak. That includes back-to-back double-digit wins against then-No.1 Michigan State and Maryland this week. Both of those teams are struggling right now, but regardless those are impressive victories.

Rutgers also nearly beat the Spartans earlier this week, taking Michigan State to overtime at the Breslin Center. The Scarlet Knights are now 1-4 across the past five games, but they have played up to their competition at home this year. Rutgers beat then-No. 15 Seton Hall at the RAC and knocked off Wisconsin last week. They also played Michigan State and Florida State tight in home matchups too.

Keita Bates-Diop has been incredible all season, and even better recently. He’s averaging 26 points and 8.4 rebounds across the past five games. Rutgers plays well at home and some pretty darn good defense overall, but I’m not sure they’ll be able to keep Bates-Diop in check. I could see this one going either way, but I do know it’ll be a close game and Rutgers will at least cover the spread.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Rutgers

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Record against the spread this season: 17-13-1