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1/22 Big Ten Preview: Hot Buckeye and Husker Squads Face Off

Preview Monday night’s Big Ten action.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

With Big Ten play roughly at the halfway point of the season, pressure is building across the league. Teams need to find ways to score quality wins and the Big Ten title remains up for grabs. Monday’s slate should have an impact on both issues.

Let’s take a look at the day’s games.

Game of the Day

-Nebraska Cornhuskers at Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time/TV: 8:00PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Ohio State (-12)

The Big Ten’s biggest game of the day will come in Columbus, where a red hot Ohio State team will take on a feisty Nebraska team. The Buckeyes are trying to keep pace with Purdue in the Big Ten title race and the Huskers are trying to score another marquee win to get into the NCAA Tournament at-large conversation.

Since a home loss to Clemson on November 29th, things have gone exceptionally for the Buckeyes. The team is 12-1 over its last 13 games with its only loss coming on a neutral court against North Carolina. Additionally, Ohio State has jumped out to an 8-0 start to league play, including wins over Maryland, Michigan, and Michigan State.

On the other side, Nebraska has been improving as well. The Huskers are 7-2 over the team’s last nine games with one of those losses coming on the road to Purdue. Coming into Monday’s game, Nebraska has won two straight, including a blowout victory over a ranked Michigan team on Thursday night.

Simply put, something’s gotta give on Monday.

The key matchup will be upfront where Isaac Copeland and Isaiah Roby will try and slow down Keita Bates-Diop. Specifically, whether Roby can play man against Bates-Diop will tell a lot about whether Nebraska has a chance in this one. Expect a battle.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Nebraska

The Rest:

-Maryland Terrapins at Indiana Hoosiers

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Maryland (-3)

As of Monday morning, Maryland remains the Big Ten’s strongest best at getting a fifth team into the NCAA Tournament. The Terps are solidly on the bubble and desperately trying to get on the right side of things. And with time starting to run out, pressure is building on Mark Turgeon to direct his team down the stretch.

For Maryland, this is a huge week that starts with a road game at Indiana. While the Hoosiers aren’t great, a road win over a competent opponent is always valuable. On the other side, Indiana is trying to build some momentum and get into position for a really challenging week with Illinois and Purdue still to come this week.

The matchup to watch in this game will be upfront with Bruno Fernando and Juwan Morgan. Both have been really productive players this season. Who comes out on top of that showdown likely wins this one.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Maryland

-Michigan State Spartans at Illinois Fighting Illini

  • Time/TV: 9:00PM ET (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan State (-22)

For just the third time this season, Michigan State will find itself playing in a true road game. The Spartans are just 2-2 over the last four games and trying to get on the right track with three games on the docket this week.

On the other side, Illinois is trying to get its first league win and pull off its biggest upset of the season. However, while Illinois is still winless in Big Ten play, don’t be fooled by the record. Illinois has lost three Big Ten games in overtime and three others by 10 points or less. The Illini are competitive.

If Illinois is going to put up a fight, it’s going to need stellar play from Leron Black and its other frontcourt options. Otherwise, Michigan State should grab its second road win of the season on Monday night.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Illinois

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Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 10-21-1