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1/4 Big Ten Preview: Maryland faces huge test on the road against No. 1 ranked Michigan State

Elsewhere in the conference, Iowa looks to grab its first Big Ten win against upstart Ohio State

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With Purdue holding serve in a big way Wednesday evening, Michigan State will look to respond and keep what looks to be a two-team race for conference supremacy going in the New Year.

In Iowa City, the Hawkeyes will be looking to find its first win of conference play against the better-than-advertised Ohio State Buckeyes.

Big Ten Game of the Day

-Maryland Terrapins at No. 1 Michigan State Spartans

  • Time/TV: 8:00PM ET - FS1
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan State (-11.5)

When the Spartans take the court on Thursday night it’ll not only be restarting it’s Big Ten schedule after impressive early December wins over Nebraska and Rutgers, but also will be doing so as the Associated Press’ No. 1 ranked team in the country.

This marks the fourth time in Tom Izzo’s 20-year coaching career at Michigan State, and third time in the past five years, that the Spartans have earned top billing on college basketball’s most prestigious in-season poll.

Thanks to stellar play that starts with National Player of the Year candidate Miles Bridges and extends to five players average double figures (not to mention nine who averaging over 11 minutes a game), Michigan State is a diamond amongst the sea of crap that is the 2017-’18 Big Ten.

All of that said, the Spartans haven’t been truly tested since Nov. 30, when it played the then-5th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish, which makes tonight’s game against the Terrapins all the more intriguing.

Maryland has already dipped its toe back into the chilly Big Ten waters with a 75-69 win over the enigma that is Penn State. In that game sophomore guard Anthony Cowan stepped up big in the continued absence of Justin Jackson and Ivan Bender, dropping 18 points while going the distance by playing all 40 minutes.

His extended time on the court became an early necessity as sharpshooting guard Kevin Hurter picked up two quick fouls to start the game. Thankfully for the Terps, Cowan was able to find some help from the Angolan Assassin Bruno Fernando who contributed 17 points of his own on a 7-for-12 night from the floor.

So what’s this all mean for tonight’s game? Not a whole lot.

That’s because you have a healthy and rolling Michigan State team that’s well rested and playing at home squaring off against a Maryland team that just played a surprisingly rough game against the Nittany Lions and is undermanned to boot.

Unless Anthony Cowan goes all boomshakalaka over Michigan State, I’m not quite sure how the Terps overcome the Spartans. And with the game taking place in East Lansing, I’m not sure I see a path to covering the 11.5 point spread either.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Michigan State

The Rest

-Ohio State Buckeyes at Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET - ESPNU
  • KenPom Spread: Ohio State (-0.5)

Ohio State continues to exceed almost anyone’s wildest expectations for how Chris Holtmann’s first season in Columbus would be shaking out.

It’s 11-4 record is starting to look less and less like a mirage, with the Buckeyes right on the edge of being a top 50 team in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Keita Bates-Diop has been a do everything man for Ohio State, averaging nearly a double-double with 18.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.

Iowa, on the other hand, finds itself in desperation mode as the Hawkeyes will look to avoid a 0-4 start to conference play.

In its 75-68 loss to Michigan on Tuesday night, Iowa fell behind midway through the first half and never really managed to crawl its way back into the game.

Sophomore forward Tyler Cook had a huge game, scoring 28 points on 10-for-15 shooting from the floor, but had almost no help from the rest of the Hawkeyes.

If Iowa is to find a way to finally grab that first Big Ten W it’ll need to get some production from the trio of Isaish Moss, Jordan Bohannon and Luka Garza who have all been streaky at best over the past couple of games.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Ohio State

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Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 15-11-1