After seeing a variety of Big Ten teams debut over the last two days, three more will tip off their respective seasons on Thursday night. All three games will be at home for the Big Ten as each tries to build on a rough 2017-’18 season.
Let’s take a look at the day’s games.
Game of the Day
- Time/TV: 8:00PM ET (BTN+)
- KenPom Spread: Illinois (-12)
This might not seem like a great selection for the Game of the Day, but this matchup is probably a bit better than it looks on first glance. After all, the Purple Aces had a better record than Illinois last season and only finished 32 spots lower on KenPom. Projections might not be as close for the two teams this time around, but that should give fans perspective on this one. Evansville is a step up from many “filler” opponents.
For Illinois, this is an opportunity to get off on the right track. The Illini had a rough 2017-’18 season and are hoping to turn the corner this time around. All eyes will be on Ayo Dosunmu, who will make his regular season debut for Illinois on Thursday night. Hopes are high for the highly regarded freshman.
Evansville suffered a lot of attrition from last season, but were a pretty good defensive group last year. As such, this should be a good test for the Illini offense.
- Pick Against the Spread: Evansville
- Time/TV: 8:05PM ET (BTN+)
- KenPom Spread: Iowa (-21)
Iowa is another team heading into this season looking to put the 2017-’18 season in the rear-view mirror. Unfortunately, fans will have to wait at least a week to see how far the Hawkeyes have come since March. UMKC is already 0-1 on the year and will be lucky to keep this game within single-digits.
The one thing to watch will be how Iowa does defensively. As mentioned, UMKC isn’t a great team. The Kangaroos are 272nd on KenPom and were terrible last year as well. However, Iowa’s defense was putrid last year. If UMKC is able to score at will, be worried.
- Pick Against the Spread: UMKC
- Time/TV: 8:00PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Northwestern (-19)
Like the teams above, Northwestern is trying to move forward from a rough season. The Wildcats entered 2017-’18 with a lot of hype and failed to live up to any of it. The team will now hope that players like Vic Law can take the next step. Otherwise, Northwestern could be in for another rough go around.
New Orleans enters this matchup at 1-0, but 299th on KenPom. The Wildcats should win this one with ease. Keep an eye on the freshmen to see some major minutes.
- Pick Against the Spread: Northwestern
Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 0-0-0