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12/11 Big Ten Preview: Ehh basketball is better than no basketball, right?

Minnesota and Maryland look to both avoid being on the wrong side of an upset bid on Tuesday night

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

Remember last Tuesday when we were in the midst of a string of competitive and interesting conference games? What a tease.

The only way tonight’s games produce an interesting result is if either Maryland or Minnesota find themselves on the wrong side of a home upset. Outside of that, we’re looking at two fairly boring, double-digit spread contests that are almost a foregone conclusion.

That said, we had no games yesterday, so, I mean, upgrade!

Now that I’ve done such a great job of hyping up the action, let’s take a more in-depth look at the two Big Ten games on tonight’s slate.

Game of the Night:

-Loyola (MD) Greyhounds at Maryland Terrapins

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET - BTN
  • KenPom Spread: Marylnd (-22.5)

You’re not missing something — we’re diving right into “The Rest” today, because I couldn’t in good faith anoint either contest worthy of the “Game of the Day” moniker.

For the Terrapins, it’ll be looking to pick up rare back-to-back victories over a Loyola after defeating last year’s NCAA Tournament darlings Loyola-Chicago in Baltimore on Saturday afternoon.

But sharing a first name is the only thing the Ramblers and Greyhounds seemingly have in common, as a full 200 spots on the KenPom rankings separate the two Loyola’s.

Sitting at 4-6, the Greyhounds have struggled mightily against the only other two high-major programs it’s faced this season, losing to St. John’s and Temple by a combined 157-122 margin.

Junior guard Andrew Kostecka was a Patriot League All-Defensive team honoree last year, and has picked up his game offensively, leading the Greyhounds in scoring with 19.7 points per game.

That said, Loyola-Maryland was picked to finished last in its conference this year, and there’s just no realistic way a team who’s tallest player is 6-foot-8 can contain and compete with Bruno Fernando, Jalen Smith, and these Maryland Terrapins.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Maryland

The Rest:

-North Florida Ospreys at Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Time/TV: 9:00PM ET - BTN
  • KenPom Spread: Minnesota (-14.5)

The Ospreys get its second shot at knocking off a Big Ten opponent after failing to do so earlier this year in a 87-72 loss at Penn State.

Unlike Loyola-Maryland, North Florida is far from a pushover and boasts two preseason Atlantic Sun All-Conference team honorees in guard Ivan Gandia-Rosa and forward Noah Horchler.

Both players have more-or-less lived up to that preseason reputation, averaging a combined 26 points, 13.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.9 steals, and 2.2 blocks per game.

The Australian Horchler has been particular impressive, putting up a double-double in four of the eight games he’s suited up in, while North Florida has also gotten consistent play from second-leading scorer Garrett Sams.

So, in short, the Ospreys have legit players.

Minnesota, on the other hand, has continued its run of good play, picking up impressive win after impressive win.

Head coach Richard Pitino has managed to make his seat much cooler thanks to big wins over Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Washington, Texas A&M, and Utah, while the trio of Amir Coffey, Jordan Murphy, and under-the-radar freshmen Gabe Kalscheur have the Gophers off and running.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Minnesota

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Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 7-11