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12/8 Big Ten Preview: Big Ten Boasts Loaded Slate

Preview the Big Ten’s slate for Saturday.

UT-Arlington v Indiana Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

There’s no denying that Saturday is an absolutely loaded slate of Big Ten action. And as such, there’s no point in wasting time on an intro.

Let’s take a look at today’s Big Ten action.

Game of the Day:

-Louisville Cardinals at Indiana Hoosiers

  • Time/TV: 2:30PM ET (FOX)
  • KenPom Spread: Indiana (-6)

Neither of these teams may be ranked heading into Saturday’s matchup, but don’t let that hide how fun this one should be for fans. This is a battle between two blueblood programs who are narrowly divided on the map and looking to make a mark.

For Louisville, this is an opportunity to to build on the team’s recent success. Louisville beat Michigan State at home in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and followed that up with a road win over Seton Hall immediately thereafter. Adding a road win against Indiana to that would be even better.

Indiana is largely in the same situation. It scored two wins to open Big Ten play, but neither came against elite competition. This should be a step up and a huge opportunity for the Hoosiers. This may not be the Louisville of your slightly older brother, but it’s still a quality team that should be in the NCAA picture. A win here would go a long way.

The matchup to watch is going to be Louisville’s Jordan Nwora against Juwan Morgan and Justin Smith. Can the Hoosiers slow him down? We will see.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Indiana

The Rest:

-South Carolina Gamecocks at Michigan Wolverines

  • Time/TV: 12:00PM ET (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan (-17)

This is the return game from a home-and-home scheduled a few years back. Michigan will be looking to keep its undefeated record in place against what is a relatively underwhelming South Carolina team. The Gamecocks may keep this interesting for awhile, but Michigan should be able to pull away.

  • Pick Against the Spread: South Carolina

-Michigan State Spartans at Florida Gators

  • Time/TV: 12:00PM ET (CBS)
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan State (-1)

Like Louisville described above, this isn’t the Florida of years past. The Gators are only 5-3 and have looked pretty ugly at times. However, Florida is still ranked 21st on KenPom nationally and is more than capable of putting together a nice performance at home.

Florida is also a very balanced team. There are no particular standouts. The team plays quality defense and will make Michigan State work for its supper. This will be a huge test for Cassius Winston. Can he avoid committing turnovers? It should be interesting to watch.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Michigan State

-DePaul Blue Demons at Northwestern Wildcats

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

After two rough losses, Northwestern is looking to rebound on Saturday with a very beatable DePaul team at home. The only real question in this one will be whether the Wildcats show up in full force. If Tuesday night’s Northwestern shows up, this should be a win. If the team comes out flat, this will be a tight one.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Northwestern

-UNLV Runnin’ Rebels at Illinois Fighting Illini

  • Time/TV: 2:00PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Illinois (-7)

It’s still early December, but this feels like a massive game for Illinois. After starting the season at 2-7 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten play, things are on the verge of going off the rails. The team desperately needs a win and with a vulnerable UNLV coming to campus on Saturday, this really needs to be a win. This is especially true given that the narrative on Illinois has been close losses to quality teams so far.

  • Pick Against the Spread: UNLV

-Colgate Raiders at Penn State Nittany Lions

  • Time/TV: 2:00PM ET (BTN+)
  • KenPom Spread: Penn State (-6)

Like Northwestern’s matchup, this is a dangerous game for Penn State. While Colgate isn’t great, it is good enough to pull off an upset if the Nittany Lions don’t show up. And considering that Penn State has already lost twice to teams outside the top 100 this season, Penn State needs to find a way to come out motivated. And after two tight losses, that figures to be a challenging task. Expect a battle.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Penn State

-Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Fordham Rams

  • Time/TV: 2:30PM ET (CBSSN)
  • KenPom Spread: Rutgers (-5)

Saturday is a big day for Steve Pikiell and the Rutgers program. All every traditional measure, this year’s Scarlet Knights have started to turn the corner. How that translates to the team’s record by season’s end is up for debate, but the signs are there. But Saturday is a trap game. And one that has plagued Rutgers for years. Pikiell and his squad need to find a way to go on the road and beat a bad Fordham team. No excuses. Get it done.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Rutgers

-Maryland Terrapins vs. Loyola (Chicago) Ramblers

  • Time/TV: 4:00PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Maryland (-7)

With last year’s Loyola squad, this probably would have been a marquee matchup. However, the INSERT have dropped off since last year. This isn’t anything close to a lock for Maryland, but this is a game the Terps should win. And if not, we will have to start wondering about where this team is heading this season.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Maryland

-Arkansas State Red Wolves at Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Time/TV: 4:00PM ET (BTN+)
  • KenPom Spread: Minnesota (-19)

Honestly, there isn’t much to break down about this game. Arkansas State enters this game at 287th on KenPom. This should be an easy win for Minnesota. It would take quite an effort from both sides for an upset.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Minnesota

-Wisconsin Badgers at Marquette Golden Eagles

  • Time/TV: 5:00PM ET (FOX)
  • KenPom Spread: Wisconsin (-1)

This game is flying a bit under the radar, but it’s actually a pretty good matchup with national implications. Wisconsin enters having won its last three, including a comeback against North Carolina State and a road win over a ranked Iowa team. Adding a road win against Marquette to that resume would be another great feather in the cap.

For Marquette, this is a great upset opportunity. The player to watch is Markus Howard. How will the Badgers defend him in the backcourt?

  • Pick Against the Spread: Wisconsin

-Creighton Bluejays at Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Time/TV: 6:00PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Nebraska (-3)

After seven years of struggling, Nebraska is looking to score a win over rival Creighton on Saturday night. And on paper, it should happen. The Huskers are the better team and have been virtually unbeatable at home for well over a year. Still, it’s hard to snap streaks like this, especially considering that Creighton is still a pretty good team.

Ty-Shon Alexander is the player to watch for Creighton and will pose some major challenges for the Huskers. Nebraska will hope to keep control of the pace and keep this as a relatively low scoring game.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Nebraska

***

Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 12-9-0