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2/4 Big Ten Preview: Maryland Sees Must Win Game

Preview the Big Ten’s action on Sunday afternoon.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

After a wild Saturday on the court, the Big Ten will get back into action on Super Bowl Sunday with two afternoon games. While neither is a marquee matchup, both have NCAA Tournament implications and one has Big Ten title implications.

Let’s take a look at the day’s games.

Game of the Day

-Wisconsin Badgers at Maryland Terrapins

  • Time/TV: 1:00PM ET (CBS)
  • KenPom Spread: Maryland (-9)

Over the last few weeks, it’s been a rough go for the Terps. After starting the season with high expectations and hopes for the postseason, Maryland now finds itself on the outside looking in with just a few games left on the docket. Simply put, time is running out on the Terps and the team needs to start winning and soon.

Sunday’s game offers a great opportunity for Maryland to get back on track against a struggling and short-handed Wisconsin squad. However, considering that the Badgers are just 10-14 overall, this is one of those games where a home loss would be destructive for Maryland. It would be an absolute RPI killer.

Given these circumstances, Maryland’s position heading into Sunday is clear. This is a must win game for the team’s NCAA Tournament chances. If the Terps lose this one on Sunday, it’s hard to plot a reasonable way into the field without a Big Ten Tournament run. And considering how Maryland has performed in that event as of late, fans certainly don’t want to head into New York City needing a huge run.

For Wisconsin, this is an opportunity to score a nice road win, build some momentum, and help its Big Ten Tournament seeding. The Badgers are in a battle to avoid playing on Wednesday in the Big Ten Tournament and a win here would help in staying out of the dreadful first day of the event.

The matchup to watch will be upfront with Bruno Fernando and Ethan Happ. Both have been playing really well lately, but can Fernando hold up against the Wisconsin star? It should be an interesting battle on Sunday afternoon.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Wisconsin

The Rest:

-Illinois Fighting Illini at Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time/TV: 12:00PM ET (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Ohio State (-13)

There isn’t much sugarcoating this one heading into Sunday. Ohio State is a double-digit favorite over Illinois and will be picked by just about everyone to come out on top. Something dramatic will need to happen for the Illini to find a way to come out on top against the Buckeyes.

Having said that, there are a few important things that should remember heading into this matchup. To start, Illinois isn’t nearly as bad as its 2-8 record in Big Ten play implies. The Illini have lost a plethora of games in the final minutes and/or overtime and have been competitive in nearly every game this season. Illinois isn’t great, but the team isn’t as bad as some believe, either.

Additionally, this is a huge game for Ohio State. Not because it’s a marquee matchup, but because a home loss to Illinois would be a devastating RPI hit. The Buckeyes can’t afford that kind of defeat this late in the season. Moreover, it should be destructive for the team’s Big Ten title hopes heading into a huge week of the season.

The matchup to watch will be on the wing where Leron Black will try to slow down Keita Bates-Diop. Can the Illini forward get the job done?

  • Pick Against the Spread: Illinois


Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 15-28-1