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3/1 Big Ten Tournament Preview: Addition by subtraction

After two teams were sent packing last night, six more Big Ten teams join the party today.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Northwestern Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten tournament continues to roll on as Thursday comes upon us. While two teams will be playing their second game in as many days, six teams will begin their quest for the tournament crown today as well. Those teams were afforded single byes in this year’s tournament. While questions surely abound about all of the teams playing today, one has to wonder how the two winning teams from yesterday respond. Now that they have some momentum, can they continue their push through the tournament?

Why don’t we take a gander at the great games today:

Game of the Day

-No. 7 Penn State Nittany Lions vs No. 10 Northwestern Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 6:30 pm ET - BTN
  • Spread: Penn State (-6)

Everyone is feeling queasy about the Nittany Lions thanks to the questions about Mike Watkins injured knee. He is unlikely to play in most of the Big Ten tournament, depending on how far Penn State goes. However, I am more uneasy about Northwestern coming into this game.

Coming in as the 10th seed, the Wildcats finished off the season in as bad a way as possible. They dropped their last six games in a row which included losses to Rutgers and Iowa. However, the possible bright side for Northwestern is the fact that they defeated Penn State 70-61 in their last meeting. In the grand scheme of things, that win really does not apply to the outcome of this game, but the Wildcats at least have somewhat of a formula.

It really comes down to how Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens perform for Penn State. If Carr does not shoot efficiently from the field, the Nittany Lions may struggle. On the other hand, Northwestern’s offense has shown spells of utter dysfunction at times this season. They need to prove that they have a reliable offense before they can move forward in this tournament.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Penn State

The Rest

-No. 8 Maryland Terrapins vs No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers

  • Time/TV: Noon ET - BTN
  • Spread: Maryland (-2)

Having been demolished by Michigan in their final regular season game, the Terrapins come in a little behind in the momentum department. Unfortunately for them, Wisconsin is possibly the hottest team in the conference, winning three of their last four. That nice streak of wins rocketed them up the Big Ten standings and put them at the number nine seed.

This game really is a toss up in my mind. Maryland is stout defensively, but can have stretches of poor offensive play, chalk that up to the various injuries they have suffered this season. For the Badgers, they seem to have this weird aura surrounding them. With Brad Davison playing with practically a separated shoulder, they seem to have new life on the floor. I do not know if that translates into a Big Ten tournament title, but I would not be shocked if they get close.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Wisconsin

-No. 5 Michigan Wolverines vs No. 12 Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Time/TV: 2:25 pm ET - BTN
  • Spread: Michigan (-9)

The Hawkeyes looked very sharp against Illinois yesterday, shooting 56 percent from the field en route to a victory. However, Iowa had to score 96 points and only won by nine, surrendering 87 to the Fighting Illini. One question mark for the Hawkeyes has been their defense and how dismal it can be. They lack the true post presence to defend in the paint which could cause problems with Moritz Wagner coming to Madison Square Garden.

What is good for the Hawkeyes is how much Jordan Bohannon has stepped his game up over the past week. The sophomore dropped in 25 points against Illinois last night on 60 percent shooting. Will that be enough though? With the Wolverines having won their last five games, it may be a challenge. I just do no think Iowa has the firepower to hang with a good team like Michigan.

-No. 6 Indiana Hoosiers vs No. 14 Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Time/TV: 8:55 pm ET - BTN
  • Spread: Indiana (-6)

Indiana comes into this Big Ten tournament stumbling, having lost their final two regular season games. It is worth noting that they were both to good teams in Ohio State and Nebraska. Before those two losses, the Hoosiers had won four games in a row. Two of those wins were against both of their potential opponent for this evening’s tilt.

It was Corey Sanders and Rutgers who came out on top of Minnesota in last night’s game. In a game that was rather ugly, the Scarlet Knights were able to play just a little bit better in crunch time. Now, Sanders will have a new challenge, facing off with Indiana’s Robert Johnson. To be honest, Rutgers did not look all that great last night, the Gophers were just much much worse. Good for Rutgers in winning a game in the Big Ten tournament, but they will be up against a tougher test this evening.