Four red teams are in action tonight on Fox Sports 1, with major implications in the Big Ten conference standings.
Game of the Night
- Time/TV: 6:30 PM EST, FS1
- KenPom Spread: Indiana (-2)
IU is sitting at a respectable 3-2 in the league, but they’re licking their wounds after two roads losses to Michigan and Maryland. The Hoosiers return home to Assembly Hall where they have yet to lose to take on a Nebraska team that is in bad need of a good conference win.
This game will be an instance of strength against strength. The Hoosiers and Huskers both rely on good two point shooting, blessed as they are with guards who can drive the lane and score. Both teams have been burned by squads that have out-rebounded them, and while the battle on the boards is going to be important in this game, too, neither side starts with a personnel disadvantage like they would against Maryland, who has beaten both teams.
Hoosier fans are hoping that Rob Phinisee has his legs back under him, because Nebraska will be the best team that’s come into Assembly Hall yet this season. Neither team is particularly deep, so the game is likely to come down to which group of star players can outperform the other. IU has two all-Big-Ten level guys (maybe three if Phinisee is 100%); Nebraska has four.
- Pick Against The Spread: Hoosiers. Nebraska is a veteran team, but they couldn’t get it done in Minneapolis or Iowa City, neither of which is anywhere close to as intimidating as Bloomington. Indiana rides its crowd to a W.
- Time/TV: 8:30 PM EST, FS1
- KenPom Spread: Maryland (-2)
Maryland is a team that looks like it’s figured out the answers to a lot of its questions, whereas Wisconsin is a team with a lot of questions popping up. KenPom still likes the Badgers better (Maryland is favored by two only because they’re at home), but when you look at the resumes, it’s really a question of whether you like good wins or bad losses.
Both teams have lost to both Purdue and Virginia. Maryland doesn’t have a set of wins anywhere as impressive as Wisconsin’s scalps of Oklahoma and North Carolina State, but they also don’t have anything like a loss to Western Kentucky or two Big Ten home losses.
But even if one of these teams was far and away better than the other, this would still be a game worth watching for one reason: to see Bruno Fernando and Ethan Happ bang away at each other down low. These are two of the best rebounders in the Big Ten, but their playing styles are very different. Happ is a white guy who can’t shoot, with a ballerina’s footwork, the nerve of a bandit, and practically zero charisma. Fernando is a giant black guy who can shoot (40% for the season from deep, admittedly on a small sample size), who could be a defensive tackle or a UFC fighter, and he might have dethroned Matt Haarms as the most expressive center in the Big Ten.
- Pick Against The Spread: Maryland. They’re at home, they have momentum, they have a better supporting cast, Wisconsin has been struggling, and I really want to see Bruno Fernando dominate Ethan Happ.
Season Record Picking Against KenPom’s Spread: 17-21-1