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1/22 Big Ten Preview: Michigan and Indiana look to get back on track

While Minnesota and Northwestern look to keep its NCAA bid hopes alive

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

The evening’s two biggest storylines revolve around how Michigan rebounds following last weekend’s defeat and Indiana’s effort to end a four-game losing skid.

Minnesota and Northwestern are far from pushovers for either of the aforementioned teams, however, meaning we could be in for a solid evening of Big Ten basketball.

Game of the Day:

-Minnesota Golden Gophers at Michigan Wolverines

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET - BTN
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan (-13)

There’s blood in the waters of Ann Arbor.

Coming off its first defeat of the season, the Wolverines will look to prove Saturday’s slip up against Wisconsin was an aberration as it welcomes Minnesota to the Crisler Center.

Michigan’s loss to the Badgers was weird – and in more ways than one. Trailing by just three with a minute left on the clock, Wisconsin scored the next seven points to earn a double-digit victory over the No. 2 team in the country. Stud freshmen forward Ignas Brazdeikis, the Wolverines’ leading scorer on the year, was held scoreless for the first time in his Michigan career, while second-leading scorer Charles Matthews managed only five points on 2-of-5 shooting.

Minnesota, on the other hand, is coming off back-to-back games that saw the Gophers split with the Big Ten’s two bottom-feeders in a road loss at Illinois and a home win against Penn State.

Against Illinois, Minnesota was absolutely run out of the gym, allowing 51 first half points before ultimately falling by a 27-point margin to the previously winless Fighting Illini. In response, the Golden Gophers nearly allowed the conferences other winless team to escape Minneapolis with a victory, with a Lamar Stevens missed uncontested jump shot being the only thing that separated Minnesota from a truly abhorrent two game stretch.

Questionable wins and losses aside, the duo of Amir Coffey and Jordan Murphy have helped the Gophers exceed its relatively low expectations entering the year. That said, the two will need to be near perfect Tuesday night if coach Pitino hopes to escape Ann Arbor with a marquee win, dealing the Wolverines a second-straight defeat in the process.

Why is that? Well for starters, Michigan looks pissed.

John Beilein was about as fired up as I’ve ever seen him during the tail end of Saturday’s loss – and I fully expect him to be playing for blood against Minnesota. On top of that, it would be foolish to expect Brazdeikis and Matthews to struggle as much as they did against the Badgers. Even a modest improvement by the two, coupled with the outputs of Jordan Poole, Zavier Simpson, and Jon Teske should be more than enough to carry the Wolverines in this one.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Michigan

The Rest:

-Indiana Hoosiers at Northwestern Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 9:00PM ET - BTN
  • KenPom Spread: Pick ‘Em

It’s become the worst of times for Indiana, as the once undefeated-in-conference-play Hoosiers have dropped four in a row, including most recently a 15-point loss at Purdue on Saturday.

Bench scoring has been tough to come by for Indiana, as the Hoosier reserves have averaged only five points over the four-game losing streak, putting an incredibly high burden on freshmen Romeo Langford and senior Juwan Morgan to carry the scoring load.

It goes without saying that even against the “lesser” teams in the Big Ten, IU will need more production from its bench if it hopes to get back on track and in the win column.

For Northwestern, it used a road game against Rutgers to get itself back on track after back-to-back defeats at the hands of Iowa and Michigan.

Senior Vic Law struggled in his return to the Wildcats lineup, scoring six points on 2-of-10 shooting against the Scarlet Knights. Thankfully for Northwestern, senior center Dererk Pardon continued a stellar run of play, contributing 17 points and 7 rebounds in Northwestern’s road victory.

Indiana ultimately has more talent than the Wildcats, but Northwestern has shown on more than one occasion this year that it’s not to be taken lightly. In fact, when these two teams met previously in Bloomington, the Wildcats nearly pulled off the road upset, falling to the Hoosiers 68-66.

Taking into account Indiana’s subpar run of play and Northwestern looks primed to split the season series with the Hoosiers.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Northwestern

***

Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 10-13