The Big Ten has two games on Wednesday evening and both come with pretty significant NCAA Tournament implications. Indiana will go on the road to face Rutgers and Minnesota will host Illinois at home. The Hoosiers and Gophers will hope to avoid upsets.
Let’s take a look at today’s Big Ten action.
Game of the Day:
-Indiana Hoosiers at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
- Time/TV: 7:00PM (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Indiana (-2)
Heading into this season, few would have thought that a game between Indiana and Rutgers would have national relevance. In fact, few would have reached that conclusion even a few weeks ago. The Hoosiers were expected to finish at the top of the league and the Scarlet Knights were considered an afterthought in a loaded conference.
But as these two teams prepare for a matchup on Wednesday night, it’s actually Rutgers who enters the game with momentum. The Scarlet Knights are only 10-9 overall, but the team has won two in a row and three of its last six. While Rutgers still barely breaks the top 100 on KenPom, the team has shown improvement from its recent struggles and the ability to upset quality opponents.
Meanwhile, Indiana has been in a free fall. The Hoosiers have lost six in a row, with the most recent loss coming in embarrassing fashion at home. Michigan absolutely dominated Indiana last Friday night, leaving many wondering about this Hoosiers team. Time is running out for Indiana to build its NCAA resume and it can hardly afford a loss to Rutgers.
KenPom gives Indiana an edge coming into this one, but it’s by the narrowest of margins and I tend to agree. This is going to be a close game. Rutgers is a really good defensive team and will be able to make Indiana’s offense uncomfortable. It’s going to be up to role players like Aljami Durham and Justin Smith to make things happen. Indiana will need more than just Romeo Langford and Juwan Morgan to avoid an upset.
The Hoosiers will also need a sound game plan for slowing down Geo Baker. The sophomore guard’s stats aren’t insanely impressive, but the Scarlet Knights are 6-1 when he has an offensive rating of 100 or more. Simply put, if Rutgers is going to pull off this upset, Baker will likely play a role.
- Pick Against the Spread: Rutgers
-Illinois Fighting Illini at Minnesota Golden Gophers
- Time/TV: 9:00PM (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Minnesota (-6)
This matchup probably won’t garner much national attention, but it could be a little better than it looks on paper. Both Illinois and Minnesota enter this game with momentum and the Gophers are hoping to keep building on a budding NCAA resume. Minnesota is 15-5 overall and has won three of its last five games.
However, one of the recent missteps for Minnesota was on the road against Illinois on January 16th. The two will now face off again in Minneapolis. Amir Coffey was a non-factor in the first meeting and will hope to make a difference here. Minnesota needs this game to remain in good shape for the NCAA Tournament..
- Pick Against the Spread: Minnesota
Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 47-43-3