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11/22 Big Ten Preview: Five Home Games

But just one on TV

NCAA Basketball: Oakland at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, friends, and happy Friday. We have five Big Ten games tonight, but there’s only one on television, so you can go out and have a social life after 9:00 if you want. But you and I both know you’ll be checking that phone to see if Nebraska drops yet another home game to a crappy opponent.

We’re addicts. That’s just how it is.

Here’s our bump for tonight.

Game of the Night:

-George Mason Patriots at Maryland Terrapins

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM EST, BTN
  • KenPom Spread: Maryland -15

At one end, we have a team from the DMV who is undefeated on the back of home games against inferior opponents. On the other end, we have a team from the DMV who is undefeated on the back of home games against inferior opponents.

Maryland is in the middle of an interesting 7-game stretch, where each game sees the opponent get a little bit better (at least according to KenPom). They started with No. 276 Fairfield and won. Tonight, it’s No. 153 George Mason. Then No. 98 Temple; then No. 52 Notre Dame; then No. 47 Illinois; then No. 25 Penn State (yes, a top 25 Nittany Lions team!); then finally No. 18 Seton Hall. During that stretch, the number I’ll be paying attention to is Maryland’s turnover rate. At 16.3% it’s easily the lowest it’s ever been in the Turgeon era. That’s probably mostly a function of lower competition, but if it holds up as the opponents get better, Maryland might finally contend for their first Big Ten title.

Pick against the spread: George Mason

The Rest:

-Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons at Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM EST, None
  • KenPom Spread: Ohio State -23

This one is going to be a laugher, so let’s do something fun instead. Let’s look and see if there are any statistical categories where the Fort Wayne version of Purdue is better than the one in West Lafayette.

Actually, there are several. This is mostly a function of strength of schedule (Purdue has played Texas and Marquette; PFW’s best opponent to date has been Kent State), but what good are stats if we can’t use them to paint a misleading picture?

  • Effective FG%: Dons 54.6%; Boilers 50.4%
  • FTA/FGA (aka “How often do you get to the line”): Dons 27.7%; Boilers 26.7%
  • 3pt%: Dons 38.9%; Boilers 32.6%
  • FT%: Dons 70.4%; Boilers 59.7% (Woof)

So maybe PFW shoots the lights out and stuns the world?

Nah.

  • Pick against the spread: Ohio State

-Houston Baptist Huskies at Michigan Wolverines

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM EST, None
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan -22

Let’s address the elephant in the room first—it’s ridiculous that a team from Houston is called the Huskies. Huskies are northern dogs. Unless the moniker refers to how much obesity and pre-diabetes there is in Houston. Then I’d buy it.

But actually, no, the Huskies don't deserve that nickname, because rather than sitting on their coach and watching Big Bang Theory reruns, they get after it. Houston Baptist is the fifth-fastest-paced team in America. That makes for entertaining, if not good, basketball.

Of particular note is that the Huskies are in the bottom ten in the nation in two categories: live-ball turnovers, and offensive rebounds allowed. In other words, they like to send their guys up the floor rather than to the boards, and then they throw risky passes to their players on the rare occasions when they do secure the rebound.

Take the over on this one, guys.

  • Pick against the spread: Michigan

-Norfolk State Spartans at Northwestern Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 8:00 PM EST, None
  • KenPom Spread: Northwestern -13

That Providence win is looking more and more like an aberration, isn’t it? Tuesday night, our conference mates the Cats dropped their second home game of the year to Radford. The most reliable source of offense for Chris Collins’ team has been to let Anthony Gaines draw a foul and go to the free throw line. 6’10” freshman Ryan Young also shows flashes of promise. Even so, this season, it’s not just every game that’s going to be a slog—it’s every possession.

Northwestern fans, if your job gives you the option to do a 6-month rotation somewhere they don’t get BTN, this would be a good year to take advantage of that option.

  • Pick against the spread: Norfolk State

-Southern Jaguars at Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Time/TV: 8:00 PM EST, None
  • KenPom Spread: Nebraska -19

Speaking of fanbases who ought to be looking at taking that trip to Madagascar...

Nebraska fans are known for packing their arena, even when the team isn’t great. Tonight has the possibility of being the ugliest game every to be played in Pinnacle Bank. Southern is 353rd out of 353 in terms of sending other teams to the line. Meanwhile Nebraska is No. 321 in free throw percentage. Look for a lot of trips to the line, and a lot of misses. Since this one isn’t on TV, only locals in Lincoln will be able to subject themselves to this torture. I recommend lots of trips to the concession stand, and lots of nachos.

  • Pick against the spread: Southern