The Big Ten/ACC Challenge wrapped up earlier this week, but that doesn’t mean the good basketball is over yet. Big Ten conference play started last night and will continue on Saturday with a handful of teams in action.
So, let’s take a look at what’s on the slate tonight.
Game of the Day:
- Time/TV: 4:30PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Indiana (-1)
Although there are a number of great games on the slate today, none feels bigger than this one. Indiana enters this game at 8-0 overall coming off a huge win over Florida State and Wisconsin is looking to get back on track after losing three in a row. And throw in Indiana’s horrendous recent history in Madison and it’s easy to see why this one could be intriguing.
We touched on the significance of this one a bit above, but this is a tremendously important game for Wisconsin. It’s still early in the season and any major prognostications would still be premature, but it feels like the Badgers are in choppy waters right now. The team is 4-4 overall and another loss would be devastating, especially in what figures to be a winnable game at home. This isn’t a “must win” for Wisconsin, but it feels relatively close.
On the other side, Indiana is looking to prove its fast start to the season isn’t a mirage. The Hoosiers have yet to go on the road this season, which makes this one really intriguing. Can the team’s solid play hold up in one of the Big Ten’s best home venues? We’ll see.
The matchup to watch will be upfront as Trayce Jackson-Davis faces off against Nate Reuvers. Both have had solid starts to the season. Whoever wins there will likely win this one.
- Pick Against the Spread: Wisconsin
-Penn State Nittany Lions at No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes
- Time/TV: 12:00PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Ohio State (-10)
With Wednesday night’s blowout win over North Carolina, it’s hard to argue anybody’s playing better than Ohio State right now. The Buckeyes are now 8-0 overall and seem headed for a great seed in March. The question will now be whether the team can keep up that impressive play on Saturday against a feisty Penn State team. For Penn State, this is a chance to prove this team has improved from past seasons.
Keep an eye on what happens in the backcourt in this one between Ohio State’s DJ Carton and Penn State’s Jamari Wheeler. Neither player leads their respective team, but both will have a huge impact on who wins this one.
- Pick Against the Spread: Penn State
- Time/TV: 2:30PM ET (FS1)
- KenPom Spread: Creighton (-12)
Things haven’t gone well for Nebraska this season, but Saturday offers the team a great opportunity to change the mood around its program. College basketball will always be about how teams perform in March, but rivalry wins are always important. And a win on Saturday could really inject Nebraska with some positive momentum moving forward.
If Nebraska is going to pull off this upset, it’s going to need a superb defensive performance on Saturday on the road. Creighton has a top 25 offense nationally and might be the best team Nebraska has faced to date. Marcus Zegarowski is the player to watch for Creighton.
- Pick Against the Spread: Creighton
-Illinois Fighting Illini at No. 3 Maryland Terrapins
- Time/TV: 5:00PM ET (ESPN2)
- KenPom Spread: Maryland (-10)
It’s odd to say this, but Maryland might be the most under the radar top five Big Ten team I can ever remember. The Terps are 9-0 on the season and have five top 100 wins, but for some reason, seem to be an afterthought to many in the conference. Saturday will offer Maryland another shot at a quality win at home. Meanwhile, Illinois hopes to prove spoiler against a team that seems clearly superior, at least on paper.
The matchup to watch in this one will be between Ayo Dosunmu and Anthony Cowan in the backcourt. Both have been great this season in leading their teams to fast starts. Kofi Cockburn is also another player to watch for the Illini in this one. He’s quickly putting together one of the more impressive freshmen seasons in Illinois history.
- Pick Against the Spread: Maryland
Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 16-15-2