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2/16 Big Ten Preview & Open Thread: Michigan Hosts Maryland

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Preview the Big Ten’s slate for Saturday.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten has a fully loaded slate on Saturday that includes several marquee matchups. Maryland goes on the road to face Michigan, Minnesota will host Indiana, Penn State and Purdue will battle, Rutgers hopes to upset Iowa, and Nebraska hosts Northwestern.

Let’s take a look at today’s Big Ten action.

Game of the Day:

-No. 24 Maryland Terrapins at No. 6 Michigan Wolverines

  • Time/TV: 12:00PM (FOX)
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan (-7)

The biggest game of the day for the Big Ten on Saturday will take place in Ann Arbor, as Michigan hosts a rising Maryland team in a ranked matchup. The Terps have won three of the team’s last four and the Wolverines are coming off a brutal loss to Penn State. The question will be whether the Terps can keep the magic rolling in Ann Arbor.

There are also some major Big Ten title implications to this one as well. Michigan remains tied atop the Big Ten standings and Maryland only sits one game back. A win for the Terps could really shake things up for both teams moving forward.

Perhaps the most intriguing matchup in this one will be upfront as Bruno Fernando faces off against Jon Teske. Over the last few games, Fernando has been a monster. But can he keep it up against one of the league’s better defenders? We’ll see.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Maryland

The Rest:

-Indiana Hoosiers at Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Time/TV: 2:00PM (ESPN2)
  • KenPom Spread: Minnesota (-2)

A few months ago, this genuinely looked like a game that might end up being between ranked teams. Indiana was rolling and Minnesota had put up a quietly good performance in non-conference play. Both teams remained in good shape for the NCAA Tournament.

But fast forward a few months and things look much different. Indiana has gone 1-9 over its last 10 games and the Gophers have now lost four in a row. In a lot of ways, Saturday’s matchup feels like a breaking point for both teams.

The key matchup will be upfront between Jordan Murphy and Indiana’s frontcourt. The Hoosiers are going to have to find a way to slow down Murphy on the boards. Otherwise, Minnesota could run away with this one.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Minnesota

-Penn State Nittany Lions at No. 12 Purdue Boilermakers

  • Time/TV: 4:00PM (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Purdue (-12)

On paper, this game doesn’t look all that intriguing. Penn State is arguably the worst team in the Big Ten and will be going on the road to play in one of the league’s toughest environemnts. Purdue has won 14 straight at home and Penn State will have the challenge of trying to break that streak for the Boilermakers.

The key matchup will be Nojel Eastern and Grady Eifert against Lamar Stevens. It’s going to be a major defensive challenge for the Boilermakers.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Purdue

-No. 21 Iowa Hawkeyes at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Time/TV: 6:00PM (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Iowa (-4)

Don’t be fooled by national media folks talking about this game. This may look like it’s going to be underwhelming, but it figures to be a competitive battle. The Hawkeyes are going to have their work cut out to come out on top in this one. Not only because Iowa has been inconsistent on the road, but also because Rutgers has been playing really well recently.

The main question will be whether Iowa can slow down Geo Baker and Eugene Omoruyi on the defensive end. The Hawkeyes have enough offense to get the job done, but Iowa needs to slow down these two to come out on top.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Iowa

-Northwestern Wildcats at Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Time/TV: 8:30PM (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Nebraska (-8)

Neither of these teams has been particularly great over the last month or so. The Huskers are 1-7 over the team’s last eight games and Northwestern has lost five in a row. Nebraska is barely clinging to its NCAA Tournament hopes and the Wildcats don’t even look like an outside NIT contender at this point.

Still, even with the struggles, these two teams will faceoff on Saturday hoping to get things rolling heading into the Big Ten Tournament. The most exciting matchup in this one will be on the wing where Vic Law and James Palmer will try and top one another.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Northwestern

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Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 60-47-3