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2/19 Big Ten Preview: Maryland and Iowa square off in a fight for a double-bye

While Purdue and Indiana renew its ‘rivalry’ and Nebraska visits Happy Valley

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

A matchup between ranked opponents headlines Tuesday night’s action, with a pair of flawed, yet intriguing games taking place on the undercard.

Game of the Day:

-No. 24 Maryland Terrapins at No. 21 Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Time/TV: 8:00PM ET - BTN
  • KenPom Spread: Iowa (-2)

The only conference game featuring ranked opponents, Tuesday night’s clash between Maryland and Iowa could have some big stakes come the postseason.

At 10-5 in the conference, Maryland has a half game lead over the Hawkeyes and Badgers for the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. For those who haven’t paid close attention to the league’s postseason showcase, the difference between the fourth and fifth seed is a big one, as the top four teams earn a double-bye and will find themselves in the quarterfinals before any basketball is played in Chicago.

Maryland enters tonight’s game fresh off a disappointing 65-52 defeat to Michigan on Saturday afternoon. Against the Wolverines, the Terps really struggled to score the basketball, shooting 36 percent from the field and a dismal 27 percent from beyond the arc.

For the Hawkeyes, it returns to Iowa City after an absolute theft of a win in New Brunswick Saturday night. Trailing by two with only 3.3 seconds on the clock, Iowa essentially did its best Christian Laettner homage as Joe Wieskamp banked in a three to break the hearts of a sold-out Rutgers crowd and earn the Hawkeyes its fourth straight win.

The advanced metrics give the slightest of edges to the Terrapins, thanks largely to how so-so Iowa’s defense has played this season. Still, there’s something to be said about playing at home with momentum on your side.

That said, Maryland has done an excellent job bouncing back after a loss this year, only dropping back-to-back games once. That, coupled with the strength of its starting five, give the Terps a road victory and push Maryland into the driver’s seat for a Big Ten Tournament double-bye.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Maryland

The Rest:

-Nebraska Cornhuskers at Penn State Nittany Lions

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET - FS1
  • KenPom Spread: Penn State (-3)

Oh, what a difference a year makes.

This time last season, both the Cornhuskers and Nittany Lions still had its eyes on an NCAA Tournament berth, and a late season head-to-head matchup would have had major postseason implications.

Now the only thing Nebraska and Penn State find themselves fighting over is the hope of avoiding an opening round game at the conference’s postseason tournament.

After pulling a major upset over Michigan last week, Penn State failed to have lightning strike twice, fading late at Purdue in a 76-64 loss. In that defeat it continued to be the Lamar Stevens show for the Nittany Lions, as the junior forward has hit double digit scoring figures in all but one game during the 2018-’19 campaign.

For Nebraska, it’s managed to win back-to-back games after previously dropping seven in a row, pulling itself out of the Big Ten bottom four in the process. In its most recent win, a 59-50 defeat of Northwestern, junior Isaiah Roby stole the show, putting up 19 points and 16 rebounds to pace the Cornhuskers in both statistical categories.

Despite the lackluster record of both teams, Tuesday’s game does have a number of intriguing matchups to keep tabs on. I, for one, can’t wait to see how Lamar Stevens and Isaiah Roby stack up against each other while James Palmer looks to solve the lock down defense of Penn State guards Jamari Wheeler and Josh Reaves.

With the game taking place in State College, and Penn State’s next game coming against Illinois, the Nittany Lions will have its best chance to grab back-to-back conference wins all season.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Penn State

-No. 15 Purdue Boilermakers at Indiana Hoosiers

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET - ESPN2
  • KenPom Spread: Purdue (-4.5)

Are we sure we can still call this a rivalry?

Entering tonight’s clash, Purdue has won seven of its last eight games against Indiana, including its two most recent trips to Bloomington.

Even worse for the Hoosiers, Tuesday’s game certainly doesn’t look like the one where it’ll buck recent trends, as everything that can go wrong recently for Indiana seemingly has done so.

A once promising season for the Hoosiers has been completely derailed by 10 losses over its last 11 games, leading to being just one game over .500 and a 4-10 conference record.

Freshman Romeo Langford continues to be one of few bright spots for Indiana, but should he elect to turn pro at the end of this season, his wasted year will go down as one of the bigger ‘what-ifs’ in recent Hoosiers basketball history.

Purdue, on the other hand, has been loving life recently with only a minor slip-up against Maryland marring what’s been a Big Ten regular season championship-caliber season. Carsen Edwards continues to be one of the most fun players to watch in the entire country and guard Ryan Cline is quietly shooting north of 40 percent from three on the season.

As far as Tuesday is concerned, I’m not sure there’s enough points in the world to have me take Indiana, so only having to lay 4.5 is a gift from the Gods.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Purdue

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Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 15-18