If everything holds serve Tuesday night, Iowa and Wisconsin will pick up road wins, while Ohio State’s season takes another step towards being put on life support.
But the beauty of college basketball (and especially the Big Ten this year) is we never know what’s going to happen.
With that said, to the basketball!
Game of the Day:
-No. 21 Iowa Hawkeyes at Ohio State Buckeyes
- Time/TV: 7:00PM ET - BTN
- KenPom Spread: Ohio State (-2)
Fighting its way into the NCAA Tournament sure isn’t easy for Ohio State.
After tangoing on the road with Maryland on Saturday, the Buckeyes return home to Columbus where another ranked foe in Iowa awaits them. But after that, Chris Holtmann and company can exhale, yes?
Following tonight’s game against the Hawkeyes, Ohio State closes out its Big Ten regular season at Purdue, at Northwestern, and home against Wisconsin.
Should you want to look at this from a glass half full perspective, with quality opponents comes the chance to boost ones resume at the most opportune time. But how can the Buckeyes best go about kicking off this difficult stretch with a home win against Iowa?
For starters, it can hope to get senior guard C.J Jackson involved early, often, and if nothing else, at all. After six straight conference games in double-figures, Jackson struggled in consecutive outings against Michigan State and Northwestern, scoring eight and five points, respectively. He followed those outings up by surprisingly missing Saturday’s game against Maryland with a shoulder injury, further proving that as Jackson goes, so do the Buckeyes.
As of this writing, it’s unclear if Jackson will be able to play in tonight’s game against the Hawkeyes.
For Iowa, it has a much more palatable conclusion to its 2018-’19 campaign. Following tonight’s game in Columbus, the Hawkeyes return to Iowa City for a contest with Rutgers before hitting the road for trips to Wisconsin and Nebraska.
Ignoring that the Scarlet Knights might be out for blood against Iowa, Fran McCaffery has a nice opportunity to enter postseason play on a favorable little run. But that run starts on Tuesday, and Iowa’s coach will look to his five (!) double-digit scores in Tyler Cook, Luka Garza, Jordan Bohannon, Joe Wieskamp, and Isaiah Moss to get Iowa started on the right foot.
So can the Hawkeyes deep roster contend with an Ohio State team that’s much more desperate for the win and playing at home?
- Pick Against The Spread: Iowa
-No. 22 Wisconsin Badgers at Indiana Hoosiers
- Time/TV: 9:00PM ET - ESPN
- KenPom Spread: Wisconsin (-3)
It’s weird to say but the Badgers have kind of underachieved this year.
In fairness, Wisconsin has rebounded from a difficult 2017-’18 season to be only a few games behind the Big Ten leaders in the race for conference supremacy and are easily cruising back into the NCAA Tournament after a one-year absence from March’s madness.
And that, by most standards, would be more than enough to consider any campaign a successful one.
But Greg Gard has had a trio of talented players at his disposal all season, headlined by potential First-Team All-American forward Ethan Happ. You could argue that Wisconsin’s roster is deeper than Purdue’s, with more top-level talent than Michigan, and without the injury woes plaguing Michigan State. Yet here Wisconsin is, just a notch below those three programs.
The good news for the Badgers is that on Tuesday, it’ll get the scraps of what’s left from a tough Indiana Hoosiers season.
At 4-12 in the Big Ten, Indiana currently finds itself tied for 12th in the conference with Penn State and has back-to-back games against ranked opponents with tonight’s game against Wisconsin being followed by a visit from Michigan State.
It’s got to be incredibly disappointing for Indiana to go from NCAA Tournament consideration worthy to opening the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday as one of the Big Ten’s bottom-four teams, but here we are.
So can the Hoosiers find something to be excited about by pulling off the upset Tuesday night?
- Pick Against The Spread: Wisconsin
Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 17-19