The Big Ten has two games on Thursday night and both come with their fair share of NCAA Tournament implications. Iowa will go on the road to face an Indiana team coming off a marquee win on Saturday and Ohio State will host Penn State.
Let’s take a look at today’s Big Ten action.
Game of the Day:
-No. 20 Iowa Hawkeyes at Indiana Hoosiers
- Time/TV: 9:00PM (ESPN)
- KenPom Spread: Indiana (-1)
Talk about two teams heading into a game with confidence. Despite some mixed performances in January, both Iowa and Indiana will head into Thursday’s game coming off marquee victories. Iowa knocked off Michigan at home on Friday night and Indiana went on the road and beat Michigan State in East Lansing on Saturday.
And while Thursday’s game is more significant for Indiana, it’s a pretty important game for both sides. The Hoosiers are desperately trying to move on the right side of the NCAA bubble after a horrific January and the Hawkeyes are trying to lock up an NCAA bid and keep the team’s hopes of a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament alive.
For Indiana, this begins what is sort of a “last stand” of sorts. Yes, it’s only February, but the Hoosiers don’t have a schedule that will be conducive to a last season run. Indiana gets three of its last seven on the road and three of the four home games come against Michigan State, Purdue, and Wisconsin. Simply put, picking up wins isn’t exactly going to be easy.
But the next two games are at home for the Hoosiers and both are winnable. Indiana gets Iowa on Thursday night and Ohio State on Sunday. Again, it’s still early, but it’s hard to imagine the Hoosiers getting an at-large bid without at least splitting (and likely winning) these next two games, given the upcoming schedule.
So, yeah, it’s kind of an important game for Indiana.
And on the other side, Iowa is looking to build off that marquee upset win over Michigan last Friday night. The Hawkeyes are on the right side of the bubble, but these are the kind of games where the team can remove all doubt. Iowa also has a favorable upcoming schedule, so this could help the team get off to a great run heading into March.
The matchup to watch will be upfront. Juwan Morgan was injured last week, but is expected to play on Thursday night. The Hoosiers will need him to slow down Luka Garza.
- Pick Against the Spread: Iowa
-Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio State Buckeyes
- Time/TV: 7:00PM (ESPN)
- KenPom Spread: Ohio State (-8)
Given Penn State’s struggles this season, it’s a pretty safe assumption to say that this game isn’t going to get a ton of national attention. The Nittany Lions are 1-10 in Big Ten play and will be significant underdogs on the road against Ohio State. This isn’t exactly projected to be the primetime thriller for fans across the nation.
Nonetheless, this is an important game for Ohio State, as the team still has work to do to secure its NCAA at-large resume. The Buckeyes have also struggled recently against Penn State, which should add a little more intrigue for this one. The Nittany Lions have won three-straight against Ohio State and have gone 4-5 against the Buckeyes since 2014. That’s a pretty remarkable performance in light of Penn State’s inconsistency.
As is generally the case for Ohio State, expect this one to come down to how Kaleb Wesson performs. The Buckeyes need him to have a solid game on Thursday, but he will have his hands full with Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins down low.
- Pick Against the Spread: Penn State
Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 52-46-3