Today there are three conference games spread throughout the day on three different networks. Let’s take a look at the games.
Game of the Day
- Time/TV: 1:00 PM ET (CBS)
Indiana looks to win another big game in Bloomington while Maryland looks to make it three wins in a row.
The Hoosiers had a big game earlier in the week when they knocked off 11th ranked Michigan State. Jumping out to a 18-4 lead early, Indiana managed to hold on after the Spartans fought their way back into the game. Now the Hoosiers will look to avenge a 16 point loss to Maryland at the beginning of the month.
Last time these two teams faced Indiana was...Indiana. They shot 22.2% from three and 61.1% from the free throw line. That’s not exactly foreign as Indiana has been dreadful from three and converting from the line, making up for their poor free throw shooting by getting to the line more than most teams. Even in the win against Michigan State they couldn’t improve much here, shooting 33.3% from three and 55% from the line.
Indiana will try to get inside where they’re best while Maryland will try their best to force Indiana to beat them from outside. So who wins? On Maryland’s side is a stout defense that is 20th in the nation in scoring (61.0 points per game), 19th in field goal percentage and doesn’t send opposing teams to the line much. Fittingly the weakest element of their defense statistically is giving up the three ball, something Indiana can’t do. That success on defense has held up in the Big Ten, with Maryland giving up 60.9 points per game (1st in conference) while shooting 39.3% (4th) and only allowing 100 free throw attempts in eight games (1st).
The problem is Maryland is averaging a lowly 63.4 points per game. Probably because they’ve statistically been the conferences worst shooting team, made up by their ability to get to the line. Maryland's offense has been a mess but luckily for them they face an Indiana offense with problems of its own.
Indiana has the advantage of playing at Assembly Hall but one has to wonder if there will be a bit of a letdown from the Michigan State win. Maryland hasn’t been particularly good on the road, only winning one road game so far this season (Northwestern). Look for Maryland to find a way as they dare Indiana to beat them from deep and take advantage of the Hoosiers inability to hit from outside or convert from the line.
- Time/TV: 3:00 PM ET (FOX)
Minnesota managed to come from behind in Columbus and pick up a big win against the Buckeyes. Now the Gophers are starting to be penciled in at the back end of most NCAA Tournament brackets and they could be in position to turn things around. They also found a way to win without having to rely on Daniel Oturu, who was held to 11 points and 6 rebounds in 39 minutes. Unfortunately they now get to face Michigan State.
The Spartans got off to a horrible start in Bloomington, with Indiana jumping out to a 18-4 lead with 12:37 in the first half. Michigan State eventually got things turned around and made it a game before losing by four. Michigan State hasn’t been the best on the road, also getting demolished by Purdue and only winning at Northwestern by five. Last time Michigan State lost they returned with a solid win over Wisconsin and will look to do the same.
These two teams played earlier in the month and Michigan State surged past Minnesota in the second half. The key was keeping the Gophers backcourt in check, with Carr scoring 11 on 3 of 11 shooting. Gabe Kalscheur and Payton Willis couldn’t do much either, shooting 5 of 16 from the field while Minnesota was 25% from three and only got to the line eight times. Michigan State will need to replicate that strategy as Minnesota is most beatable when only Oturu is rolling. And while Michigan State has the personnel to do so, it remains to be seen if they can get over their woes on the road.
Everyone keeps losing on the road and eventually it’ll have to balance out. Teams have always struggled on the road in the Big Ten, but not to this level. Look for Tom Izzo’s Spartans to finally piece it together and find a way to win away from East Lansing against a strong Minnesota team.
Pick: Michigan State
- Time/TV: 6:30 PM ET (BTN)
The Buckeyes have been free falling as of late, going 1-6 since beating sixth ranked Kentucky. Now Ohio State will look to turn things around with a road trip to Evanston. While teams this year have been awful on the road, Northwestern is only 1-3 at home in conference play.
Last time out the Buckeyes looked to get things back on track before a 22 point second half cost them a winnable game against Minnesota. Kaleb Wesson went 1 of 10 from the field and the team struggled to slow down Marcus Carr. Interestingly enough, the Buckeyes were one of the few teams to actually slow down Daniel Oturu.
Luckily for Ohio State they are playing a Northwestern team with decisively fewer offensive weapons. The Wildcats did have a strong start against Maryland last time out before getting ran off the court 51-26 in the second half. Northwestern doesn’t have the offensive firepower to keep up with many teams in the conference, but luckily for them the Buckeyes have been going through an offensive slump as of late.
This is a game Northwestern could definitely win considering the funk Ohio State is in and the fact that it’s being played in Evanston. At the same time it’s hard to pick a Northwestern team that is overmatched talentwise. It might be another close one, but Ohio State finds a way to get it done.
Pick: Ohio State