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12/29 Big Ten Preview: Tuesday Double-Header

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Northwestern Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Another night of double-header action ensues tonight with Big Ten play. Just like last night’s offering, it’s another AP showdown, this one between top-20 teams in the feature game of the night.

Game of the Day:

-No. 19 Northwestern Wildcats vs. No. 10 Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Time/TV: 9:00 p.m. EST (FS1)

Even a week ago, how many of you expected this game to be a top-20 matchup? Put your hand down you liar, because you certainly did not think that was going to happen! Yet here we are in this strange year that is 2020 where Northwestern is 3-0 and tied at the top of the Big Ten currently heading into a matchup with 1-1 in Big Ten play Iowa.

The Wildcats are surprising folks big time this season so far. NU not only entered the AP top-25 this week, they jumped straight into the top-20 at No. 19. Buoyed by an average of 85.3 points per game, 30th overall in the country, they are lighting it up on the offensive end. Meanwhile on the defensive side, NU is allowing just 62.3 points per game, good for 49th overall.

Miller Kopp was the hot hand against Ohio State with 23 points, and is averaging a team high 15.1 points per game on 55 percent shooting from the field. Meanwhile, Boo Buie is second on the team in scoring with 14.4 points per game and shooting lights out from deep at 50 percent from three-point range.

Meanwhile Iowa is obviously led by Luka Garza. Despite going just 11-27 from the field Friday, Garza still finished with 32 points in the loss to Minnesota last Friday. Overall, Garza is averaging 28.8 points per game on 62.7 shooting from the field combined with 10 rebounds per game. Joe Wieskamp is second in scoring on the team with 15.8 points per game on 42.9 percent shooting from three-point range, 49 percent from the field, and 6.9 boards per game. CJ Frederick is the third-leading scorer and only other on the team in double-figures with 104. points per game on 55 percent shooting from three-point range.

While the Hawkeyes are still third in KenPom’s offensive adjusted rankings, defense continues to be an issue for them as the team gives up an average 74.1 points per game. That puts them back at 249th in Division 1.

Interestingly, Iowa is averaging just 9.6 turnovers per game, or just 12.7 percent of possessions which is third-best in the country. Northwestern is 270th in forcing turnovers. The Wildcats may need to look for ways to change that to have any hope in this game if Iowa isn’t having an uncharacteristic night shooting.

Can Northwestern keep its bottled lightning going, or is the flame running out on the current winning streak? Can Iowa snap out of its funk at avoid another loss, or will poor defense continue to plague them against a hot-shooting Wildcats squad?

  • Pick: Iowa

The Rest:

-Purdue Boilermakers vs. No. 14 Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Time/TV: 7:00 p.m. EST (FS1)

The 7-3 Boilermakers come into this one following a week featuring a loss at Iowa and win over Maryland. Meanwhile, Rutgers is 6-1 with last week’s sole game featuring a 12 point loss at Ohio State. While still early in the season, the Boilermakers certainly hope to find an upset road win while Rutgers needs the home win to stay in contention for a shot at a Big Ten title.

Purdue’s Trevion Williams leads in both scoring and rebounds with 13.4 points and 9.5 boards per game. Williams actually features the 7th best offensive rebounding rate and 30th best defensive boards rate in D1 basketball. Meanwhile, three other players are averaging double-figures in scoring for Purdue. However, Purdue struggles in scoring on the road. In its two true road games, the Boilermakers have scored exactly 54 and 55 points in each. Facing the No. 15 ranked defense per KenPom metrics on their home court is going to be difficult for Purdue.

Meanwhile Rutgers is led in scoring by Ron Harper Jr’s 23.4 points per game, while Jacob Young (15.9) and Montez Mathis (14.3) round out the double-digit scorers for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers is averaging 84.4 points per game in its last five matchups at the RAC, while holding opponents to just 70.2 points. Purdue will need to take care of the ball as well as the Boilermakers are averaging 13.8 turnovers per game while Rutgers is getting 7.4 steals per game.

This one should potentially be a tough matchup if Purdue can find a way to score on the road. However, Rutgers has enough here they should avoid the upset at home and move forward with their schedule. Then again, it is still 2020 and nothing seems certain or predicable.

  • Pick: Rutgers