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3/3 Big Ten Preview: BTN Double Header

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Nebraska Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

There are two games tonight, with Penn State hosting Minnesota and Northwestern hosting Maryland.

Game of the Night

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Penn State Nittany Lions

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET BTN

At one point this season Minnesota was ranked and looked like an NCAA Tournament team. Now thanks to a 2-8 stretch since their win over Michigan, the Gophers are not only on the outside looking in, but there’s been plenty of chatter about Richard Pitino potentially on his way out. Even if the Gophers can win here at Penn State and then knock off Rutgers it’ll likely still take a run in the Big Ten Tournament to reenter the bubble picture.

Interestingly Penn State has some decent computer numbers, ranking 51st in NET rankings and 40th in the KenPom rankings. They’re still sitting five games under .500, keeping them out of the postseason (and probably the NIT). The Nittany Lions, like Minnesota last year, have more or less been right there all season. For whatever reason they just can’t win close games, losing by single digits to Seton Hall, at Michigan, at Indiana, at Purdue, at Ohio State, at Michigan State, Nebraska and at Iowa. For every close game they’ve had Penn State just hasn’t been able to pick up enough wins.

So while Minnesota may have the better record the Nittany Lions actually enter the game favored, especially with this taking place at home. It should be noted that they were also favored at home against Purdue and lost by 21 points, but Purdue is a bit better than Minnesota.

Marcus Carr dropped 41 against Nebraska and is trying to single handedly carry the Gophers. Can he get some help? The inconsistency in the backcourt away from Carr has been an issue all year and it’s only been more prominent with Gabe Kalscheur missing time due to a broken finger. Penn State has struggled to win close games, but it’s starting to look like Minnesota is in freefall mode as the season comes to a close.

It’s going to take a massive effort from Carr for Minnesota to get a win tonight. Penn State won’t let Carr drop 41 on them and will find a way to win a close one tonight.

Pick: Penn State

The Rest

Maryland Terrapins at Northwestern Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET BTN

Maryland has gotten hot at that right time, with a five game winning streak getting them from 10-10 (4-9) and out of the tournament to 15-10 (9-9) and in the tourney. Sitting at around a nine seed, it would likely take a loss tonight, a home loss to Penn State and an early Big Ten Tournament exit to put that in doubt. Even more so after realizing that they just beat Rutgers (currently in) and Michigan State (depends who you ask).

Northwestern ended a thirteen skid with a surprising win at Minnesota. That win likely sealed the deal on Minnesota missing the tournament and the Wildcats would love to cause some mayhem for Maryland. Of course Northwestern will need to play better tonight, as they shot 42.2% from the field, 38.9% from three and committed 19 turnovers in their win over Minnesota. It’s less likely the Wildcats will also have a 27-10 free throw advantage today.

Maryland has won five straight against Northwestern, with the Wildcats not winning against the Terps since 2017. Will that change tonight? It’s possible, playing on the road is hard in the Big Ten, but Maryland is rolling and should get past Northwestern tonight.

Pick: Maryland