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12/11 Big Ten Preview: Maryland Faces Tennessee

Preview all of Sunday’s Big Ten action.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten has a loaded slate on Sunday, highlighted by a marquee matchup between Maryland and Tennessee in New York. Fans will also get to enjoy a conference battle between Iowa and Wisconsin, among other matchups.

Let’s take a look at the schedule.

Game of the Day:

-No. 13 Maryland Terrapins vs. No. 7 Tennessee Volunteers

  • Time/TV: 4:30PM ET (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Tennessee by 6

Through eight games, it would have been hard to envision a better start for the Terps. The roared out of the gates, jumped out to an 8-0 record, and grabbed multiple marquee wins. By every general measure, things were rolling.

Well, at least until Tuesday.

Earlier this week, Maryland went on the road and lost its conference road game of the season, falling 64-59 to Wisconsin. It was a tough loss. Still, the program sitting in a good place heading into the last few weeks of non-conference play, which restarts on Sunday with a massive game against Tennessee in New York.

Like Maryland, the Vols have been fantastic to start the season. While Tennessee slipped up earlier, the team also enters Sunday with just one loss and a handful of marquee wins, including victories over Butler, Kansas, and USC. This has all the looks of a loaded squad and an elite seed in March.

The matchup will be largely decided by how Maryland’s offense performs against a loaded Tennessee defensive unit. KenPom ranks the Vols first nationally in defensive efficiency and it’s easy to see why. Opponents are routinely held in the 40s or 50s, including Kansas last month, who finished with 0.75 points per possession. This figures to be Jahmir Young’s biggest test of the season so far. He’s going to need to be excellent to pull things out.

All told, this should be a really fun battle. However, knocking off Tennessee looks like an overwhelming obstacle. It’s going to be a tall task.

  • Pick: Tennessee

The Rest:

-Prairie View A&M Panthers at Northwestern Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 2:00PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Northwestern by 17

There isn’t much to take out of this one. Northwestern faces off against a thoroughly overmatched opponent at home. The spread is significant and rightfully so. Expect an easy win for the Wildcats. Keep an eye on Luke Hunger, who played just a minute in the team’s road win over Michigan State last weekend.

  • Pick: Northwestern

-Wisconsin Badgers at Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Time/TV: 6:30PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Iowa by 6

It’s been a busy week for both sides already and things will stay that way on Sunday with a key conference clash in Iowa City. Wisconsin will go on the road and face off against the Hawkeyes in an important game for both sides. Both Wisconsin and Iowa enter the game off wins as the Badgers beat the Terps earlier this week and the Hawkeyes defeated arch-rival Iowa State at home on Thursday.

This is a game that looks oddly even on paper, though it projects as a clash of styles. While Iowa prides itself on offensive production, Wisconsin uses tough defense to get the job done. It makes Sunday’s game an interesting matchup. Can the Badgers slow down Iowa’s offense enough to get the win? We’ll have to wait and see. The matchup to watch will be on the wing between Kris Murray and Tyler Wahl.

  • Pick: Iowa

-Seton Hall Pirates at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Time/TV: 6:30PM ET (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Rutgers by 7

The annual rivalry game between Seton Hall and Rutgers returns on Sunday and it figures to be a fun edition of the series. Rutgers enters coming off a controversial loss to Ohio State earlier this week, when the Big Ten screwed up the closing minutes of the game. Fans will hope the Scarlet Knights can bounce back from the controversy with a win on Sunday.

Fortunately for fans, Seton Hall isn’t the Seton Hall of years past. This year’s squad is only 63rd on KenPom and enters the game having gone 1-3 in its last four. The team’s offense has also been problematic, barely breaking the top 100 nationally. Some of it has been uncertainty in the lineup. Regardless, that’s all good news for Rutgers, who’s been playing at a high level the last few weeks. As long as Rutgers’ defense shows up, this should be a win. It’s a major opportunity for Caleb McConnell to have a big outing.

  • Pick: Rutgers

-No. 23 Mississippi State Bulldogs at Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Time/TV: 8:30PM ET (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Mississippi State by 8

It’s been a rough start for the Gophers so far this season. Despite some preseason hopes, the team has fallen flat out of the gates. Minnesota now sits at 4-5 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten play following Thursday’s home loss to Michigan.

Minnesota will get one more chance to grab a marquee win before 2023 on Sunday at home against Mississippi State, who enters the game a perfect 8-0. The Bulldogs haven’t played a murderer’s row to get there, but have beaten quality Marquette and Utah squads. All told, while Minnesota might be able to keep things close early, it’s hard to see the Gophers hanging. Tolu Smith is the player to watch for the Bulldogs.

  • Pick: Mississippi State


Picks Record: 52-15-0