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12/20 Big Ten Preview: Northwestern Set to Host UIC

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Michigan State Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

There are three games tonight, with a double header on BTN being the main highlight of the night.

Game of the Night

UIC Flames at Northwestern Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET BTN
  • Line: Northwestern -15.5

This game may be the game of the night but there’s not much interest besides this being an in-state matchup between two schools from the state of Illinois. UIC is 8-4, but they don’t have any marquee wins and a handful of not particularly great losses. KenPom ranks them 247th in the nation with a slightly better defense compared to offense.

Northwestern is 8-2, entering tonight’s game on a three game winning streak that includes wins against Michigan State and DePaul. Statistically Northwestern currently has a top ten defense when looking at adjusted defensive efficiency ratings. That defense should be more than enough to carry the Wildcats to a win against a lowly Flames offense.

Pick: Northwestern

The Rest

Elon Phoenix at Indiana Hoosiers

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET BTN
  • Line: Indiana -28.0

Indiana has underwhelmed as of late, going 1-3 their last four games. Their 7-0 start fell apart with a 15 point road loss to Rutgers before losing back-to-back games against Arizona and Kansas. There’s no shame in losing to those teams, but losing by 14 and 22 respectively when many Indiana fans talked themselves into seeing the Hoosiers as a top ten team is never a good sign.

Luckily for the Hoosiers they don’t have much in the form of competition the rest of the year, with buy games against Elon and Kennesaw State this week. Elon is 343rd in the KenPom ratings and an absolutely dreadful team all around. I know it’s basketball, but there isn’t much to be excited about here as Indiana will likely cruise to a much needed easy victory.

Pick: Indiana

Queens University at Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Battle in the Vault
  • Time/TV: 7:30 PM ET

Nebraska will close out the inaugural Battle in the Vault at Pinnacle Bank Arena (get it?) tonight against Queens University. The event tips earlier in the day with Concordia and Oklahoma Wesleyan, followed by Mississippi State and Drake and then the nightcap.

Their opponent is Queens University, located in Charlotte and currently transitioning to Division I. The Royals are 9-2 with a schedule mix of lower division and D1 mid-majors, including wins over Marshall, Green Bay and Bowling Green.

Nebraska is 6-6 and riding a three game losing skid. The Cornhuskers did beat a top ten team on the road and went to overtime with Purdue, showing signs of improvement even if they’re still not there yet. Today’s game against Queens will be the last tune-up before Nebraska starts conference play against Iowa at the end of the month. This would be a catastrophic loss so expect Nebraska to not overlook their opponent and close out non-conference play with a win.

Pick: Nebraska