There are four Big Ten games scattered throughout the day, with a trio of buy games closed out by a rivalry showdown between Illinois and Missouri.
Game of the Day
- Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET SEC Network
- Line: Illinois -5.5
In the Braggin’ Rights rivalry, Missouri and Illinois will highlight the day with a game late night on the SEC Network. The Illini won last year by 25, ending a three game skid against Missouri. The Illini also lead the series 33-19.
Illinois has had an up and day season that has been a bit of a roller coaster. While they turned heads with a win over UCLA, they followed it with a loss to Virginia. They had a road loss to Maryland, but followed it with an overtime win over a Texas team that was ranked second...only to follow it with a 15 point home loss to Penn State. That has left the Illini at 0-2 in conference play and in need of a win tonight.
Their opponent is 10-1, though they’ve played a number of not particularly great teams close. They also have a 28 point loss to Kansas earlier in the month. KenPom ranks Missouri as the 13th best offense, but their defense ranks 147th. That’s problematic as they’re set to face an Illinois team with a solid offense and highly competent defense.
Illinois could use someone to fully emerge past star Terrence Shannon Jr., but they also have six different players averaging 8-9.8 points per game in a strength by numbers approach.
The Illini have been the better team as of late and Missouri could be a solid team this year but they haven’t proved they have the defense to take care of business against a team like Illinois. It should be close throughout, but look for the Illini to win their 34th game in the series.
Chicago State Cougars at Minnesota Golden Gophers
- Time/TV: 1:00 PM ET
- Line: Minnesota -13.0
It feels weird that Minnesota is only a 13 point favorite today against Chicago State, but then again Iowa did just lose to Eastern Illinois. The week heading into Christmas is sometimes a weird week for buy games, with most students off of campus and the players likely not entirely focused on basketball. Nonetheless Chicago State is a sub 300 KenPom team with a 3-11 record that has historically been awful and already lost at Northwestern by 31 points.
Minnesota ended a five game losing streak with a win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff last time out. The team has struggled pretty heavily past forward Jamison Battle and transfer Dawson Garcia and that could prove problematic during conference play. That being said, they should be perfectly fine today against the Cougars.
Quinnipiac Bobcats at Penn State Nittany Lions
- Time/TV: 4:30 PM ET BTN
- Line: Penn State -15.0
Penn State bounced back from a pair of losses with a 15 point road win at Illinois and a home win over Canisius. The Nittany Lions have showcased a surprisingly competent offense so far this season, ranked 25th in adjusted offensive efficiency ratings. Shooting 41.5% from three and averaging 76.7 points per game, Penn State might have one of their better offenses in awhile. With their top five scorers being guards, and four of those guards shooting at least 44% from three, they’ve been an entertaining team to watch through the first two months,
Their opponent is a Quinnipiac team that is 9-3 but hasn’t played much of anyone so far this season. KenPom pencils them in at 182nd with an adjusted offense rating just outside the top 200. With four players averaging 10.3-11.3 points per game, the Bobcats distribute scoring pretty evenly. Shooting only 60.7% from the line and committing about 14 turnovers per game could prove problematic if they manage to keep the game close today.
Penn State’s offense has been rolling and they should continue to do so this afternoon.
Pick: Penn State
Saint Peter’s Peacocks at Maryland Terrapins
- Time/TV: 6:30 PM ET BTN
- Line: Maryland -21.5
The third game today has Saint Peter’s traveling to face Maryland. In a somewhat interesting tidbit, Maryland’s Kevin Willard was hired away from Seton Hall, who then hired Shaheen Holloway away from Saint Peter’s.
The Peacocks haven’t had that much success this year, going 6-5 and starting 1-2 in conference play. Saint Peter’s has an offense rated outside of the top 300 by KenPom and is shooting a lowly 39.5% from the field (31.1% from three).
Maryland’s 8-0 start has quickly came and gone after three straight losses. Of course those losses came at Wisconsin and against Tennessee and UCLA. Maryland might not be as good as some people were hoping, but there’s nothing that problematic about losing to any of those teams. Today gives Maryland a perfect opportunity to course correct before conference plays begins on the first.