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12/6 Big Ten Preview: Illinois and Iowa Participate in the Jimmy V Classic

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

The Big Ten is back in action tonight with a pair of conference schools taking place in the Jimmy V Classic while Maryland heads west to Wisconsin for a conference showdown.

Game of the Night

#17 Illinois Fighting Illini vs #2 Texas Longhorns

  • Jimmy V Classic
  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET ESPN
  • Line: Texas -4.0

The Illini lost their conference opener to Maryland after a dreadful shooting night from beyond the arc. They’ll have another difficult task tonight when they tip off against the second ranked Texas Longhorns.

Texas is 6-0 with a pair of top ten wins over Gonzaga and Creighton. Of course that Gonzaga team then got blown out by Purdue while Creighton followed their loss to Texas with a home loss to lowly Nebraska. The Longhorns have a dynamic backcourt with Tyrese Hunter leading the team with 16 points per game. A familiar face for Big Ten fans, former Minnesota guard Marcus Carr is averaging 15.5 points and 4.2 assists per game. Something of note, the two guards are shooting around 37% from three while no one else in the rotation is shooting better than 31.8% (the team is 28.9% overall).

The Illini have a potential star in Terrence Shannon Jr., but the offense hasn’t quite pieced things together past Shannon. Until the rest of the rotation solidifies the Illini will be good, but their ceiling is limited. Texas has a more balanced attack, especially in their backcourt, and more weapons that should help them remain undefeated.

Pick: Texas

The Rest

#13 Maryland Terrapins at Wisconsin Badgers

  • Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET ESPN2
  • Line: Even

Maryland will look to improve to 2-0 in conference play after winning their league opener against Illinois. The Terps are sitting at 8-0 and have climbed all the way up to 13th in the rankings. Last time out they took advantage of the Illini shooting 5 of 20 from three on their way to a narrow victory.

Wisconsin has looked a bit better offensively the past two weeks, losing to Wake Forest by three (but scoring 75 points) and winning 80-77 in overtime on the road at Marquette. Maryland has been humming alone but winning in the Big Ten on the road, especially in Madison, is very difficult. If the Badgers can continue their recent offensive success thanks to Chucky Hepburn they should be able to give the Terps their first loss of the season.

Pick: Wisconsin

Iowa Hawkeyes at #15 Duke Blue Devils

  • Jimmy V Classic
  • Time/TV: 9:30 PM ET ESPN
  • Line: Duke -3.0

In the second game of the Jimmy V Classic the Hawkeyes will square off against the 15th ranked Duke Blue Devils. Iowa is on the verge of being ranked, though their best win is either Seton Hall or Georgia Tech.

Once again led by a Murray, this time Kris, the forward is averaging 21 points and 10.6 rebounds per game while shooting 40.5% from three. The Hawkeyes are shooting 47.1% from the field and scoring 86.4 points per game, important as they have the 76th best defense per KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency ratings. Of course a bad defense and good offense has became a staple under head coach Fran McCaffery.

Duke is ranked 17th offensively and 28th defensively, so they should be more than capable of scoring against the Hawkeyes. It’s been an up and down season for new head coach Jon Scheyer, who has wins against Ohio State, BC and Xavier...but was blown out by Purdue, lost a tight game to Kansas and struggled with Bellarmine and Oregon State. Duke is the more talented team, but they haven’t been consistent early this season and have struggled shooting from the perimeter.

Tonight is the third game Duke has played against a Big Ten opponent in the first month of the season and tonight’s outcome will likely come down to who can play the best defensively. Both of these teams will score, but Iowa’s defensive woes prove problematic and Duke should be more than capable enough to pick up another win.

Pick: Duke