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2/1 Big Ten Preview: Michigan State at Maryland

Preview Tuesday’s Big Ten action.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Maryland vs Michigan Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Fans tonight have a three-game slate to choose from headlined by Michigan State visiting College Park.

Let’s take a look at the games.

Game of the Day:

-No. 13 Michigan State Spartans (16-4, 7-2) at Maryland Terrapins (11-10, 3-7)

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM EST (ESPN2)
  • ESPN Pick Center: Michigan State -4.5

The Spartans are in College Park tonight to take on the Terrapins. Last season saw Maryland snap a three-game winning streak by the Spartans in College Park in the lone regular season matchup before the Terps later for the season sweep by winning in the Big Ten Tournament as well. However, this season has seen an inconsistent and struggling Maryland squad under interim head coach Danny Manning. Meanwhile, the Spartans sit near the top of the league standings just behind Wisconsin and Illinois.

This game will likely be decided by Michigan State’s three-point shooting or its ability to outrebound the Terps. Michigan State has the size advantage down low combined with a good defense that the poor shooting team with lacking size that is Maryland is unlikely to outscore Michigan State on its own.

However, the Terrapins are good at shutting down the three-point shot. Maryland has allowed opponents to shoot 39 percent or better from outside just six times this season. MSU is only 4-5 when they shoot lower than that from outside. The Spartans are 12-0 when the team shoots 39 percent or higher, and the team shot 50 percent in wins over Michigan and Wisconsin, and over 40 percent in wins over Nebraska and Minnesota in recent weeks.

Michigan State likely cannot afford a loss in this road matchup and still hope to be in contention for the Big Ten regular season league title. Maryland can rebound well and put pressure on the Spartans if shots aren’t falling. With a big name opponent like the Spartans coming to town, it is fair to expect this Terps squad to be looking for a tough game. However, MSU should have what it takes to get the job done and get back to the flight home from BWI with a win.

  • Pick: Michigan State

The Rest:

-Rutgers Scarlet Knights (12-8, 6-4) at Northwestern Wildcats (9-10, 2-8)

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM EST (Big Ten Network)
  • ESPN Pick Center: Rutgers -3.5

Rutgers continues a two-game road stand with a visit to Evanston tonight. The Scarlet Knights managed to stage a late rally after trailing for the entire game to avoid a bad loss at Nebraska on Saturday. NU, meanwhile, gave Illinois everything it could handle but still fell short in a three-point loss Saturday.

The Scarlet Knights struggle on offense on the road, but if Rutgers hopes to salvage any chance at a NCAA Tournament bid then the team can ill-afford a road loss at Northwestern. The Wildcats, meanwhile, are proving to be a tough team in most games. However, over the past 10 games RU is holding opponents to 9.5 points less per game than the Wildcats average, while the Scarlet Knights are scoring just 6.1 fewer points per game than NU holds opponents to.

  • Pick: Northwestern

-Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-10, 2-8) at Michigan Wolverines (10-8, 4-4)

  • Time/TV: 9:07 PM EST (Big Ten Network)
  • Tallysight Spread: Michigan -14.5

The Huskers visit Ann Arbor tonight for the second game this season against the Wolverines. In December, Michigan visited Lincoln and handed Nebraska its worst loss in Pinnacle Bank Arena history, defeating UNL 102-67. Nebraska is riding a 13-game conference losing streak dating back to last season. Michigan had a three-game win streak snapped Saturday at Michigan State and faces Purdue in West Lafayette this upcoming Saturday.

Nebraska’s best chance in this one is for its squad to have the first true shooting performance all-game long this season combined with catching a Michigan squad caught sleeping between two major games. The outlook doesn’t look promising for that to happen.

  • Pick: Michigan