The Big Ten has two games on Thursday night, highlighted by an intriguing matchup between Michigan and Iowa. Fans will also get to enjoy an early game between Minnesota and Penn State.
Let’s take a look at the slate.
Game of the Day:
-Michigan Wolverines at Iowa Hawkeyes
- Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET (ESPN)
- KenPom Spread: Iowa by 6
This is one of those matchups that doesn’t pop out on first glance, but is actually pretty intriguing. While Michigan enters the game coming off a loss to Ohio State, the team arrives in Iowa City with some serious momentum, having won six of nine. In fact, TRank has Michigan playing at a top 20 level since mid-January. And, on the other side, Iowa enters on the verge of a top 25 ranking having won three straight.
The matchup itself will likely rest on Michigan’s backcourt. Hunter Dickinson is more than capable of holding his own down low against the Hawkeyes, but it’s hard to see how DeVante’ Jones and Eli Brooks are going to be able to stop Iowa’s electric guards in Jordan Bohannon and Joe Toussaint. It’s been a major problem for the Wolverines this season and likely won’t get much better against one of the league’s best offensive units.
Michigan also has the challenge of trying to slow down Keegan Murray, who’s been one of the nation’s most prolific scorers this season. Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate will likely matchup against Murray, but neither are natural fits to guard him. Expect Brandon Johns to also factor in against Murray.
Both teams are going to get some great scoring opportunities on Thursday night. However, considering how Iowa’s played at home and its perimeter scoring attack, it’s unclear whether Michigan will be able to keep up in a shootout. The x-factor may very well be Houstan, who’s shown explosive production at times. If he can get going from three, perhaps he can keep Michigan in this thing. Otherwise, it looks like an Iowa win.
- Pick: Iowa
-Minnesota Golden Gophers at Penn State Nittany Lions
- Time/TV: 4:00 PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Penn State by 5
This figures to be an odd game for a multitude of reasons, but namely the early tip time and the fact these teams played each other just five days ago. Saturday’s matchup went in Minnesota’s favor, with the Gophers scoring a 76-70 win. Payton Willis led the way with 18 points.
Expect another grind it out game that rides largely on how well Jamison Battle and Willis perform against Penn State’s defense. However, given the change of venue and Penn State’s win over Michigan State on Tuesday night, this seems like a great opportunity for the Nittany Lions to win a second straight game. And as we’ve seen over the last few years (look no further than Michigan and Purdue a week ago), a rematch scheduled so closely almost always benefits the loser of the first game. Here, that’s Penn State. We’ll see if that trend holds up on Thursday afternoon.
- Pick: Penn State