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3/2 Big Ten Preview: Rutgers Faces Indiana In Bubble Showdown

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

In tonight’s action there is a doubleheader airing on BTN, including an important game for a pair of teams currently on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament.

Game of the Night

Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Indiana Hoosiers

Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET BTN

Rutgers roared back onto the bubble scene with a four game win streak over Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Illinois. They also had a win over Iowa and Purdue, slightly making up for a high number of losses, included a few clunkers against Lafayette and Massachusetts that tanked their NET ranking. They couldn’t build off of that success, however, coming up short against Michigan and Wisconsin. Now likely on the outside looking in, tonight provides a perfect opportunity for the Knights to reenter the picture...while a loss could send them packing.

On the flipside is an Indiana team that would probably be a lock if they could just close out games. While tonight’s game isn’t do or die for the Hoosiers, especially with a game at Purdue this weekend, a win here and a win or two in the Big Ten Tournament would likely seal the deal. If the Hoosiers want to return to the postseason in Mike Woodson’s first season, a win tonight would go a long way.

The emergence of Xavier Johnson and (at times) Race Thompson has been huge for Indiana. Trayce Jackson-Davis has always been a stud inside, but he’s never had consistent production elsewhere on the court during his time in Bloomington. Indiana is at their best when they don’t have to exclusively rely on their big and they’ve started to see more success as of late because of this. Unfortunately, the Hoosiers absolutely collapsed at Ohio State in a game they should have won, then almost blew a massive second half lead to Minnesota. There are still areas for improvement.

Luckily for the Hoosiers, their opponent tonight tends to not play as good on the road. Rutgers is a great team defensively, and Ron Harper Jr. has been having a fantastic season, but the offense stutters and stalls to often to the point where it’s no surprise Rutgers is currently on the wrong side of the bubble. If they could get their offense rolling with any level of consistency they would be on their way to another postseason appearance.

So what happens tonight? Well, any momentum from that four game winning streak has slowly died out for Rutgers and Indiana knows they need a win tonight with no guarantee they’ll make it two in a row against Purdue. Indiana will allow Rutgers to hang around, but the offensive issues will once again cost the Scarlet Knights a win.

Pick: Indiana

The Rest

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Maryland Terrapins

Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET BTN

In the late game tonight Maryland is set to host Minnesota. The Terrapins ran away from Ohio State last weekend, beating the ranked Buckeyes by 15 points. Tonight they’ll look to win on Senior Night. As for the Gophers, they’ve gone 3-13 their last 16 games, including a one point loss to Wisconsin and a five point loss to Indiana in their last two games.

Maryland has been riding Fatts Russell’s hot hand, with the guard leading the team in scoring the past six games. The improved performance from the Terps backcourt has been big over a 3-3 stretch that almost included an upset over Purdue. The Gophers have came close to landing a few marquee wins, a nice sight after getting decimated by Ohio State and Penn State, but they still struggle to close out close games.

The Gophers lone road win in conference play this season came in December against Michigan. They won’t be ending that streak tonight.

Pick: Maryland