The Big Ten has a loaded slate on Sunday, featuring four games that all have postseason implications. The day also has a chance to shake up the Big Ten standings significantly, as Ohio State, Rutgers, and Purdue are all in action.
Let’s take a look at the schedule.
Game of the Day:
-No. 24 Ohio State Buckeyes at Maryland Terrapins
- Time/TV: 1:00PM ET (ESPN)
- KenPom Spread: Ohio State by 1
For most of college basketball, the season is a grind with a variety of ups and downs. And that’s certainly true for these two teams, who have seen their perspectives change continuously since the season tipped off. Each has grabbed some quality wins, but also suffered some severe missteps.
This all makes Sunday’s matchup particularly interesting. The teams are relatively balanced, so it could really swing each side’s resume heading into the the heart of Big Ten play.
On the court, Maryland’s biggest challenge will be slowing down Brice Sensabaugh, who has been on an absolute tear lately. It’s going to be a major challenge for Hakim Hart and Donta Scott to slow down the freshman forward. The backcourt battle should also be interesting as Jahmir Young hopes to bounce back after two underwhelming outings.
Stylistically, this should also be an interesting battle as Ohio State’s offense tangles with Maryland’s defense. Both units are impressive and are more than capable of keeping their respective teams in the game. Maryland’s perimeter shooting might be the biggest wildcard in the game. If the Terps can hit some shots deep, they have a great chance of grabbing a win. However, they seem to be on a cold streak, so Ohio State is the pick here.
- Pick: Ohio State
-Iowa Hawkeyes at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
- Time/TV: 12:00PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Rutgers by 8
After an incredible start to the week, Rutgers is hoping to grab one more win over a dangerous Iowa squad. A win here would push the Scarlet Knights into the top 25 and significantly boost the team’s rapidly rising Big Ten title hopes, especially if Ohio State and Purdue stumble in their matchups on Sunday. If Rutgers is going to elevate itself to the next level of college basketball, this is a game it needs to win.
Of course, Iowa has other thoughts about this game. The Hawks are hoping to win their second straight after surprising Indiana on Thursday night at home. That win ended a horrid skid for the team, which included losses to Eastern Illinois and Nebraska. Still, Kris Murray has been playing well and is good enough to lift the team to a win here.
The key matchup will be Iowa’s offense against Rutgers’ impressive defense, which only seems to be getting better recently. Keep an eye on Iowa’s backcourt. They need to find ways to initiate the offense if the team has any hope. Unfortunately for Hawkeye fans, Rutgers is probably too much here.
- Pick: Rutgers
-Northwestern Wildcats at No. 15 Indiana Hoosiers
- Time/TV: 12:00PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Purdue by 6
These teams enter Sunday in vastly different head spaces. While Northwestern is coming off an impressive win over in-state rival Illinois, Indiana comes in reeling after a loss to Iowa on Thursday and more injury news, as star forward Race Thompson got sidelined indefinitely. As such, the game presents as a key opportunity on both sides.
For Indiana, the key needs to be exploiting what should be a significant advantage upfront. Northwestern was already undermanned there, but will be playing short-handed after Luke Hunger went out with injury. If the Hoosiers can take advantage there, it should be enough to grab the win. Northwestern will hope to turn it into a perimeter game and utilize their depth and experience there. It should be an intriguing one.
- Pick: Indiana
-No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers at Penn State Nittany Lions
- Time/TV: 6:00PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Purdue by 5
This should be an interesting game for a few reasons. To start, the game’s venue should be a lot of fun as this one will be played in the Palestra in Philadelphia. Penn State played a similar game some time back and the environment was electric, so expect the same thing in this one on Sunday evening.
Additionally, the matchup itself looks like a lot of fun. While Purdue is clearly the superior team, the Boilermakers have shown hiccups here and there and the team’s defense is exploitable. Jalen Pickett has also been playing really well. If Purdue’s perimeter play isn’t at its best, Penn State can keep this one close. However, it might be asking too much.
- Pick: Purdue
Picks Record: 63-20-0