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11/17 Big Ten Preview: Maryland at Villanova

Preview all of Friday’s Big Ten action.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Media Days Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten has a loaded slate on Friday, with seven teams in action, including multiple marquee opportunities. The biggest games will feature Michigan State and Maryland in the 2023 Gavitt Tipoff Games.

Let’s take a look at the schedule.

Game of the Day:

-Maryland Terrapins at No. 21 Villanova Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 8:30 PM ET (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Villanova

If Michigan State has been the Big Ten’s most disappointing team to date, Maryland isn’t far behind. The Terps entered this season with lofty expectations and fans were hoping for a serious run in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, the team has fallen flat so far, losing two of the its first three games, with both losses coming against mid-major opponents over the weekend.

It’s still a little too early to know whether these are early hiccups or signs of bigger issues. Either way, Maryland needs to get back on track, and quickly. Otherwise, things could easily spiral as the schedule gets more difficult.

Those efforts will begin on Friday with a road trip to face a ranked Villanova squad. But while the Wildcats are ranked, they haven’t looked particularly great so far. In fact, Villanova is also coming off a loss to a mid-major opponent, as the team fell short against Penn on Monday night. It’s why the spread is so close, even with Maryland’s early season struggles.

In many ways, this will be a clash of styles as Villanova is led by its offense and Maryland relies on staunch defense to get the job done. The key for the Terps is going to be limiting opportunities from deep and limiting the backcourt of Mark Armstrong and Justin Moore. The latter has made the most impact so far this season. Keeping him off balance will be key.

Of course, the strength-on-strength matchup makes the other side of the floor a complete wildcard for both teams. Maryland has struggled to find its offensive identity so far this season and this is a major opportunity to get back on track. The pressure will be on Jahmir Young to get his teammates involved, especially freshman DeShawn Harris-Smith. If he can do that, a win’s on the table.

This generally feels like a game that will go down to the final minutes. Maryland has enough defense to hang around. It will just come down to whether the Terps can find some offensive stability. At this point, it seems like there will be a few too many hiccups to get the win.

  • Pick: Maryland

The Rest:

-Butler Bulldogs at No. 18 Michigan State Spartans

  • Time/TV: 6:30PM ET (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan State by 8

It hasn’t been a great start to the season for the Spartans. Despite sky high preseason expectations, Michigan State has struggled to find its footing, especially on the offensive side of the floor. The Spartans now find themselves sitting at 1-2 through three games.

Fans will hope the tides turn on Friday as Michigan State returns home to face a Butler squad in transition. The Bulldogs are in their second season under Thad Matta and are trying to get back on track after a few down seasons. In many ways, Butler is like Michigan State, with a solid defense and an inconsistent offense.

The matchup to watch will be on the wing where Michigan State tries to slow down Pierre Brooks and Jahmyl Telfort. It figures to be a key opportunity for Malik Hall and Coen Carr to pick up after some mixed play. This feels like a game where Michigan State will exorcise some of its early season demons.

  • Pick: Michigan State

-Morehead State Eagles at Penn State Nittany Lions

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET (Peacock)
  • KenPom Spread: Penn State by 12

The Nittany Lions have gotten offer to a respectable start this season, jumping out to 3-0 against some overmatched opponents. Kanye Clary has arguably been the most encouraging piece and fans will hope they can keep things rolling against another underwhelming opponent on Friday night. Morehead State is a flawed squad and ranked 216th on KenPom. The key player to watch is Riley Minix. We’ll see if Penn State’s frontcourt can slow him down.

  • Pick: Penn State

-Robert Morris Colonials at Wisconsin Badgers

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET (BTN+)
  • KenPom Spread: Wisconsin by 22

The Badgers are coming off two tough losses, including a lackluster effort against Providence on the road on Tuesday. Fortunately, the team will get a significantly easier opponent this time around with Robert Morris on Friday. The Colonials are an underwhelming opponent and ranked just 277th on KenPom. Wisconsin should be able to cruise in this one, as long as the Badgers can slow down Justice Williams.

  • Pick: Wisconsin

-Long Beach State Beach at Michigan Wolverines

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET (BTN+)
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan by 15

It’s been an exciting start for Wolverine fans. After a season filled with disappointment, Michigan hit the ground running, and enters Friday with a perfect 3-0 record. The team will now return home, hoping to get a win over a relatively solid Long Beach State squad. The Beach may only enter Friday at 1-2, but they team went 17-16 last year and presently sits 123rd on KenPom, which is right around the range of a lower end power conference team.

The key for Michigan is going to be slowing down Marcus Tsohonis in the backcourt. He’s dominated the ball for the Beach so far this season. It’s a key opportunity for Nimari Burnett to make an impact. All told, Michigan should have the firepower to grab a win, especially at home.

  • Pick: Michigan

-Valparaiso Beacons at No. 23 Illinois Fighting Illini

  • Time/TV: 8:00PM ET (BTN+)
  • KenPom Spread: Illinois by 26

This one shouldn’t take much analysis. Illinois enters this game as a substantial favorite and should be able to cruise to a win here. Valpo isn’t just one of the worst teams in the Missouri Valley Conference, it’s probably one of the worst squads in the country. They will have no answer to Illinois’ pieces. This is a great opportunity for Illinois to put its loss to Marquette in the rear view mirror.

  • Pick: Illinois

-Arkansas State Red Wolves at Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Time/TV: 8:00PM ET (BTN+)
  • KenPom Spread: Iowa by 16

The Hawkeyes enter Friday coming off a tough loss on the road against Creighton on Tuesday night. Iowa’s offense looked solid in the showing, but the team couldn’t get enough stops to beat the Bluejays. Hawkeye fans are hoping the team can get back on track against a far easier opponent in Arkansas State at home on Friday night.

This game should be an Iowa win. The key will be getting enough stops against Taryn Todd in the backcourt and Freddy Hicks on the wing. Arkansas State has a fairly respectable offense, so this should be a decent test for Iowa’s defense.

  • Pick: Iowa


Picks Record This Season: 22-5