The Big Ten has had an increasingly rough start to the season.
What began as a potential two-horse race between Purdue and Michigan State, the two teams with the most returning talent, has become another likely runaway league title from the Boilermakers.
It’s already December and a majority of the league’s quality wins belong to Matt Painter’s squad. The nonconference slate will come to a close this month with a few highlights and a ton of buy games. Tuesday’s slate is a bit of a sleepy one, let’s get into it.
Game of the Day
IUPUI Jaguars at Minnesota Golden Gophers
- Time/TV: 8 p.m. on Big Ten Plus
- KenPom spread: Gophers by 21
I’ve made this Tuesday’s game of the day because of the interesting situation Minnesota is in. They’ve competed for the most part against the likes of Mizzou and Ohio State and managed to beat a better-than-usual Nebraska team already.
The Gophers may not resoundingly overperform preseason expectations but it’s not the absolute tire fire many saw coming ahead of the season minus the collapse against the Tigers.
For now they’re still a top-100 KenPom team, which is a lot more than last year’s squad could say when the season finished.
IUPUI is decidedly horrible. The Jaguars are all the way down at No. 355 in KenPom with a 3-7 record including losses to Elon and Winthrop alongside an overtime win against NAIA Cleary.
This is a confidence builder and a chance to get some real minutes for the bench ahead of conference play if Ben Johnson plays his cards right. It should by all means be a blowout... but weird things happen in The Barn sometimes.
- Pick: Gophers
Alcorn State Braves at Maryland Terrapins
- Time/TV: 7 p.m. on BTN
- KenPom spread: Terps by 18
So remember what I said about the situation Minnesota is in? Same could be applied here but I wouldn’t say there’d be serious hot seat chatter, at least not this season.
Maryland is off to a disappointing start based on preseason projections. The Terps went 0-2 in Asheville against two mid-majors, were soundly defeated by an inconsistent Villanova team and got thoroughly handled by Indiana in their Big Ten opener.
They scraped by against Penn State at home in overtime, but that’s not likely to inspire confidence. Maryland lacks outside shooting and an answer on offense outside of Jahmir Young and Julian Reese.
The offense looks lost for sustained periods of time and lets teams hang around if not race out to impossible to overcome leads. The defense is top-20 in efficiency thanks to all the length and experience, but that’s about all the team has going for it at the moment.
Kevin Willard needs to figure this thing out before the end of the month and it’ll have to start with wins over Alcorn State and Nicholls State before a trip to future conference member UCLA.
- Pick: Maryland