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2/19 Big Ten Preview: Iowa at Northwestern

Preview all of Sunday’s Big Ten action.

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Big Ten has a nice slate of games on Sunday, highlighted by an evening matchup between Iowa and Northwestern in Evanston. Fans will also get to see Purdue and Maryland work to build their respective resumes.

Let’s take a look at the schedule.

Game of the Day:

-Iowa Hawkeyes at Northwestern Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 6:30 PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Northwestern by 1

A few weeks ago, Northwestern packed up and headed west to play Iowa. It was an important matchup for both sides and squeezed into the slate after some COVID-19 issues for Northwestern’s program. And while the game was competitive in the first half, it got completely out of hand in the second and Iowa cruised to a 16-point win.

However, just shy of three weeks later, things look substantially different.

While Iowa remains in decent shape, Northwestern has found its stride and is coming off one of the best four-game runs in program history. The Wildcats swept the games and impressively knocked off Purdue and Indiana over the last week. The win over the Boilermakers marked Northwestern’s first ever win over a No. 1 ranked team.

Northwestern’s recent success makes Sunday’s matchup particularly intriguing. KenPom favors the Wildcats, but only narrowly. And the general history of college basketball suggests Northwestern is probably due for a letdown. In short, it’s anyone’s guess who will come out on top in this one. Expect a tight game.

On the court, the matchup to watch will be on the wing where Northwestern tries to slow down Connor McCaffery, Kris Murray, and Payton Sandfort. The Iowa trio has slowed down a tad from their January peak, but are still the team’s bread and butter. Chase Audige and Robbie Beran will have their hands full.

All told, this feels like Iowa’s game to steal. Northwestern’s overdue for an underwhelming performance and the Hawkeyes seem like a bad matchup for the Wildcats, particularly because Northwestern lives and dies on getting stops and Iowa’s offense mitigates some of that. Buckle up and expect a tough one.

  • Pick: Northwestern

The Rest:

-Ohio State Buckeyes at No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers

  • Time/TV: 1:00 PM ET (CBS)
  • KenPom Spread: Purdue by 10

Like this game above, Sunday will be the second meeting between these two teams. However, while the second edition of Iowa-Northwestern feels more competitive than the first, Purdue-Ohio State feels like a mismatch. While these teams played a competitive game in early January, Ohio State has absolutely nosedived since then, losing 11 of the team’s last 12 games. Add in a Purdue team desperate to bounce back after a few rough outings and a hostile Mackey crowd and it’s hard to see Ohio State winning here.

If Ohio State is going to keep things close, it’s likely going to take a tremendous effort from the Buckeyes’ offense. Purdue has been a bit off in recent weeks. For example, the Boilers only went 2-of-13 from deep in the team’s double-digit loss to Maryland on Thursday. However, Ohio State doesn’t exactly have Maryland’s defense, ranking nearly 100 spots lower in defensive efficiency this season. Perhaps Ohio State can get a big game from Brice Sensabaugh, who went off for 21 points in the first meeting. Otherwise, this looks like a comfortable win for Purdue.

  • Pick: Purdue

-Maryland Terrapins at Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Time/TV: 5:00 PM ET (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Maryland by 4

Few would have expected this game to have much significance a month or two ago, but as we enter Sunday, both Maryland and Nebraska have a lot riding on this one. The Terps are trying to build their NCAA resume and keep their narrow Big Ten title hopes alive and Nebraska is hoping to each a key win in pursuit of its first postseason since 2019.

The matchup is largely going to be decided by Maryland’s offense and Nebraska’s defense, as the Huskers try and slow down Jahmir Young. This is the key not only because the Terps guard has been so productive this season, but also because Maryland’s offense lives and dies with him. Young eats up more than 30 percent of the team’s possessions himself and also has a top 10 assist rate in the league. In short, if Maryland’s making a bucket, odds are Young is contributing in one way or another. Slowing him down has to be Nebraska’s top priority.

Expect a physical and low scoring outing in this one. It figures to be a defensive battle. Nebraska has the pieces to win, but Maryland is more than comfortable to play a low scoring affair. As such, the Terps are the pick.

  • Pick: Maryland


Picks Record: 86-33-0