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3/1 Big Ten Preview: PSU at Northwestern

Preview all of Wednesday’s Big Ten action.

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten has a solid slate on Wednesday, highlighted by a battle between Northwestern and Penn State in Evanston. Maryland will also go on the road to face Ohio State as well. Both games have postseason implications.

Let’s take a look at the schedule.

Game of the Day:

-Penn State Nittany Lions at Northwestern Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Northwestern by 3

It’s been an unusual season so far for both these teams. Neither program has enjoyed much historical success, but both found some this season. Penn State got off to a red hot start before cooling in conference play and Northwestern scored enough wins in February to guarantee itself a spot in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

That sets up an intriguing matchup on Wednesday night, as Penn State hopes to grab a valuable road win to boost its NCAA hopes and Northwestern hopes to take care of business at home. The Wildcats are in the NCAA field, but still have some goals on the table, including a fringe shot at a share of the Big Ten title. It will take a perfect finish for Northwestern to get there, starting with a win over Penn State on Wednesday night.

On the court, it’s going to be a battle of the guards. Penn State’s Jalen Pickett is playing at an All-American level and has carried the Nittany Lions in most of the team’s recent wins. On the other side, Boo Buie has been fantastic for Northwestern over the last few weeks as well and will certainly be hoping for a win on Senior Night. Buie’s challenge will be slowing down Pickett, who’s been a scoring machine as of late. It won’t be an easy task.

The clash of styles on Wednesday night should also be interesting. While Penn State boasts a top 20 offense, Northwestern enters with a top 25 defense. The Nittany Lions led the nation in offensive turnover rate and rank among the top 10 in three-point percentage. The Wildcats will have their work cut out in slowing them down. It also gives both sides an opportunity on the other side of the court. Northwestern’s offense and Penn State’s defense have been relatively underwhelming this season. Take care of business there and it could easily decide the outcome.

All told, Penn State has enough to hang here. However, home court and the recent missteps by Northwestern should make the Wildcats really hungry here. As such, they’re the pick.

  • Pick: Northwestern

The Rest:

-No. 21 Maryland Terrapins at Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Maryland by 2

February couldn’t have been more different for these two teams, as Maryland used it as a launching point for the NCAA Tournament and Ohio State collapsed into an irrelevant Big Ten bottom feeder. The Terps rose while the Buckeyes fell. And it sets up the teams with vastly different emotions heading into the final week of the regular season. As Maryland competes for a Big Ten title, Ohio State finds itself playing for nothing but pride.

Still, Ohio State has shown potential this season and did as recently as Sunday, as the Buckeyes shocked Illinois and took down the Illini by double-digits. Ohio State’s offense remains solid and Brice Sensabaugh is still as talented as ever. And that will be Maryland’s top goal on Wednesday night. If the Terps can slow down the Buckeye freshman, a win seems pretty likely as Ohio State doesn’t have an obvious answer to Jahmir Young.

Overall, Ohio State has enough to hang here, but Maryland is clearly the better team. If the Terps play up to their potential, this should be a win.

  • Pick: Maryland


Picks Record: 89-37-0