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1/21 Big Ten Basketball Preview: Illinois Hosts Rutgers

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

There are a pair of Big Ten games set to tip off early this afternoon before the NFL Playoffs kick off. Let’s take a look at the upcoming action.

Game of the Day

Rutgers Scarlet Knights at #14 Illinois Fighting Illini

  • Time/TV: 1:00 PM ET BTN
  • Line: Illinois -12.5

In the second game today the Illini will look to keep pace with Wisconsin and Purdue. They have a favorable matchup at home against a Rutgers team that is currently ranked by KenPom as the 235th best offense per his adjusted offensive efficiency ratings. Rutgers has a fantastic defense, but like recent years simply cannot shoot or score consistently.

Those offensive woes will likely prove problematic going up against a top ten offense in Illinois. The Illini have had no issue scoring and will have Terrence Shannon Jr. returning in a bench role today. It’ll be interesting to see how the team fares with Shannon, as several players have noticeably stepped up while he was suspended. Between Marcus Domask and Coleman Hawkins the Illini largely didn’t miss a beat, but Shannon has been out for several weeks so it remains to be seen how quickly they’ll get readjusted.

Today’s game provides a decent opportunity for the Illini as they’re at home and face a Rutgers squad that will likely struggle to keep pace. Illinois isn’t perfect at home, look no further than losing their last home game against Maryland. The last time these two teams played the Illini won by 18 at Rutgers. Today they should be capable of avoiding a second loss in a row at home.

Pick: Illinois

The Rest

Michigan State Spartans at Maryland Terrapins

Michigan State is looking to win their third game in a row today on the road against Maryland. A win today would be big for the Spartans who could make up some ground if they can knock off the Terps and then Wisconsin next weekend.

Maryland is looking to bounce back after a narrow loss at Northwestern. Jahmir Young once again had a big offensive performance, scoring 36 points for the Terps. The rest of the team could only muster up 33 points, something that has been an on going issue for Maryland this season. If they’re going to win today they’ll need a more rounded offensive performance from the rest of the team outside of Jahmir Young, who has largely carried Maryland so far this season.

Michigan State is 7-2 their past nine games and starting to turn the corner. Maryland has continuously struggled to produce offensively and that should give the Spartans the chance to pick up a rare Big Ten road win.

Pick: Michigan State