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Big Ten Basketball Previews: RIVALRY WEEKEND

The Crossroads Classic, plus Iowa with a tricky “neutral” site game.

wow how far we’ve come in a year, we’ve done such a great job
| Jenna Watson/IndyStar via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Your charge for these previews, writers:

  1. Invent a trophy for this rivalry game.
  2. Tell me why I should hate your rival.
  3. Predict the outcome of the game.

Saturday, December 18

#3 Purdue Boilermakers vs. Butler Bulldogs

11am | FOX | Purdue -15.5 | O/U 132.5

Crossroads Classic: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis

BoilerUp89: This isn’t a rivalry game. Purdue’s basketball rivals are Indiana, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Illinois. You should hate Indiana because Bobby Knight was and is an asshole. A win for Purdue.

Illinois Fighting Illini vs. St. Francis (PA) Red Flash

12pm | BTN | Line, Total not listed

Thump: Better not lose this one! All I care about is whether or not Curbelo can play in Braggin’ Rights on Wednesday.

Indiana Hoosiers vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1:30pm | FOX | ND -4 | O/U 138.5

Crossroads Classic: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis

Buffkomodo: Ahhhhh. A game not against cupcake university. Given Notre Dame’s last couple years though, you could be forgiven if you thought they were a cupcake anyway. Notre Dame’s record is quite confuzzling. 4-4. Losses to Saint Mary’s, Illinois (what up Thump), Boston College, and Texas A&M. Victories over nobody and…Kentucky?! Well, shit. This ought to be a game then.

In all reality, it is a great opportunity to see if the Hoosiers have learned from Wisconsin and Syracuse. Can Indiana prevent themselves from imploding? Will the guard play actually merit tournament consideration or will XJ just go bonkers again? Well, dear reader, tune in to find out! Me? I’ll be watching this game with a host of Irish fans, so should be fun! Oh, it’s my in-laws? Uhhhhhh….well…..shit.

Northwestern Wildcats vs. DePaul Blue Demons

2pm | BTN | Line | Total

This has been canceled due to COVID within the DePaul program. Get well quickly, Blue Demons. We’ll win the Key next year.

  1. There’s already a rivalry trophy for this one—the coveted Mayor’s Key!
  2. Buncha smug cheaters, DePaul. Play your basketball games on campus, cowards! Also Max Strus was the most irritating non-B1G player I’ve watched in the last 5 years.
  3. This one will be tough. DePaul can score in bunches, and they saw off Rutgers in McCormick Place earlier this year; their only loss is to Loyola in a 68-64 squeaker. Javon Freeman-Liberty will give the ‘Cats backcourt headaches, but the Blue Demons run a really short bench. We’ll see if Northwestern’s learned how to win a close one yet.

Virginia Commonwealth Rams vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

2:30pm | NBCSN | Line | Total

This has also been canceled. This one due to COVID within the Penn State program.

Rider Broncs at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

4pm | BTN | Rutgers -17 | O/U 131

This game is still happening, though sandwiched between all the COVID cancellations you’re fine to just ignore it. Nope, never mind.

#15 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. #21 Kentucky Wildcats

4:15pm | CBS | Line | Total

CBS Sports Classic: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas

MaximumSam: COVID comes for everyone.

Michigan Wolverines vs. Southern Utah Thunderbirds

6pm | BTN | Mich -14 | O/U 142

MNW: “Michigan” is actually drawn from the Algonquian word for “Great Horned Serpent,” the mortal enemy of the Thunderbird in their mythology. It’s only natural that these two meet on the hardwood. No trophy needed here; the Thunderbird protecting Earth from the Serpent is reward enough.

Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Utah State Aggies

8pm | BTN | Iowa -4 | O/U 152.5

Sanford Pentagon, Sioux Falls, SD

Stew: Back to the cupcakes after finals break and a brutal stretch. Iowa has to find a way to not be so absolutely terrible on the boards. The defense has been a little improved in that they can force some turnovers, but they’re just giving away possessions with atrocious rebounding. If that means just playing Ogundele come hell or high water, so be it.

The deep shooting isn’t great as a team, and Murray can’t do it all. Gotta find more options.

MNW: With all due respect to my Hawkeye friend, Utah State (KP 47, to Iowa’s 30) isn’t one of those teams you want to mess with—the Aggies, having moved from former SDSU coach T.J. Otzelberger to former UMBC leader Ryan Odom, have a good squad that’s gone toe-to-toe with BYU and Saint Mary’s and beaten Oklahoma.

Defensively they’re not the most solid team I’ve ever seen, but with a fearsome big in Brandon Horvath and walking ghost Brock Miller liable to hit from deep at any time, they’ll cause Iowa some problems.

Sunday, December 19

Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Kansas State Wildcats

5pm | BTN | Line | Total

Jesse Collins: Apparently (a) we are not under NCAA investigation and (b) still suck so I’m not really holding out hope here.

Hoiberg said we are gonna do some new tactics so uh, coooooool. KState by 12.

Anything else on?

As a matter of fact, there’s a lot! Here are a few of your viewing options this weekend outside the basketball realm:

Otherwise, there are a few noteworthy college hoops games I’d recommend:

Jerry Colangelo Classic (Phoenix, AZ)

#5 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. #25 Texas Tech Red Raiders

12pm | CBS | Zags -8.5 | O/U 148.5

Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic (Newark, NJ)

NC Central Eagles vs. Delaware State Hornets

12pm | TNT | EVEN | O/U 129.5

Howard Bison vs. North Carolina A&T Aggies

3pm | TNT | NCAT -2.5 | O/U 147.5

Between the Chris Paul showcase in Phoenix and this one in Newark today, I’m digging the efforts to highlight HBCU basketball across the country — as the Travis Hunter flip to Deion Sanders and Jackson State in football shows, as does Howard’s whole team signing a team NIL endorsement with a local moving company, there’s some fascinating investment in HBCU sports across the country. Couple that with TNT’s broadcast crew bringing a national perspective and experienced Black voices to the conversation, and I’ll flip over to check this out.

Other Random, Interesting Non-Con Games

Marquette Golden Eagles at #22 Xavier Musketeers

3pm | FS1 | Xavier -9.5 | O/U 151

Work your Havocky magic in the Big East, Shaka Smart.

Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. #14 Houston Cougars

6pm | ESPNU | Houston -9 | O/U 134 | at Fort Worth, TX

Okie Lite isn’t the juggernaut they used to be, but a neutral-site matchup with UH in Fort Worth should make for a fun atmosphere—some bowl game-type energy, hopefully, as the ‘Pokes try to push the pace (KP 90 AdjT) outside the Coogs’ comfort zone (294 AdjT). Don’t be surprised if the under hits here—these are two Top 25 defenses nationally.

#1 Baylor Bears at Oregon Ducks

9pm | ESPN2 | Baylor -7 | O/U 135

I have no interest in this one, but you might.

P5 Schools Traveling

Some intriguing stuff here—generally, I want to go on the record and say that more P5 teams should do some Michigan State-style “Celebrate the State” stuff and play in-state mid-majors at “neutral” locations.

Louisville Cardinals at Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

2pm | CBS | Louisville -2.5 | O/U 140

West Virginia Mountaineers at UAB Blazers

4pm | CBSSN | UAB -4 | O/U 133

#19 LSU Tigers vs/at Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

6pm | CBSSN | LSU -11.5 | O/U 144 | at Bossier City, LA

BYU Cougars at Weber State Wildcats

7pm | ESPN+ | BYU -5.5 | O/U 150

#13 Auburn Tigers at Saint Louis Billikens

8pm | CBSSN | Auburn -5.5 | O/U 145.5

Not all of these fit, obviously—West Virginia-UAB and Auburn-SLU are just good examples of P5 schools traveling—but I love the ideas here. It’s a quick drive for Louisville down to Bowling Green and BYU up? down? to Ogden, gives the P5 school a win that looks nicer in NET, pays off some of the in-state fanbase who might not be able to come to home games, and gives the mid-major schools a nice little gate.

Of these, I’d tip BYU-Weber for the most fun—witness what happened earlier this year when the Cougs went to Utah Valley and lost:

Other Mid-Major Matchups of Varying Quality

Northern Iowa Panthers at Marshall Thundering Herd

3pm | Stadium | Marshall -2.5 | O/U 151.5

Hillbilly Basketball is always fun.

Northern Kentucky Norse at Eastern Kentucky Colonels

6pm | ESPN+ | EKU -6 | O/U 148.5


Loyola Marymount Lions at Nevada Wolf Pack

10pm | CBSSN | Nevada -6 | O/U 147.5

Some good Mountain West-WCC action late.

Here’s your open thread for hoops. Enjoy.