Conference play has already started, but it really actually starts today. Need a quick refresher on standings but too lazy to look them up? I got you.
2-0: Purdue, Wisconsin
1-0: Ohio State, Northwestern, Michigan
0-2: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota
Sunday, January 1st
#33 Maryland Terrapins (10-3, 1-1) at #88 Michigan Wolverines (7-5, 1-0), 3:30 pm, FS1
MaximumSam: Maryland has tried to exorcise their demons from a three game losing streak by handling a couple buy games. That’s better than Michigan could do, as they got dropped by Central Michigan. They’ve fallen behind Nebraska in the Torvik rankings, and all sorts of questions have popped up about Juwan Howard. They could use a win, is what I’m saying.
Can they meaningfully improve? Hard to say - a couple of their issues are a bit effort related. Their offensive rebounding is straight garbage - ranked 308th in the country right now. The defense is also a mess, though with starting two freshmen I’m not sure they can get much better there. Offensively they are pretty good, and it might be the best option is to just go run and gun. Torvik goes Terps, 72-70.
BoilerUp89: Maryland looked good in their recent buy games and getting beaten like a drum by UCLA, while Michigan is coming off a disappointing loss to CMU. Like we will see many times this season in the B1G, both teams could use a win against P6 competition.
Maryland may struggle against Hunter Dickinson’s height and length, but then again Hunter hasn’t been the dominant force we expected him to be for much of the season.
#54 Iowa Hawkeyes (8-5, 0-2) at #46 Penn State Nittany Lions (10-3, 1-1), 4:30 pm, BTN
MaximumSam: Speaking of teams in need of a win, Iowa has suffered two straight humiliating losses and needs a reset. Going on the road against Penn State is not an easy proposition. Penn State does not turn the ball over and just wants to come up and burn the nets from three. Iowa also wants to burn the nets, but has not been shooting straight. The Nits are 22nd in the country from three, compared to 238th for Iowa. That means Iowa will try to bang down low with Kris Murray and Filip Rebraca. We’ll see if they can play enough defense to bother the shooters, though betting on Iowa’s defense feels like playing the Powerball. Torvik says Nits, 76-72.
BoilerUp89: The floor has fallen away for the Hawkeyes and Penn State gets this one at home. Will Iowa be able to find a way to bounce back? Can Kris Murray and Rebraca score repeatedly inside and Iowa use their size advantage to dominate the boards? Or will Jalen Pickett slash the Iowa “defense” to shreds and find wide open shooters again and again for Penn State to run away with this one?
#20 Ohio State Buckeyes (9-3, 1-0) at #56 Northwestern Wildcats (10-2, 1-0), 6 pm, BTN
MaximumSam: Both of these teams are trying to jump into the first place jumble of the B1G, and it will be a contrast in styles. Northwestern is Team Grind, placing 235th in offense but 5th in defense. The Buckeyes are Team Beautiful Game, placing 4th on offense but 101st in defense. Northwestern is tops in the country at defending twos and they block a ton of shots. We’ll see if OSU can solve this puzzle.
The Bucks finally had all their players available for the first time in their last game. Hitting the road, it should be interesting to see what Chris Holtmann does with his rotations. OSU now goes a complete ten deep, with a ton of versatile players. Maybe he’ll sub someone in who plays defense. Torvik sees this as a coin flip game and has the Buckeyes winning, 66-65.
BoilerUp89: Both teams will likely be limited in the paint. Northwestern lacks the dominant post presence that can score at will, but has bodies and length to frustrate Zed Key and the other Buckeyes post players. So this one comes down to three point shooting. Ohio State is the better of the two at shooting with Sensabaugh and Thornton leading the way, but Northwestern has been very good at limiting opponents open looks from three (opponents are shooting just 27.2% from behind the arc) and has Audige and Buie who have shown they can get hot at times.