It’s been a very bad week for the Big Ten. Very bad. First Michigan fired the damaging opening salvo with a bizarre home loss to NJIT. They bookended the disaster with a loss to instate “rival” Eastern Michigan. Purdue tried to keep pace by losing to the Osprey of North Florida. But last night’s loss might be the big winner. I thought the Michigan loss to NJIT might be the worst I’d seen in several years but Nebraska’s loss to Incarnate Word might be equally bad. The College of Incarnate Word (I’m going to go on a limb and guess they are a religiously affiliated private school…) started playing Division I basketball a couple years ago. I imagine this week was the first time anyone noticed.
What does this mean for the Big Ten? Time will tell. But Michigan and Nebraska projected out to be easy NCAA Tourney teams. These losses will hurt come March, either with bubble status or certainly when it comes to seeding. Oh, and I take back my Nebraska as a sleeper preseason prediction. Ugh…
There’s next to no games tonight, but there is a really awesome instate matchup taking place tonight, so let’s head out to the heartland of Iowa for tonight’s free pick.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Iowa State Cyclones at Iowa Hawkeyes -6 (Total: 140)
This game lost a little of the competitive luster with the sudden arrest of Bryce Dejean-Jones earlier this week. The original charge was “hosting a drug house.” The charges were reduced, but anytime the discussion starts with “hosting a drug house” you can imagine the fallout will be significant. He is not playing tonight, but it remains to be seen how this will impact the rest of the season for the Cyclones leading scorer.
The home team has won nine of the last ten games in this series. I would have like the Cyclones chances to reverse the trend a whole lot more before Jones was suspended. Now, I am not sure the ‘Clones have the offense to overtake the poised, veteran Hawkeye attack. Iowa isn’t going to turn the ball over much and they are going to rebound and get and make open shots. Everyone on the floor will have the ability to step out and make a midrange shot – think of Iowa as Wisconsin-light. They play a very similar and efficient style.
Iowa has a worse record at 8-2, but the losses are to Texas and a road loss by three points at Syracuse. Tonight they are at home and taking on a team missing one of their two best players. I think that’s enough to get Iowa a double-digit win tonight.