It’s Friday night and I feel alright. That’s what happens when you get your food shopping done during the day and get to watch speed runs of Pokemon Gold all afternoon. The NFL Playoffs continue tomorrow with a couple of hot games that will keep this guy glued to the action all night. Tonight, though? There’s Big Ten basketball action. Gotta get down on Friday, people.
I don’t know why it took this long for one of the major conferences to start putting their hoops games on Friday night. Saturday is already saturated with college basketball as well as the NFL football this time of year, so why not put your games in more friendly waters?
Big Ten basketball: Indiana at Maryland (-5.0) and Purdue at Wisconsin (-3.5), both games on FS1
The Hoosiers are tough to figure out because they haven’t played many teams on their level. Two of their three losses are to Duke and Michigan — perhaps the top two teams in the nation — while their best win is over Marquette, a team that isn’t quite at the top of the Big East. No one is super jacked about Indiana’s three Big Ten triumphs over Penn State, Northwestern, and Illinois. The attitude around this team can get a huge boost with a win over Maryland.
The Terps are 3-0 in January with wins over Nebraska, Rutgers, and Minnesota. They haven’t been tested as tested as Indiana and might not have the top two players on the court in this game — IU’s Romeo Langford and Juwan Morgan are pretty damn impressive — but Maryland’s team is deeper and it’s getting some great performances from its own freshmen in Jalen Smith and Aaron Wiggins. I like Maryland to win by a bucket at home.
I’m thinking the Badgers also get a home win tonight. Wisconsin lost back-to-back games against Western Kentucky and Minnesota recently, but they rebounded with a shellacking of my Nittany Lions. On the other side, Purdue took its lumps during a tough non-conference slate, but also has Big Ten win over Iowa and Maryland to brag about. Most recently, the Boilermakers were blown out by Michigan State on Tuesday.
This game will be billed as a battle between the two top players in the Big Ten, Ethan Happ and Carsen Edwards. That alone will make this game fun to watch, but Wisconsin’s home-court advantage and its superior supporting talent should be enough to get the win by about five or six points. Look for Wisconsin point guard D’Mitrik Trice to rediscover his scoring touch after being held under 10 points in each of his last two games.
NBA: Indiana at New York (+8.0) and Lakers at Utah (-8.0), both games on ESPN
The Knicks are without Enes Kanter tonight because he went too hard on cheat day. That doesn’t give New York much of a chance against a very good Pacers squad. However, Indiana will be missing a big man of its own, as Myles Turner is out with a shoulder injury. I still think the Pacers win by double digits.
Over in Salt Lake City, the Lakers are big underdogs without LeBron James, but they’ve won two in a row and Kyle Kuzma seems to be emerging as the secondary go-to guy that Los Angeles needs. The Jazz have been playing down the middle all season; they haven’t won or loss more than two games in a row since November. I’ll take Utah to win but not cover.
Big Ten Hockey: Michigan State at Penn State, BTN
College hockey is awesome, but I’m only going to watch this because it’s a PSU game.
Have a great night!