College Basketball Pick
The best three teams in the Big Ten only play each other once so that makes these Games that much more important to winning the regular season title. Playing at home, Wisconsin gets the edge against Maryland on Sunday, but it won’t come easy. The last time in Madison, the Badgers fell to Northwestern. Bronson Koenig, who we now know is dealing with a leg injury after missing Wednesday’s practice, had just two points in 30 minutes in that loss. If Koenig isn’t 100% healthy, the Badgers can lose to anyone in the conference.
The Terrapins hit a minor rough patch a couple weeks ago, but are back to winning and given their upcoming Schedule, have a solid shot of winning the Big Ten if they can come out on top this Game. They handled the same Northwestern team on Wednesday that Wisconsin lost to and have just one road loss all season. Wisconsin may have the best defense in the conference, but Maryland has the players to fight that and if Koenig isn’t healthy, the Badgers may not be able to keep up.
First off, it’s hard to see Koenig keeping Melo Trimble and Anthony Cowan in check on the perimeter with his leg injury. Trimble is coming off a career-high 32 points, while Cowan does a little bit of everything for the Terps. From there, Maryland could have an edge with Justin Jackson at the Four spot as Nigel Hayes will draw that matchup. While Hayes is a great player, Jackson has the athleticism on him and could be a problem for Hayes, who is a bit bigger. So while Wisconsin has a great defense, there are ways for Maryland to Scoreand keep up with the Badgers on the road.
The question will be what Maryland does against Ethan Happ. Northwestern doubled the big man and that led to one of the worst Games of the season for Happ. There’s no certainty in what the Terps will do, but it’s hard to think they won’t at least try to let Damonte Dodd deal with Happ himself. If Dodd can keep Happ in check, that would be huge. Hayes will have a size advantage offensively, but someone else will need to step up for the Badgers if Koenig can’t do it. Zak Showalter is mostly a defensive presence, which leaves Vitto Brown and Khalil Iverson or even D’Mitrik Trice.
With how Trimble, Cowan and Jaylen Brantley have been playing, especially on the road, it’ll be hard to back the Badgers in this Game even at home. Even before losing to Northwestern, they had some really tight Games, barely beating a weakened Indiana team and going to overtime against the likes of Rutgers and Nebraska. Maryland may not be favored in this Game, but will be the more popular team to bet on by a lot of people, especially if Koenig doesn’t get any healthier in the lead up to the Game.
Our pick – Wisconsin by 13