Northwestern fans, I am writing this story with mixed emotions. I'm happy the first real NU basketball game is less than 11 hours away, but I have a heavy heart after learning that the brilliant AMC show Rubicon has been canceled after only one season. So before I get to analysis of tonight's action around the Big Ten, let's have a moment of silence for Truxton Spangler, Will Travers, Maggie, and all the rest of the characters that helped make Rubicon one of the most unique shows on TV.
Now that we've paid our respects, onto the Big Ten analysis.
Florida Gulf Coast Eagles at Indiana Hoosiers, 5:30 PM central, Big Ten Network
Strangely, there's no line for this game, so I don't know exactly how over-matched Florida Gulf Coast is. I do know they were 8-21 last year, and that KenPom predicts a 77-60 Indiana win, so it should be a blowout. Then again, Indiana needed overtime earlier this week to beat Ferris State in an exhibition game, so this could be reasonably competitive.
The big story out of Indiana right now is on the recruiting front, as the Hoosiers got a commitment from highly touted local big man Cody Zeller. While it would be nice to if Northwestern was landing recruits like this, Hoosier fans' obsession over a 17 year old is a bit ridiculous; Inside the Hall put up an open thread for people who were watching his press conference live. I get that this signing is huge for the future of Indiana basketball, but calm down people, it's more than a little creepy.
North Carolina A&T Aggies at Ohio State Buckeyes, 6 PM central, ESPN3.com
No line here either, but this will obviously be a slaughter. KenPom predicts an 86-51 Buckeye win and gives Ohio State a 99.8% chance of winning, which seems way too low. This is your first chance to see Jared Sullinger in game action.
Lehigh Mountain Hawks at Penn State Nittany Lions, 6:30 PM central, BigTenNetwork.com ($$$)
Another game with no line, and about the only way I'd care about this game is if I had money on it, so there you go.
This is the best game of the night in the conference, yet sadly is relegated to online pay per view. Wofford returns 4 starters from a team that won the Southern Conference last season and gave Wisconsin all they wanted in the first round of the NCAAs, and they're certainly capable of pulling off the upset, especially since Minnesota guard Devoe Joseph has been suspended indefinitely by Tubby Smith.
The Joseph suspension (for an unspecified violation of team rules) has some Gopher fans upset with Tubby, and while I'm not sure I agree with DWG's win at all costs sentiments, it has to be disappointing that Tubby can't keep his players on the court. Last year, 3 key Gophers missed much or all of the season due to off-court issues, and it's now looking like that wasn't a fluke occurrence. At this point, it seems like only a matter of time before another Minnesota player gets suspended.
Eastern Michigan Eagles at Michigan State Spartans (-23), 7:30 central, Big Ten Network
MSU cruises, even with Korie Lucious serving a suspension for drinking and driving. It's interesting that this blowout and the likely Indiana blowout are the two TV games; it just shows that Indiana and Michigan State have the two biggest fan bases of all the teams in action tonight.
More on this game coming later, I'm just putting the game here so I can make a pick against the spread. Unlike last season, where I made a pick vs the spread for every game and generally stunk up, this year I'm only going to pick NU games and other games I feel strongly about. Anyways, taking Northwestern and giving 9 points in a road game seems like an absolutely terrible idea, but Northern Illinois is apparently bad enough that I'm going to take the 'Cats.
To watch this game online, you have to pay $9.95 on NUsports.com for Wildcats All-Access, and since I'm assuming pretty much none of you will do that, I may fire up a live blog during the game tonight to go along with the usual game thread. See everyone tonight.