College basketball today: West Virginia at TCU, Nebraska at Ohio State highlight Monday's games
Here is what you need to know in college basketball for Monday, Jan. 22:
Game of the night
Nebraska at Ohio State, 8 p.m. ET, BTN: Two of the hottest teams in the Big Ten not named Purdue are meeting in Columbus. The Buckeyes haven’t lost yet at 8-0 in the Big Ten. They pulled away and dominated Minnesota Saturday at Madison Square Garden. Nebraska has won two in a row, and three of four, but all three were at home. The last one was over Michigan, the first win in the Big Ten against a team that seems to be a lock for the NCAA tournament.
But Nebraska MUST get another road win in the league. The Huskers have one — at Northwestern’s temporary home at Allstate Arena. Nebraska needs to rebound well to have a chance to get this one. The Huskers are confident. This is a huge week for Nebraska with a road game at Rutgers next. A split would definitely help its profile.
North Carolina at Virginia Tech, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN: OK, Hokies now what? You’ve lost two of your last three home games against Florida State and Virginia. If you want to have a chance to get into the NCAA tournament, it starts Monday night. Beat North Carolina. Lose to the Tar Heels with two straight road games upcoming and the NIT will likely be the best-case scenario.
A win over UNC guarantees nothing, but at least it could give them a chance. The Hokies are simply not defending at a high level, giving up over 90 points in each of the last two games — losses to Florida State and at Louisville. The Tar Heels won two in a row at home and have won four in a row after losing two straight on the road at Florida State and Virginia earlier in the month.
Maryland at Indiana, 7 p.m. ET, FS1: Indiana was a long shot to make the Dance. Maryland is slightly ahead. The Terps split the two December Big Ten games, losing at home to Purdue and winning at Illinois. But since the restart of the Big Ten in January, Maryland is 3-0 at home, 0-3 on the road. The Terps had a legit shot to win at Michigan, but they couldn’t close out and fell by one.
The games at Michigan State and Ohio State weren’t close. Winning at Indiana would be a major step forward for Maryland. The Terps and Hoosiers have both been hit by major injuries. This is a survival game. Indiana got smacked at Michigan State last Friday. Oh, and Maryland has a real chance for momentum if it can win this game with Michigan State on deck Sunday in College Park.
Michigan State at Illinois, 9 p.m. ET, FS1: Illinois is much better than 0-7 in the Big Ten. Well, the Fighting Illini didn’t show it in the second half against Wisconsin. But take out those 20 minutes and this Illini team has the talent to be a thorn in the Big Ten. But they haven’t been able to close. If they are going to make their mark on the season, then they beat Michigan State.
To do so, they must force turnovers, plenty of them, against the Spartans. And then of course convert. Michigan State got its mojo back with the blowout of Indiana. But any chance of catching Purdue and Ohio State depends on the Spartans running the table over the next month in the six games before the Purdue game on Feb. 10.
Big night in the Big 12
West Virginia at TCU, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN: The Mountaineers got back to winning in Morgantown by knocking off Texas. Now it’s back on the road to TCU, which played its second game without Jaylen Fisher and lost at Kansas State by five. TCU has lost four of the past five games. Kansas State has suddenly thrust itself back in the NCAA bid picture by beating Oklahoma and TCU at home to move to 4-3 in the Big 12.
Sagaba Konate has had at least five blocks in six games this season. He is only one of five players nationally to complete that feat. Last week, he recorded 11... pic.twitter.com/GEF6kylkhT— WVU Basketball (@WVUhoops) January 21, 2018
Kansas State at Baylor, 9 p.m. ET, ESPNU: The aforementioned Wildcats have a swagger about them now that wasn't there earlier in the season. Baylor nearly clipped Kansas in Lawrence. The length and athleticism as well as the Baylor zone can be fluster opponents. But if Kansas State wants to separate from the pack, this is the kind of road win it needs to get.