There have been a lot of good recent rivalries in the Big Ten: Michigan State - Purdue is definitely one of the best.
After a few lean years at the end of Gene Keady's tenure and a rough opening year for Matt Painter, Purdue has finished above .500 the past four years in conference play. Since Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson, and E'Twaun Moore started playing at Mackey Arena, Purdue is 52-17 in conference play.
Since Tom Izzo took the head coaching job in 1995, the Spartans have won an incredible 6 Big Ten regular season titles, been to 6 Final Fours, played in the national championship game twice, and won it all in the 2000 tournament.
Purdue takes on Michigan State Sunday at the Breslin Center. For those of us without a ticket, the game will be on ESPN starting at 1:00 EST.
Purdue comes into the game one game behind conference leader Ohio State with three games left to play. They have really hit their stride, winning five straight games after losing at Wisconsin. Purdue has been outstanding at home this year, but has had some hiccups on the road. Their best road win so far is at Illinois two weeks ago.
Michigan State has had a rough year by their lofty standards and they come into this game 8-7 in conference play. The Spartans have won three of their last four, with their only loss in that stretch at Ohio State. Before those games, Michigan State went through a brutal stretch that included a twenty point beating at the hands of basement-dwelling Iowa.
Michigan State lost to Purdue by ten earlier this year at Mackey Arena. The Spartans managed to score 76 points in that contest, which is fifteen points more than Purdue usually gives up. The problem is that the Boilers seemed to be able to score at will in front of the raucous home crowd. Their 86 points are the most points scored against Michigan State this year.
Purdue is ranked #8 in the AP poll and #7 in the RPI. Michigan State is not ranked in the poll and currently sits at #34 in the RPI. Purdue is 4-3 on the road in the Big Ten and 5-4 against teams in the Top 50 of the RPI. Michigan State is 6-1 at home in the conference, but only 1-7 against teams that are ranked in the AP Top 25 poll.
For a more in-depth preview from a Purdue perspective, check out this post from SBnation's Purdue blog Hammer and Rails:
From Michigan State's perspective, check out the SBnation MSU blog, The Only Colors:
If I were a betting man, I'd put all my money on Ohio State to cover the spread at home against Indiana. As for this game, I don't know. It should be a competitive game in an exciting environment. I'll go with the home court advantage on this one and say Spartans by 4.