Even with Saturday's loss to Wisconsin, Ohio State appears to have a vice grip on the Big Ten regular season crown.
When Purdue hosts that same Wisconsin team this evening, though, second place will be very much on the line as the conference race heads down the stretch. The game will be broadcast at 6:30 P.M. on the Big Ten Network.
The No. 10 Badgers (19-5, 9-3) are one of, if not the hottest teams in the league at the moment. Their last loss came at Penn State late last month, but beyond that, they've won seven of their last eight games. After tonight, Wisconsin's only game left against a ranked opponent comes against Ohio State in early March.
The No. 11 Boilermakers (20-5, 9-3) are opening a two-game stretch against the conferences top teams tonight, hosting Wisconsin before welcoming No. 3 Ohio State on Sunday. Purdue dropped contests to both teams on the road, but will be looking to turn that around tonight.
Keys to the game after the jump.
When Wisconsin Has The Ball
- The Badgers had only eight turnovers against the Buckeyes, a big reason they were able to pull the upset. Wisconsin should make a concentrated effort to hold onto the ball tonight and limit extra opportunities for Purdue. That's always big on the road.
- Obviously, Jordan Taylor will be a big concern for the Boilermakers. The junior had 27 points against Ohio State and his been on a major runs since Big Ten play began. Though the Badgers have other tough matchups, Purdue likely must focus on Taylor to have a shot in this one.
When Purdue Has The Ball
- E`Twaun Moore appears to have gotten into a bit of a rhythm lately after swooning a little mid-season. If Purdue can get him going at home, it bodes very well for its chances. By the same token, if Wisconsin can disrupt him as several teams have been able to do this season, they might disable one of their opponents' biggest weapons.
- Look for one of Purdue's role players to step up in this game. The Boilers always seem to have a third or fourth scorer go off in their big wins, so if they can get that production tonight, it could really help them.
Wisconsin won in Madison by a relatively comfortable margin. Look for that to narrow tonight. The Badgers are red hot at the moment, but so was Ohio State before Wisconsin knocked it off the tracks, so anything can happen. Purdue is at home in this one and needs it to have a shot at a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Look for an intense game that goes down to the wire.