If one thing is for certain, the Big Ten did not look like the best conference in college basketball Friday night. Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State were victims of upsets, and both #3 Maryland and Northwestern barely survived scares of their own. However, Saturday promises more hope for the conference as a top-tier Purdue team is in action, as well as two other winnable games for Illinois and Rutgers. Here's what to expect for this Saturday of Big Ten basketball.
Game of the Night
Old Dominion Monarchs vs. #21 Purdue Boilermakers (Noon ET, ESPN3)
So far, Purdue has looked like one of the best, if not the best, team in the conference. While blowout wins over North Carolina A&T, Vermont and Incarnate Word may not come as a surprise, its the way they've been doing it that impresses. Five Boilermakers are already averaging double-figures in points, and oh yeah, A.J. Hammons isn't one of them. The 7-0 big man sat out the first two of Purdue's games for unspecified reasons, but will likely return to full form in the near future. That journey starts with Old Dominion.
In the second game for the Naismith Hall of Fame Tipoff, the Boilermakers travel to Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut to take on a solid Monarchs team lead by senior guards Trey Freeman and Aaron Bacote. The two have combined for 46% of the teams points thus far and will be the main focus for Purdue's defense. However, the frontcourt trio of Hammons, Isaac Haas and Caleb Swanigan is simply unmatched by ODU. Look for the Boilers to exploit this matchup early and often. If Purdue plays their game, like they should, the Boilers should snag a win here.
Chattanooga Mocs vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (8:30 ET, BTN)
After dropping a tough one on the road to Providence, the Fighting Illini will try to rebound when they take on the Mocs at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield. Mike Thorne Jr. (15.3 PPG) will try to get back on track after going scoreless this past Wednesday. Chattanooga, however, is no push-over team. In their opening game of the season, they upset Georgia, 92-90 in Athens. The Mocs are led by guards Casey Jones and Johnathan Burroughs-Cook. To win this game, Illinois will need to amp up their defense, hit some threes and get back to their post game. Watch for Jalen Coleman-Lands to shoot more, the freshman has already hit 56.3% from beyond the arc. The Fighting Illini should win this game, but it'll be a fight to the finish.
Central Arkansas at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (5:00 ET, BTN Plus)
Rutgers nearly beat St. John's on Thursday, falling 61-59 to the Red Storm. Bishop Daniels is coming off a solid game with 21 points, and should continue his impressive play when the Scarlet Knights meet Central Arkansas is the first ever Men Who Speak Up Main Event to raise awareness for prostate cancer. Central Arkansas is ranked 231st in the KenPom rankings and poses not much of an obstacle. However, this Rutgers team is not great. I'd expect a 5-10 point win for Eddie Jordan and company Saturday afternoon.