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Big Ten Thursday Preview and Open Thread: Can the Ohio State Buckeyes Knock Off the Purdue Boilermakers

The Iowa Hawkeyes also play the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, and the Wisconsin Badgers take on the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, we've got more than two games on a Thursday. There's three Big Ten games on tap tonight, with Iowa playing at Rutgers, Wisconsin at Penn State and Ohio State at Purdue. Several of the games feature potential NCAA Tournament teams and tonight could have a big impact on the title race.

Let's take a look at all three matchups.

Game of the Night: Ohio State Buckeyes at Purdue Boilermakers (9:00 ET | ESPN)

It hasn't been the greatest year for Ohio State so far. The Buckeyes are just 12-7, and have been blown out in two of their last three games by Indiana and Maryland. If Thad Matta and company are going to make any noise this season, they're going to have to be competitive against top in-conference teams, and they get another chance tonight against the 22nd ranked Boilermakers.

Purdue is 4-2 in Big Ten play so far, but has won its last two and is coming off an absolute drubbing, 107-57, against Rutgers on Monday. Purdue's three-headed front court monster of A.J. Hammons (13.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 blocks), Caleb Swanigan (10.4 points, 8.9 rebounds) and Isaac Haas (10.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.2 blocks) has been a nightmare to cover all season and when the Boilermakers get wings Vince Edwards and Raphael Davis going, they are a very tough team to play.

If the Buckeyes are going to slow Purdue down, they'll need forwards Marc Loving, Keita Bates-Diop and center Trevor Thompson to at least come close to matching the Boilermakers' stars down low. Prized freshman guard JaQuan Lyle could also be a difference maker and against a solid but not spectacular group of Purdue guards.

The Rest:

-Iowa Hawkeyes at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (7:00 ET | ESPNU)

This one has blowout written all over it. The Hawkeyes have made a statement that they might be the best team in the conference, winning seven in a row including back-to-back victories over Michigan State and Michigan. Rutgers meanwhile, has yet to win in the Big Ten and is coming off an absolute annihilation at the hands off Purdue. Freshman Corey Sanders is averaging 14.2 points per game and is definitely a guy to watch, but it would be shocking to see the Scarlet Knights pull off the upset. Expect Jarred Uthoff and crew to roll.

-Wisconsin Badgers at Penn State Nittany Lions (8:00 ET | BTN)

I wrote last week that it was gut-check time for Penn State, and that the Nittany Lions would struggle to upset top-teams in the Big Ten this season. The Lions promptly shut me up by upsetting Northwestern, 71-62, on Saturday. Will the Lions be able to do it two games in a row? Perhaps. The Badgers are coming off a huge win against (suddenly reeling) Michigan State, but they're just 2-4 in conference play and clearly aren't the team they were last season. If the Lions shoot from three the way they did against Northwestern (9-21, 42 percent), they'll definitely have a chance. Still, they can't expect players like Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig to have off-nights the way most of the Wildcats did on Saturday. This one could likely be very close.