The Big Ten's mid-week games have been up and down so far this season and on Wednesday night, the two games probably trend closer to the bottom of that rating than the top. The lineup features two of the Big Ten's better teams taking on the two worst teams in the conference. Still, there's always the potential for an upset and that will be the most compelling aspect of Wednesday's matchups.
Let's take a look at the action.
Game of The Night:
Broadly speaking, this is probably one of the weaker Game of the Night selections yet, but alas, that's just how the schedule drops. The Boilermakers will put the team's 17-4 overall record and 5-3 conference record on the line and look to pick up a road win. On the other side, the Gophers are looking to finally close the deal and get the team's first conference win this season.
For Purdue, this is a game that could fall in a bit of a tricky spot. The Boilermakers had three games last week against Rutgers, Ohio State, and Iowa and are set to face Nebraska at home on Saturday. On paper, Purdue is a pretty significant favorite against Minnesota, but there is a chance that the team is caught looking ahead. Plus, with the win the season has unfolded, Purdue can't afford another loss to keep pace in the conference title race.
On the other side, Minnesota is still looking for its first conference win of the year. Admittedly, this will be a pretty tough matchup, but perhaps the Gophers can catch Purdue off guard in a tricky night road game. The biggest key for Minnesota will be whether Jordan Murphy can stay on the floor and how the team plays down the stretch. Minnesota has let a few games slip away recently and will look to change that trend this time.
The matchup of the game has to be upfront. How can Minnesota's big men in Charles Buggs, Bakary Konate, and Murphy handle Purdue's Isaac Haas and AJ Hammons? Notably, with Caleb Swanigan "doubtful" for the game on Wednesday night, perhaps Murphy can have a big performance.
Similar to the first game, this is another that doesn't look incredibly intriguing on paper. KenPom has the Wolverines favored by 22 points and with a 97 percent chance of winning. However, unlike the first game, this matchup also puts the better team at home, so the upset factor is probably reduced even a bit more.
Nonetheless, this is an important game for Michigan. So far, the Wolverines have done a great job of taking care of the "winnable" games and avoiding upsets. In fact, it's one of the biggest reasons that Michigan is moving up so much in the NCAA Tournament bracket projections. Obviously, this is a clear game that fits in that category. As such, Michigan needs to find a way to come out on top to keep trending up.
On the other side, Rutgers is still looking for its first conference win of the year. It's going to be an underdog, but perhaps Corey Sanders can keep the Scarlet Knights in the game and some of the team's shooters can close the deal in the final minutes.