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Big Ten Saturday Preview: #22 Indiana hosts in-state rival #17 Purdue

Key rivalry matchup highlights a Saturday of Big Ten basketball

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

With less than a month before Selection Sunday, the college basketball season is as exciting as ever. Today, three Big Ten games line the slate, including a potential barn burner between ranked teams Indiana and Purdue. Here's a deeper look at each of the matchups and what to watch for.

Game of the Night

#22 Indiana Hoosiers vs. #17 Purdue Boilermakers - 8:30 ET (ESPN)

In terms of rivalry games, Indiana-Purdue may be atop of the Big Ten. This will mark the 204th meeting between the two in-state foes, of which Purdue leads the all-time series 115-88. The Boilermakers have also won the last three meetings and this is the first time since 2008 that both teams are ranked heading into the matchup.

In terms of NCAA tournament implications, this is a big game for both squads. ESPN's Joe Lunardi currently predicts that Purdue will be a #5 seed in the tourney while Indiana will be a #6. This matchup certainly presents the opportunity for either team to get a quality, resume boosting win.

Indiana (21-6, 11-3 B1G) is currently tied for the conference lead with Iowa.  A win would give them first place outright, setting them up nicely for the final stretch of the season. The implications could be big for the postseason as well, as a number one finish guarantees a number one seed in the Big Ten tournament.

As for Purdue, this could be a much needed win to put them back into Big Ten title contention. A loss to Michigan last week was less than ideal, but a victory over the surging Hoosiers would surely turn some heads. As we've learned from this Boilers team, they are nearly unbeatable when A.J. Hammons shows up, but that is an if. Against a smaller Indiana frontcourt, I'd look for Hammons to get a significant amount of touches in the paint.

KenPom predicts a 74-71 win for Indiana, with a 64% chance of victory for the home team Hoosiers. Regardless of the outcome, this should be a close game under the spotlight. You don't want to miss it.

The Rest

Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes - 7 ET (BTN)

After winning three straight, the Buckeyes appear to have vaulted themselves back into NCAA tournament bid contention. Nebraska, on the other hand, has lost five of their last seven since an upset win over Michigan State on January 21st. The key matchup to watch in this one will be between the combination of Andrew White and Shavon Shields vs. the OSU frontcourt. The Nebraska duo is accounting for 45.5% of their team's points and thrives at the stretch 3/4 position. Look for a big defensive game out of Keita Bates-Diop for OSU. KenPom favors Ohio State with a 59% chance of victory. I'd be confident in that prediction.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Penn State Nittany Lions - 1 ET (ESPNU)

Can Rutgers finally get their first Big Ten win? Considering that they're not favored in any of their remaining games, this may be their best shot to get a win before year's end. The Scarlet Knights have had nothing short of a trainwreck of a season, but getting a win over the Nittany Lions might lessen the blow, at least a bit. The unfortunate thing for Rutgers is that star player Corey Sanders will be out for the second straight game due to a suspension for a violation of team rules. KenPom predicts a 69% chance of win for Penn State, and without Sanders, it is going to be hard for Rutgers to get their first conference win.