So far this year Thursday has been a pretty light day as far as Big Ten games. We’ve had at least three Thursdays during this season with nothing on the schedule. Now that the conference schedule has started, though, the games are ramping up.
After beating Wisconsin at home, Purdue travels to Iowa in our Big Ten Game of the Day. It’s close to a must-win for Iowa and for Purdue, without any other ranked opponents on its schedule, the Boilermakers can’t afford road lapses in a tight Big Ten race, especially now that Michigan State is 4-1.
Big Ten Game of the Day:
-Purdue Boilermakers at Iowa Hawkeyes
- Time/TV: 8:00 PM CT – BTN
- Spread (ESPN): Purdue (-6)
After dispatching Wisconsin, Purdue’s path to the Big Ten title goes through Michigan State (twice) and Indiana, although the Boilermakers can’t afford any slips against inferior opponents. And it’ll be a long road. The Boilermakers ought to be favored in every remaining game, except maybe in East Lansing. Purdue’s real pitfalls lie in the road games. No matter the level of competition, Big Ten road games will prove challenging if Matt Painter’s team isn’t ready to play.
Iowa is the first such game. The Hawkeyes record isn’t great (10-7, 2-2), but a Purdue win would bolster a teetering NCAA Tournament resume. Peter Jok can put up points in bunches, but Iowa’s concern against Purdue is on the defensive end. Guarding Caleb Swanigan has proven difficult for anyone, but Iowa is 122nd in adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom. Purdue’s offense on the other hand is ranked 23rd in adjusted efficiency.
- Pick Against the Spread: Purdue
-Ohio State Buckeyes at Wisconsin Badgers
- Time/TV: 6:00 PM CT – ESPN2
- Spread (ESPN): Wisconsin (-11)
Wisconsin will be looking to bounce back after Purdue ended their nine game winning streak. Getting Ohio State in the Kohl Center might be just what’s needed. The Buckeyes have yet to win a conference game (0-3), losing to Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue already. The Buckeyes do have a balanced attack (five guys average double figures), but winning at the Kohl Center is a tall task.
The Badgers don’t lose at home much, obviously, and I don’t see it happening against Ohio State. Wisconsin’s offense is really efficient, even though they haven’t been shooting the ball particularly well.
And the Badgers should also be able to hold an advantage on the glass, as they have with almost every game (save Purdue and North Carolina).
- Pick Against the Spread: Wisconsin
-Northwestern Wildcats at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
- Time/TV: 8:00 PM CT – ESPNU
- Spread (ESPN): Northwestern (-7)
Northwestern has been making people into believers this season, even though the Wildcats are off to a somewhat rocky start in the Big Ten. The schedule hasn’t been friendly from the travel standpoint. Four of Northwestern’s first five conference games are on the road.
The Scarlet Knights finished with a great non-conference record, but have taken a noticeable step back recently. They’re 0-4 in the Big Ten and have lost five in a row overall. Beating Northwestern would be a nice win for Rutgers, but it’s unlikely.
These are games Northwestern should win handily, particularly if the program has taken the next step. It’s not only about winning big games; it’s also about taking care of should-win games. And I think Northwestern will.
- Pick Against the Spread: Northwestern