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Week 11: BTP Game of the Week: Purdue at Michigan State

BTPowerhouse looks at the best games of the upcoming week in the Big Ten.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Purdue Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

As we shift from the early weeks of January to the end of the month, the pressure is starting to build across the league. Teams need to start building their resumes and the race for the Big Ten title remains as tight as ever. This will set fans up (yet again) for a great week of action for the Big Ten filled with major NCAA ramifications.

And with that, here’s a look at the top games in the coming week.

Game Of The Week:

-Purdue Boilermakers at Michigan State Spartans

As I have said multiple times over the last few days, this is the single most important week of the regular season remaining for the Spartans. If the team is truly going to get back on track and make a run toward the postseason and beyond, it needs to start in the next few days. Otherwise, things could get ugly.

The reason this week is so important is two-fold. To start, Michigan State needs a marquee win, which it can get on Tuesday by knocking off Purdue. And second, Michigan State needs to take care of business at home against beatable opponents, which it can do on Sunday against Michigan.

Michigan State can’t lock up an NCAA bid by winning its two matchups this week, but I do think it can realistically play itself out of a bid by losing these two games.

That puts a ton of pressure on the Spartans to get the job done against Purdue on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, that won’t be an easy task as the Boilermakers also have a lot riding on this game. Purdue is in the heart of a Big Ten title race and needs to keep pace with Maryland and Wisconsin. As such, beating MSU will be vital.

The matchup to watch in this one will be inside where Purdue’s Isaac Haas and Big Ten Player of the Year frontrunner Caleb Swanigan will battle Michigan State’s Miles Bridges and Nick Ward. Expect an absolute dogfight on the boards.

Honorable Mention:

-Maryland Terrapins at Minnesota Golden Gophers

Few might have expected Maryland to be in the Big Ten title race at the end of January, but as we move into the final days of the month, that’s exactly where the Terps find themselves. The pressure will now be on the team to find a way to take care of some winnable road games, starting with a trip to Minnesota.

On the other side, this is a chance for Minnesota to score a huge win at home over a team that looks like it’s a safe bet for the NCAA Tournament. Minnesota has a few nice wins, but this would be another one to add to the resume.

In short, this game is going to feature two quality teams with a lot on the line. This will also offer Maryland a chance to makeup for last season’s debacle in Minneapolis.

The matchup I am most interested to see in this one will be Nate Mason against Melo Trimble. Both have shown some great play this season and whoever wins that matchup will likely win this game.

-Michigan Wolverines at Michigan State Spartans

The Big Ten’s rivalry games started over the last few weeks and fans will get treated to the first matchup in one of the league’s fiercest rivalries on Sunday between Michigan and Michigan State. Both teams are looking for a big win after mixed starts to conference play and this will offer an opportunity to do just that.

Realistically, there’s probably a bit more pressure on Michigan State in this one since the game’s in East Lansing, but Michigan needs this one badly as well. Not only because Michigan simply needs wins to secure NCAA Tournament positioning, but also because the team hasn’t won a road game yet this season.

The most interesting matchup in this game will feature Michigan’s DJ Wilson against Michigan State’s Nick Ward. They’re two very different big men, which should make their matchup even more intriguing.

Worst Game of the Week:

-Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Maryland Terrapins

During last week, Rutgers finally won its first Big Ten game of the season. It came in exciting fashion thanks to some great play from Corey Sanders. However, that win will be short lived as Rutgers has to follow it with a road trip to Maryland on Tuesday night.

Maryland hasn’t thoroughly dominated many opponents this season, but I am expecting the Terps will do just that on Tuesday. The goal for Rutgers will be to cover the double-digit spread on the road.

Season Stats:

-Game of the Week Appearances:

  • Michigan State - 3
  • Indiana - 2
  • Minnesota - 2
  • Purdue - 2
  • Wisconsin - 2
  • Iowa - 1
  • Northwestern - 1
  • Rutgers - 1

-Game of the Week Honorable Mention Appearances:

  • Michigan State - 5
  • Maryland - 4
  • Michigan - 4
  • Wisconsin - 4
  • Indiana - 3
  • Ohio State - 3
  • Minnesota - 2
  • Northwestern - 2
  • Illinois - 1
  • Iowa - 1
  • Purdue - 1

-Total Appearances:

  • Michigan State - 8
  • Wisconsin - 6
  • Indiana - 5
  • Maryland - 4
  • Michigan - 4
  • Minnesota - 4
  • Northwestern - 3
  • Ohio State - 3
  • Purdue - 3
  • Iowa - 2
  • Illinois - 1
  • Rutgers - 1

-Worst Game Appearances:

  • Rutgers - 7
  • Nebraska - 2
  • Penn State - 2
  • Illinois - 1
  • Indiana - 1
  • Maryland - 1
  • Michigan State - 1