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1/29 Big Ten Preview: Michigan State and Michigan Fight for State Supremacy

Plus key games in Lincoln and Evanston as key Big Ten games continues this Sunday.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Michigan State
Tom Izzo coaching his team against the Purdue Boilermakers
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

After a big Saturday of Big Ten hoops, Sunday offers up an intriguing set of match ups as the top half of the league jockeys for position. Five of the conference's top seven teams will be in action on Sunday, giving Big Ten fans a great day of college hoops.

You can preview all of Sunday’s games below. All betting odds are courtesy of

Big Ten Game of the Day:

-Michigan Wolverines at Michigan State Spartans

  • Time/TV: 1:00 PM ET - CBS
  • Covers Spread: Michigan State (-3)

Michigan State really needs this one.

The Spartans (12 - 9, 4 - 4) enter the game against their in-state rivals losers of three-in-a-row and four out of their last five. Their NCAA tournament hopes are dangling by a thread and home opportunities against KenPom top 35 team's are dwindling.

For the Wolverines (14 - 7, 4 - 4), this game is an opportunity to extend a two game win streak and get over .500 in conference play.

If Michigan State wants to win today, they need Nick Ward and Eron Harris to play well. In their last loss at home against Purdue, Miles Bridges was brilliant with 33 points on 12 - 17 shooting. As for the rest of the team? No one else scored in double figures.

Ward in particular is a unique presence that gives Michigan State a potential advantage over Michigan. The Wolverines struggle to defend the post at times, and Ward is a load to deal with on the low block. If they can get him going, things might look good in this one.

The Wolverines start a tough six game stretch with this one: (@MSU, OSU, MSU, @IND, WIS and @MINN), but seem to be playing well at the right time. Their last game was a 30-point beat down against Indiana in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines shot 63% from the field and 55% from three.

You know what you are going to get with the Wolverines and coach John Beilein. Michigan will want to run their sets and shoot a high percentage from three-point land. The Wolverines have molded themselves into a great team offensively, as evidenced by a top 10 KenPom offensive efficiency rating.

This will be a fun one for state bragging rights today. I think Michigan State will find a way to pull out a tough, gritty win against the Wolverines.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Michigan State

The Rest:

- No. 20 Purdue Boilermakers at Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Time/TV: 4:30 PM ET – BTN
  • Covers Spread: Purdue (-9)

The Boilermakers (17 - 4, 6 - 2) picked up an impressive win in East Lansing on Tuesday and look to keep rolling on the road against the Cornhuskers.

On paper, this looks like a match up nightmare for Nebraska (9 - 11, 3 - 5). Purdue's massive front line of Caleb Swanigan, Isaac Haas and Vincent Edwards could have a field day agains the smaller front of the Cornhuskers. Purdue excels at getting opponents in foul trouble and that could be a killer against a Cornhuskers team with not much front-line depth.

If last game is any indication, Nebraska will struggle to defend Purdue's big men. Northwestern's Dererk Pardon (6'8" sophomore center) put up 19 points and a career high 22 rebounds in their victory over the Cornhuskers. Caleb Swanigan has to be licking his chops knowing those numbers.

For Nebraska to win, they will need one of their big three (Glynn Watson Jr, Tai Webster or Ed Morrow) to go off. The Boilermakers do struggle at times defending guards that can penetrate, shoot and pass. Minnesota's Nate Mason dropped 31 on Purdue in Mackey Arena earlier this season running high pick' n' rolls around Haas and Swanigan.

But I just don't see a Nebraska victory here. The Cornhuskers will probably hang around for a while, make a few shots, but Purdue's size will wear them down and get the Cornhuskers into foul trouble. Expect the Boilermakers to roll in this one.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Purdue

-Indiana Hoosiers at Northwestern Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 6:30 PM ET – BTN
  • Covers Spread: Northwestern (-6.5)

The injuries continue to pile up for the Hoosiers (14 - 7, 4 - 4). Leading scorer, James Blackmon Jr. was ruled out "indefinitely" per coach Tom Crean with a lower leg injury. That's three big time rotational pieces now out this season with injuries (Collin Hartman, OG Anunoby, James Blackmon Jr.). Tough times for the defending Big Ten champs.

They will get no sympathy from the surging Northwestern Wildcats (17 - 4, 6 - 2) this evening in Evanston. The Wildcats are not only competing for its first NCAA tournament bid, they are competing for a Big Ten title. The Wildcats are just a game out of first in the conference and this game is the first in an important week against the state of Indiana (at Purdue on Wednesday).

It will take a big effort for Indiana to pull off a victory tonight. Players such as Robert Johnson, Thomas Bryant and Josh Newkirk will need to play well to keep the Hoosiers in it. Northwestern has never had more depth in scoring options with their big three of Scottie Lindsey, Vic Law and Bryant McIntosh. As mentioned, Dererk Pardon has also joined the mix too with his big game against Nebraska. That is a lot to ask for Indiana to stop.

Expect a comfortable win for the Wildcats as they continue their march to the NCAA's.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Northwestern