While college basketball tipped off last weekend, the real games for the Big Ten started this week. The league got off to a great start on Monday with a 4-0 performance and will look to build off that on Tuesday with a massive showdown between Duke and Michigan State.
Let’s look at the slate of games.
Big Ten Game of the Day:
-No. 1 Duke Blue Devils vs No. 2 Michigan State Spartans
- Time/TV: 7:00PM ET - ESPN
- KenPom Spread: Duke (-1)
This is probably the biggest no-brainer you will see as to deciding the game of the day. This is clearly the best non-conference matchup in college basketball this season, if not the best matchup period.
Duke is 2-0 after picking up two easy victories over the weekend. The Blue Devils are ranked as the nation’s top team in the first AP poll this season. They were ranked number one in the preseason poll as well, after Grayson Allen decided to return for his final season. Though Duke lost four of its five leading scorers from last season, it received 33 first place votes to Michigan State’s 13 in the AP preseason poll due to its absolutely ridiculous recruiting class that now surrounds Allen.
Six of Duke’s seven freshman cracked ESPN’s 2017 Top 100 recruits, four of which (Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter Jr, Trevon Duval, and Gary Trent Jr) were ranked as five-star recruits and fell within ESPN’s top 10 overall incoming freshmen. In fact, Bagley was the top-ranked recruit in the 2017 class. The lowest rated of the four, Trent Jr, was still ESPN’s eighth best incoming freshman.
Duke’s freshmen have performed as anticipated early in the season. Each of the four previous mentioned freshmen are averaging at least 10 points per game so far. Bagley is leading Duke in both points and rebounds, with averages of 24.5 and 10.
The 1-0 Spartans, led by Miles Bridges and Nick Ward, also have an impressive group of players surrounding them. Though Michigan State only signed two recruits prior to the 2017-’18 season, both were big named players. Jaren Jackson Jr, a five-star recruit listed ninth overall by ESPN, scored 13 points and collected 13 rebounds in his collegiate debut last weekend. Four-star recruit and ESPN’s 74th best incoming freshman, Xavier Tillman, scored four points and grabbed three boards in MSU’s first game, though he only played 11 minutes.
The amount of talent on the floor during this marquee matchup in Chicago tomorrow will make fans’ mouths water. For either team, picking up a win will most likely result in the most significant resume-building win for either team come tournament time in March. This should be one for the ages, buckle up.
- Pick Against The Spread: Michigan State
-Cleveland State Vikings at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
- Time/TV: 7:00PM ET - BTN
- KenPom Spread: Rutgers (-10)
After opening the season with a convincing victory over non-D1 City College of New York, Rutgers barely held on to beat Central Connecticut, who won only six games last season. The Scarlet Knights led by 15 with under four minutes to play, but the Blue Devils gave Rutgers a run for its money late.
Though the 71-67 final score may have been a little closer than the game truly was, a more dominating performance against Cleveland State would be encouraging for Scarlet Knights fans. The Vikings only won nine games last season and no longer have leading scorer Rob Edwards, who transferred to Arizona State after scoring 16.5 points per game last season. This should be an easy one for Rutgers.
- Pick Against The Spread: Rutgers
-No. 19 Purdue Boilermakers at Marquette Golden Eagles
- Time/TV: 8:30PM ET - FS1
- KenPom Spread: Purdue (-1)
The Boilermakers’ offense has opened the season firing on all cylinders. Though both of its games were against inferiors opponents, Purdue has managed to score at least 105 points in each game. However, a blowout victory against a talented Marquette team shouldn’t be anticipated.
The Golden Eagles returned two of their three leading scorers from last season’s 19-win campaign in Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey. Marquette also added a solid group of recruits, headlined by four-star Jamal Cain and three-star Theo John. The Golden Eagles are setting themselves up to earn back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths for the first time since they made the tournament eight consecutive times between 2006 and 2013. This game between two teams likely to play in March should go down to the very end.
- Pick Against The Spread: Marquette
Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 0-0