The third full day of league play in the Big Ten may just be the best day thus far in the season. Saturday featured three pretty solid matchups, but Sunday looks even better with four games on the board today.
The KenPom betting spreads suggest that we are looking at three blowouts and only one good game. However, I’m not sold on that theory and expect this to be an interesting slate of games. Let’s check out previews for today’s games.
Big Ten Game of the Day
Northwestern Wildcats at Purdue Boilermakers
- Time/TV: 4:00PM ET/BTN
- KenPom Spread: Purdue (-11)
At the beginning of the season, these were supposed to be two of the better teams in the league. However, so far only one team has lived up to that.
Both Purdue and Northwestern were ranked entering this season but now find themselves sitting outside of those rankings. Both have already dropped a few games, but a win over Northwestern would cap off a great week for the Boilermakers.
Purdue has already picked up two wins this week -- home against No. 17 Louisville and a road victory over Maryland. Both of those wins came after an impressive neutral court victory over then-No. 2 Arizona, although that ranking really doesn’t mean anything now. What this little stretch does mean, though, is that Purdue is getting into a grove and beginning to live up to its expectations.
For Northwestern, it’s been a tough go at times this year. Like Purdue, Northwestern is 1-0 in league play but its Friday night home victory over rival Illinois was anything but impressive. The Wildcats haven’t strung together two straight wins since the first two games of the season with losses to Creighton, Texas Tech and Georgia Tech.
One could argue this may be the biggest blowout of the day based on how these two teams are playing. I don’t think that’s the case, despite the recent struggles of Northwestern. Both of these teams are going to make the NCAA Tournament, and the Wildcats will keep it close throughout in this one. Purdue has too much size up front and sophomore guard Carsen Edwards has been dominant this year so the Boilermakers will win in a close battle. Home court is also a factor that benefits Purdue.
Pick Against The Spread: Northwestern
Nebraska Cornhuskers at No. 3 Michigan State Spartans
- Time/TV: 4:30PM ET/FS1
- KenPom Spread: Michigan State (-18)
On paper this is supposed to be the biggest blowout of the day. Will that be the case? If Michigan State plays like it has in the past two games then it very well could be.
The Spartans have picked up a pair of wins over top 10 teams over the past week, both of which were by double-digits. Sophomore guard Josh Langford has led the way in both of those games for Michigan State with 23 points against North Carolina and 17 points against Notre Dame. Langford may cool off in this one, but there are so many offensive threats on this Spartans’ team for Nebraska to keep up.
The spread is a lot for a league game, but Michigan State is playing great ball right now and there’s no reason why it won’t continue against the Cornhuskers.
Pick Against The Spread: Michigan State
Rutgers Scarlet Knights at No. 12 Minnesota Golden Gophers
- Time/TV: 6:00PM ET/BTN
- KenPom Spread: Minnesota (-13.5)
Both Minnesota and Rutgers enter this matchup coming off their first losses of the season, both losing at home during the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Rutgers has been a pleasant surprise so far this year, but if you look at last year it wasn’t until conference play before we saw the real Scarlet Knights.
A road trip to Minnesota will be very tough for Rutgers, and if they are able to pull the upset then it’ll be time to show them some respect. Keep an eye on Nate Mason vs. Corey Sanders. Sanders will have to outduel Mason to give his Scarlet Knights any chance at pulling off the upset.
Pick Against The Spread: Minnesota
Maryland Terrapins at Illinois Fighting Illini
- Time/TV: 8:00PM ET/BTN
- KenPom Spread: Maryland (-3.5)
The final game of the day pits a pair of teams that dropped their first Big Ten game on Friday, but this could possibly be the most interesting matchup of the day. At this point in the year, we still don’t really know what to expect from either of these teams. Maryland looks like a NCAA Tournament team, and Illinois still seems a bit away.
However, the Fighting Illini have gotten some really solid offensive production so far this year with five different players averaging 10 or more points. This will be a good test for both teams as neither want to start 0-2 in the league.
Pick Against The Spread: Illinois
Record against the spread this season: 11-10