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3/5 Big Ten Preview: Purdue Travels to Evanston

Plus three other games in the final day of the regular season.

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Purdue
Two of the top teams of the Big Ten battle from Evanston on the final day of the regular season
Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

The last day of the regular season is upon us and there is still so much at stake in the Big Ten.

Saturday’s three games produced two surprising victories (Rutgers and Indiana) and one of the best shots of the year in Melo Trimble’s buzzer-beater over Michigan State.

Today’s games still have a lot of impact on Big Ten Tournament seeding. Purdue is the only team that is locked in as the number one seed.

You can preview Sunday’s block of games below. All lines are courtesy of VegasInsider.

Big Ten Game of the Day:

-Purdue Boilermakers at Northwestern Wildcats

  • TV/Time: 4:30 PM ET on CBS
  • Spread: Purdue (-3.5)

Both teams ended with post-game celebrations in their last game.

Purdue defeated Indiana on Tuesday to win at least a share of the Big Ten title for the first time since 2010. That share became an outright title after Wisconsin lost to Iowa on Thursday.

Northwestern defeated Michigan at home on Wednesday with a dramatic full-court pass from Nathan Taphorn to Dererk Pardon for a buzzer-beating lay-up. The win likely solidified Northwestern’s first NCAA Tournament bid in school history.

For Northwestern (21-9, 10-7) to pull off an upset today they need to defend, stay out of foul trouble and find some offensive consistency.

Defensively, they face a choice of honing in on Purdue’s imposing front court or running shooters off the three-point line. I think the choice today will be to use their length to put pressure on Purdue’s guards to thwart three-point attempts and entry passes in the post.

Offensively, Northwestern hasn’t scored more than 70 points since late January. Purdue will put the ball in the hoop, so the Wildcats need to shoot well from deep.

Purdue (24-6, 13-4) wins today by staying disciplined on defense and pounding the ball into the paint. Northwestern likes to drive and breakdown people off the dribble, but if Purdue’s defenders can keep players like Bryant McIntosh in front of them, things could be trouble for the Wildcats.

The chief goal of the Boilermaker offense should be getting Dererk Pardon in foul trouble. The Wildcats have little behind him, and collapsing the post will open up three-point shots from players like Dakota Mathias and Ryan Cline.

Expect this one to be hotly contested, but one the Boilermakers win pulling away in the second half.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Purdue (-3.5)

The Rest:

-Penn State Nittany Lions at Iowa Hawkeyes

  • TV/Time: 1:00 PM ET on BTN
  • Spread: Iowa (-6)

The red-hot Hawkeyes (17-13, 9-8) host the Nittany Lions (14-16, 6-11) Sunday afternoon from Iowa City.

Iowa enters the game on a three-game winning streak and suddenly in the NCAA Tournament conversation. Lunardi has the Hawkeyes as one of his “Next Four Out” currently, and any continued conversation of Iowa making the tournament needs a Hawkeye win against Penn State.

Penn State enters the game on a four-game losing streak, though three of those games were by 10 points or less. The young Nittany Lions are playing for nothing but pride Sunday afternoon.

Iowa is playing really well right now, and their younger players such as Jordan Bohannon are working comfortably with their teammates and Coach Fran McCaffery’s system.

I expect Iowa to roll in this one. Peter Jok is due for a big game after two so-so performances in-a-row, and I think both backcourts match up comparatively. I would be surprised if Iowa did not cover.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Iowa (-6)

-Minnesota Golden Gophers at Wisconsin Badgers

  • TV/Time: 6:00 PM ET on BTN
  • Spread: Wisconsin (-6.5)

The game from Madison finds two teams trending in opposite directions.

The Badgers (22-8, 11-6) are 1-5 over their last six games. All five of those losses were to unranked teams.

Minnesota (23-7, 11-6) is riding high on an eight-game winning streak. A victory today would give the Gophers the 2-seed in next week’s tournament. Certainly improbable after they sat 15-7, 3-6 in late January.

I like the Golden Gophers in this one. I think their athleticism and front court defense could give Wisconsin some trouble. Like the first overtime game, expect this match up to be close one. Expect Nate Mason to give Wisconsin some trouble, but Minnesota will need to shoot well from distance to overwhelm a struggling Wisconsin offense.

Stick with the trends and take the Golden Gophers tonight.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Minnesota (+6.5)

-Michigan Wolverines at Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • TV/Time: 8:00 PM ET on BTN
  • Spread: Michigan (-4.5)

Michigan could be playing for a 7-seed tonight, depending how the Iowa/Penn State game goes and Nebraska could be anywhere from an 11-seed to a 13 depending on the game scenarios.

The Cornhuskers (12-17, 6-11) haven’t looked competitive since mid-February and Michigan (19-11, 9-8) is 5-2 over their last seven games.

The first meeting was a high-scoring affair from Ann Arbor that saw the Wolverines win 91-85. Moe Wagner led Michigan with 23 points, while Tai Webster scored 28.

I’m not sure similar scoring fireworks will happen tonight, but both teams can score with precision.

Expect the Wolverines to take care of business tonight. Wagner will again play well and Derrick Walton will continue his excellent second half of the Big Ten season.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Michigan (-4.5)