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1/25 Big Ten Preview: Purdue and Ohio State look to stay perfect in conference play

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While Michigan looks for revenge over the Boilermakers and Penn State tries to stagger to its feet

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

As someone who’s been known to dabble with the occasional point spread or over/under, college basketball lines have always been a fairly safe place to lay down some, eh, units, with a fairly high return on investment.

For some reason, Vegas has never quite found the right formula to accurately reflect the margin between each teams talent level. Looking at a college hoops point spread typically results in one team quickly jumping out as either too big a dog or too low a favorite.

Without patting myself on the back too much, that’s what’s allowed me to put together a modest winning percentage when it comes to picking games this year.

That said, I have no idea what to make of Thursday’s slate.

Is Purdue 13 points better than Michigan? Maybe. Is Penn State capable of losing by less than 11? Sure. Could they also get run out of the gym in Columbus? You bet.

Or wait. Don’t bet. Not on either of these games at least. My picks this week are going to be crap shoots.

On the bright side that should at least amount to some fairly exciting, and if nothing else, interesting contests to take in this evening.

**In the event I hit both of these correctly, ignore everything written above here**

Big Ten Game of the Day

-No. 25 Michigan Wolverines at No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET - ESPN2
  • KenPom Spread: Purdue (-13)

So now seems like a good time to show Purdue some respect, right? I mean the Boilermakers are in the middle of a 15-game winning streak which has placed Purdue at the No. 3 slot in the AP Poll along with garnering one lonely vote to be the top ranked team in the land.

On top of that, if not for his recent recognition as Big Ten Player of the Week you could argue that Carsen Edwards is flying under-the-radar for a player averaging 17.2 points per game in only 27 minutes of game action.

Adding in the recent play of Vincent Edwards along with the hope that Isaac Haas rebounds from a few shaky performances and you have the makings of a Purdue team looking to make its first Elite Eight since 1999-’00.

In fact, since the Big Ten started back up in earnest the Boilermakers have beaten five of its six conference opponents by double-digits.

Needless to say, the Boilermakers should roll over the Wolverines in West Lafayette, yes?

Welllllllllllll hold on a sec.

Outside of a drubbing at the hands of Nebraska, Michigan has managed to put together a fairly impressive run of its own as of late.

Mortiz Wagner continues to be der mann in Ann Arbor and as he goes, so do the Wolverines, evident by his 1-for-5 shooting night against the Cornhuskers leading to the aforementioned drubbing.

Oh and remember how Purdue has blown out all but one of it’s last six Big Ten opponents? The outlier just happens to be Michigan in a game the Boilermakers escaped with a 70-69 win thanks to some last second free throws.

Purdue absolutely should win this game. And if its able to limit Wagner, very well could cover. But I like the Wolverines to at least keep this one in single digits.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Michigan

The Rest

-Penn State Nittany Lions at No. 13 Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time/TV: 8:00PM ET - BTN
  • KenPom Spread: Ohio State (-11.5)

One of the four teams in action Thursday night is not like the other. COUGH it’s the Nittany Lions COUGH who have lost four of its last six COUGH and look like a team that’s just going through the motions COUGH.

Ugh sorry, I must have caught that flu which is going around.

Focusing on the positives, how good have the Buckeyes been? With each passing game, I continue to be more and more impressed with the play of Chris Holtmann’s team.

Coming into the season as an afterthought, Ohio State looks every bit the No. 13 team in the nation, a ranking its absolutely earned.

Keita Bates-Diop was my midseason pick for Big Ten Player of the Year and if the trophy engraver is reading this, go ahead and get a head start on that plaque.

What’s even scarier about this team is I don’t think its full potential has been reached yet. This is a group that can continue to improve and impress as the calendar starts to turn towards March.

Over in Sad Valley, the expectations for Pat Chambers and Co. have dwindled down from make the NCAA Tournament to make the NIT to just avoid playing on the first day of the Big Ten Tournament.

What continues to be frustrating is that Penn State has been a much worse team than the sum of its parts. Individually the Nittany Lions have good players capable of doing great things. But the ingredients just haven’t been able to mesh together to make a great dish. For example, shrimp cocktail and chocolate ice cream are great on there own, as are Tony Carr, Mike Watkins, and Lamar Stevens. But put those two items together and its Barf City.

Anointing a basketball team with the moniker of Barf City is never a good sign.

So yeah, go with the Buckeyes.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Ohio State

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Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 20-12-1