It’ll be Sunday Fun Day for Big Ten basketball fans this week with two big time matchups on today’s slate.
Today’s schedule features a pair of nationally televised games with the first being a battle between No. 6 Michigan State and Maryland, and the second matchup pitting hated rivals No. 3 Purdue and Indiana. All four of these teams are still in contention for the NCAA Tournament and could use these wins for different reasons.
With this possibly being the best Sunday slate all season, let’s dive into these two matchups and take a closer look at what could determine each game.
Big Ten Game of the Day:
No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers at Indiana Hoosiers
- Time/TV: 3:30PM ET/FOX
- KenPom Spread: Purdue (-12)
Who doesn’t love a good ole fashion rivalry game? Because that’s what we got in today’s Purdue-Indiana matchup. It should also be a good game if the Cream-and-Crimson come ready to play.
The Boilermakers will put their 16-game winning streak on the line today as they travel to Bloomington for their lone matchup this season against the Hoosiers. Purdue has been one of the country’s best teams this year, and currently sit as the only Big Ten team without a conference loss.
A number of things have led to Purdue’s recent domination, and one of those is great shooting. Purdue ranks in the top 40 in field goal percentage and has been incredible behind the arc with a 44.2 three-point shooting percent — that ranks second nationally. Another key element on this team is their ability to share the rock with 406 assists on the season — that ranks third in the country. That may also explain why all five starters average at least 8.8 points per game. Purdue is simply loaded and one of the country’s best offensive squads.
Indiana hasn’t been as impressive offensively as Purdue, but they do have a few scoring threats in junior forward Juwan Morgan and senior guard Robert Johnson. The two combine for nearly 30 points per game, and have been especially impressive lately. Morgan is averaging 26.5 points and seven rebounds in the two games since rolling his ankle last week against Michigan State. Johnson scored only eight points in Wednesday’s loss to Illinois, but before that he had recorded double-digit point totals in 10 straight games. Simply put, both of these guys can put up big numbers and they’ll need to in this game.
Another key element in this matchup is the home court advantage for the Hoosiers. Indiana is 4-0 in home Big Ten games with wins over Northwestern, Iowa, Penn State and most recently Maryland. The Hoosiers also fought hard against Duke in their home tilt during the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. However, it should also be mentioned Indiana got rolled by Indiana State and Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne at home earlier this year. What’s that mean? The Hoosiers get up for big time home games but sometimes lay an egg against lower quality opponents. So that should bode well for Indiana in this primere matchup against Purdue.
On paper Purdue is simply the better team. They have proven that all season long and should win this game pretty easily. However, rivalry games always feature different elements — look at Michigan’s win over Michigan State earlier this year — and the game is at Assembly Hall, where the Hoosiers have been solid lately. So with that, I expect the Hoosiers to keep this one close throughout and possibly even pull off the upset if Purdue finally cools off from three-point range.
- Pick Against The Spread: Indiana
-No. 6 Michigan State Spartans at Maryland Terrapins
- Time/TV: 1:00PM ET/CBS
- KenPom Spread: Michigan State (-4)
The appetizer for the game of the day is just as good with the Spartans heading to College Park in possibly a must-win situation for Maryland.
Michigan State dominated the first matchup between these two teams, winning by 30 points at the Breslin Center. The Spartans simply didn’t miss that evening, shooting 57.1 percent from the field and three-point range. Maryland also failed to force turnovers, with the normally turnover-happy Spartans only committing seven. So this game should be a lot closer as long as the Terps play some better defense today.
Michigan State enters this matchup with convincing victories in their last three games. The Spartans have outscored their last three opponents by an average of 18.7 points. Michigan State has shot the ball very well in each of those games, with an astonishing 56.7 shooting percentage from the field and 45.8 three-point shooting percentage. It’s tough to beat anyone when they are shooting that well, especially a team as talented as Michigan State.
While the Spartans have picked up wins recently, I’d be ignoring the giant elephant in the room if I didn’t bring up the recent ESPN report involving sexual assault in Michigan State athletics, including the basketball program. I won’t get into the details of that, but these reports could certainly be a distraction for the Spartans and possibly play a role in this game.
As for Maryland, the Terps enter this tilt with losses in three of their last four games. However, all of those losses came on the road and the lone win was a nice performance against Minnesota. As we know by now, Maryland is led offensively by sophomore guards Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter. The two combine for 30.6 points per game and serve as outside shooting threats. Both have been extremely consistent this year and should again play a role in today’s game.
This will be the fourth game in 10 days for Michigan State, while Maryland hasn’t taken the floor since Monday. That could be a factor in this game that favors the Terps. At the beginning of the season I marked this as one of the games Michigan State would lose. However, the injuries for Maryland have affected this team, and the Spartans understand they can’t afford anymore conference losses right now.
- Pick Against The Spread: Michigan State
Record against the spread this season: 19-14-1