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1/6 Big Ten Preview: Nebraska Set to Visit Purdue

BTP previews Saturday for the Big Ten.

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Purdue Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

With Big Ten play restarting earlier this week, drama has been building across the league. Teams are trying to add some quality wins before it gets too late. And with a down Big Ten, the pressure is even bigger for a lot of teams.

As such, let’s take a look at Saturday’s action.

Game of the Day

-Nebraska Cornhuskers at Purdue Boilermakers

  • Time/TV: 2:15PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Purdue (-17)

While this game may not have the national appeal for a major Saturday matchup, this one is a lot more interesting than many might expect. Both teams are playing their best basketball of the season and are set to tangle on Saturday afternoon. It should be an interesting test for a resilient Husker squad and a loaded Boilermaker team.

For Nebraska, the season started rough, but the Huskers have done a great job at getting back on track. The team is 8-3 over its last 11 games with the only losses coming on the road to Creighton and Michigan State and at home to Kansas. During that stretch, Nebraska also scored solid wins over Boston College and Minnesota.

On the other side, Purdue is looking for its final tuneup before it goes into a more challenging portion of its Big Ten slate. The Boilermakers have won 10 in a row, with the last six of those wins coming by double-digits. Purdue is now up to fourth nationally on KenPom and in serious Big Ten title contention.

The matchup to watch in this one will be in the backcourt. No Husker might be more important to the team’s chances than Glynn Watson and Purdue will be looking to slow him down. When Watson has an offensive rating above 100, Nebraska is 9-1. However, when Watson is below that threshold, Nebraska is 2-4. This will be a big test for Dakota Mathias and PJ Thompson.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Purdue

The Rest:

-Illinois Fighting Illini at Michigan Wolverines

  • Time/TV: 12:00PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan (-10)

After a 6-0 start to the season, Illini fans were hopeful that Illinois might be able to resurrect what looked like a down year on paper and turn it into something more. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. Illinois now sits at 10-6 overall and 0-3 in Big Ten play heading into Saturday. The team’s postseason hopes are now largely a distant memory and Brad Underwood and his staff are just trying to win some games.

On the other side, Michigan has been trending up over the last few weeks. The Wolverines have won six in a row, including twice on the road and quality games against Texas and UCLA. Many think Michigan could be the third-best team in the league and Wolverine fans are certainly hoping the team can prove it going forward.

Simply put, Saturday’s matchup is one where Michigan will be looking to take care of business at home. The prime matchup to watch will be Leron Black going against a Wolverine frontcourt that hasn’t been great defensively. Look for him to get some mismatches against Duncan Robinson and Moritz Wagner. He will need to fantastic for the Illini to have a chance on Saturday.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Michigan

-Indiana Hoosiers at Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Time/TV: 5:15PM ET (ESPN2)
  • KenPom Spread: Minnesota (-10)

On paper, this game didn’t look all that intriguing earlier this week. Indiana sits at just 8-7 overall and hasn’t beaten a top 50 team on the road since its Big Ten title team in 2015-’16. KenPom had Minnesota favored significantly and it appeared as if this would be a relatively manageable game for the Gophers.

But that was until this week’s drama unfolded.

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Minnesota center Reggie Lynch would be suspended due to sexual assault allegations stemming from an incident in 2016. It was shocking news for a program that has dealt with similar issues in the past. As a result, Lynch will be suspended going forward.

However, putting aside the legal and ethical implications of the allegations, there’s also no denying that Lynch’s suspension will have a tremendous impact on the floor. He’s been one of the Big Ten’s best defenders and was the centerpiece of Minnesota’s play on the defensive side of the floor. The Gophers do not have a replacement for him.

Given these circumstances, Indiana has a great opportunity to take advantage. Unfortunately, the Hoosiers will be down someone themselves. De’Ron Davis will be out indefinitely with injury. Nonetheless, expect Minnesota to have its hands full with Juwan Morgan. This should be a competitive game.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Indiana