Conference play opened up for the Big Ten on Friday night with a handful of great matchups and it will continue on Saturday with even more. The highlight will be Purdue traveling to face Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Let’s take a look at today’s Big Ten action.
Game of the Day:
-Purdue Boilermakers at Michigan Wolverines
- Time/TV: 3:30PM ET (ESPN)
- KenPom Spread: Michigan (-5)
With the Big Ten’s expansion to 20 games in conference play, fans are still getting used to league games in November and December. It’s still a bit odd to transition from the Big Ten/ACC Challenge straight into marquee Big Ten matchups, but that’s the new reality.
But if games like this in December are the new norm, fans will get used to it.
On Saturday afternoon, Purdue will travel to Ann Arbor to face a red hot Michigan team. The Wolverines are 7-0, already have wins over North Carolina and Villanova, and boast the nation’s top defense. Most experts consider Michigan to be the league favorite.
Purdue, meanwhile, enters the game with a bit less momentum. The Boilermakers are coming off a road loss to Florida State and have yet to score a top 50 win. But the team is still 5-2 with both of its losses coming against top 20 teams away from home. Add in that Purdue was in position to win both games late and it’s easy to see Purdue’s potential.
This matchup is largely going to hinge on how Michigan defends Carsen Edwards. Undoubtedly, that effort will start with Zavier Simpson. The two had some great matchups last year and this should be just another chapter.
Interior play is also going to be another big part of this matchup. Purdue relies extensively on its scoring outside the arc, but Michigan’s defense is going to slow that down. The Boilermakers need to find ways to score inside as well. Evan Boudreaux needs to show up.
All told, this looks like a fantastic matchup. Michigan and Purdue’s battles have been some of the Big Ten’s best over the last few years and fans shouldn’t expect anything different on Saturday.
- Pick Against the Spread: Purdue
-Northwestern Wildcats at Indiana Hoosiers
- Time/TV: 1:00PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Indiana (-7)
Although this game isn’t going to turn many heads nationally, it’s actually a pretty intriguing one for the league. Indiana enters this game coming off a rough loss on the road to Duke and Northwestern comes in with some momentum after beating Georgia Tech. This feels like a game that could send both teams spinning with a loss.
The key matchup will be Romeo Langford against Northwestern’s backcourt of Anthony Gaines and Ryan Taylor. It seems like a mismatch on paper in favor of the Hoosiers, but we will see on Saturday. The Wildcats will need to try and slow Indiana down there.
- Pick Against the Spread: Indiana
-Penn State Nittany Lions at Maryland Terrapins
- Time/TV: 1:00PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Maryland (-4)
Despite Maryland and Penn State having a combined 10-3 record through the first month of the season, it’s pretty hard to get a good read on either of these teams. Maryland is 6-1, but hasn’t beaten anyone of consequence and Penn State is 4-2 with one elite win and two bad losses. As such, Saturday’s matchup feels like a major wildcard.
The key matchup for this one is going to be inside. Can the Terps slow down Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins? Stevens had 14 points against Virginia Tech earlier this week and Watkins had seven rebounds and three steals in 21 minutes of play. The pressure will be on Bruno Fernando. This is a game both teams need moving forward.
- Pick Against the Spread: Maryland
Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 9-7-0