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2/10 Big Ten Preview: Michigan State and Purdue Face Off In Top Five Showdown

Preview the Big Ten’s action on Saturday.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s the day. After months of buildup and plenty of action across the league, fans are finally going to get to see Michigan State and Purdue battle it out on Saturday afternoon. All signs point to an absolute classic. However, the league will also get a handful of other games on Saturday that should be worth checking out.

Let’s take a look at the day’s games.

Game of the Day

-Purdue Boilermakers at Michigan State Spartans

  • Time/TV: 4:00PM ET (ESPN)
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan State (-1)

Well, it’s finally here. Unlike some of the games on today’s docket, this one isn’t remotely difficult to sell. This is a top five matchup between two teams in the heart of the Big Ten title race. The Spartans have won seven straight and the Boilermakers won 19 straight before falling at home to Ohio State earlier this week.

So, yeah, this is going to be an absolute battle.

Perhaps the most interesting matchup in this game will come in the backcourt. Most will focus on the frontcourt with how much talent will be there on both sides. However, I think the backcourt play determines this game. It’s been a huge issue for the Spartans this season and how the guards perform will likely determine the outcome on Saturday.

The big question mark will be how Michigan State can do on the offensive side of the floor. Can the guards get the ball inside and avoid turnovers? Josh Langford and Cassius Winston have struggled with these issues against better teams and Carsen Edwards and PJ Thompson are more than capable of making things difficult.

For Purdue, the key is going to be staying consistent on defense and getting back on track on offense. The Boilermakers only produced 0.95 points per possession on Wednesday against the Buckeyes and will be facing one of the nation’s toughest defenses on Saturday. Vincent Edwards, in particular, will be an x-factor.

This one has all the makings of a classic. Buckle up and tune in.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Purdue

The Rest:

-Northwestern Wildcats at Maryland Terrapins

  • Time/TV: 12:00PM ET (ESPN2)
  • KenPom Spread: Maryland (-6)

It’s been a mixed week for these two teams coming into Saturday’s matchup. Northwestern scored a huge win over Michigan on Tuesday to improve to 4-1 over the team’s last five games, but Maryland suffered a tough loss on the road to Penn State after looking like it had gotten back on the right track over the weekend.

Northwestern will now enter this game looking to continue to build momentum heading into the Big Ten Tournament, while Maryland desperately needs to beat the Wildcats to stay in the NCAA Tournament hunt. The matchup to watch will be in the backcourt where Anthony Cowan faces off against Bryant McIntosh.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Maryland

-Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Time/TV: 4:00PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Nebraska (-11)

Perhaps no game will be more important for the Big Ten on Saturday than this one. Not because it’s a marquee matchup, but because of its RPI implications for the Huskers. After winning six of the team’s last seven games, Nebraska is starting to look like a legitimate NCAA Tournament contender. However, a home loss to Rutgers would derail that.

This is the second time these two have faced off this season, after a matchup on January 24th in Piscataway where Nebraska won by a final score of 60-54. Fans will want to keep their eyes more on who might be off the court than on it. The Scarlet Knights are facing injury issues with Eugene Omoruyi and Mike Williams. If those two don’t play, Nebraska should be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Nebraska

-Iowa Hawkeyes at Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time/TV: 6:00PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Ohio State (-14)

On paper, there isn’t much to sell about this game. Ohio State is 21-5 overall and is coming off its best win of the season on the road against Purdue. Meanwhile, Iowa is sitting at 12-14 overall and has lost three of its last four games. As such, there aren’t a lot of reasons to think the Hawkeyes can score a road win of this magnitude.

However, that doesn’t mean this game isn’t important. Ohio State is now tied for first place in the Big Ten standings and in serious position to win the regular season title after beating the Boilermakers earlier this week. A loss to Iowa would be a big hit for the hopes. As such, there’s a lot riding on this one, even if it’s not a marquee matchup.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Iowa

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Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 17-31-1