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Week Fourteen: BTP Game of the Week: Purdue Boilermakers at Michigan State Spartans

Purdue Looks to Lock Down Big Ten Title

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

After weeks filled with compelling, but less than spectacular marquee games, the Big Ten season finally arrives at its inflection point. Every observer circled February 10th as soon as the schedules were released, but could anyone have predicted a matchup of this consequence?

Lest we forget that so much rides on Purdue’s matchup with the Big Ten’s second place team Wednesday: beat the Boilermakers, and Ohio State has a clear path to their first Big Ten championship since 2012. Either way, Purdue/Michigan State has to be the game of the week and the best league game of the year so far.

Game of the Week:

- Purdue Boilermakers at Michigan State Spartans

A Top 10 matchup in the Big Ten typically feels like a semi-regular occurrence, not a season-defining event. Alas, this is not a typical year in the Big Ten, or in college basketball. Most pundits place Purdue at the bottom of a clearly-delineated top 3 which finds Michigan State, formidable but lacking a schedule befitting of a top contender, on the outside looking in. The Spartans could easily flip that script Saturday while putting themselves right back in the thick of the Big Ten race.

Win or lose, Michigan State is still a national title contender this year. In that context, it will be interesting to see how the sports media continues to handle coverage of the school’s turmoil. Tom Izzo has vaguely promised to speak on the investigations, former and ongoing, involving his school and his program, though perhaps not until season’s end. It’s hard not to think that survivors, students, administrators, fans, etc. deserve better than that.

Honorable Mention:

- Ohio State Buckeyes at Purdue Boilermakers

In the first 10 minutes of Sunday’s game, Illinois was able to exploit the absence of Kam Williams to turn over and frustrate the Buckeyes while getting out in transition. Once they settled in, Ohio State used their size to punish Illinois on the glass and isolate Keita Bates-Diop against the less experienced Illini. Purdue offers no such mismatches. Moreover, the Buckeyes can’t count on the Boilermakers to make such unforgivable errors, such as losing Andrew Dakich on a back door cut.

Neither of these teams has looked invincible but both are well-coached and have shown poise in close games. After getting a scare in Piscataway, I wouldn’t expect Purdue to get caught sleeping in their biggest regular season game in recent memory (until later this week, that is).

- Maryland Terrapins at Nebraska Cornhuskers

The league’s bubble teams do battle in Lincoln as Nebraska looks to take care of business on their way to perhaps their best season since joining the Big Ten. On the other hand, this is a game that Maryland can’t afford to lose – in fact, there are few if any of these left on the schedule for the Terps.

Worst Game of the Week:

-Wisconsin Badgers at Illinois Fighting Illini

While the season is going nowhere for these teams, this game could tell us a lot about the direction of the programs. Conventional wisdom has Illinois trending slowly up while Wisconsin trends sharply down. The game these teams played in Madison completely contradicted that – Illinois needs a better showing to prove they are moving in the right direction under Brad Underwood.

Season Stats:

Game of the Week Appearances by Team:

  • Iowa – 1
  • Maryland – 2
  • Michigan – 5
  • Michigan State – 5
  • Nebraska – 1
  • Northwestern – 1
  • Purdue – 5
  • Wisconsin – 1

Game of the Week Honorable Mention Appearances by Team:

  • Illinois – 1
  • Indiana – 3
  • Iowa – 1
  • Maryland – 6
  • Michigan – 1
  • Michigan State – 3
  • Minnesota – 6
  • Nebraska – 5
  • Northwestern – 2
  • Ohio State – 5
  • Penn State – 3
  • Purdue – 2
  • Wisconsin – 4

Total Appearances by Team:

  • Illinois – 1
  • Indiana – 3
  • Iowa – 2
  • Maryland – 8
  • Michigan – 6
  • Michigan State – 8
  • Minnesota – 6
  • Nebraska – 6
  • Northwestern – 3
  • Ohio State – 5
  • Penn State – 3
  • Purdue – 7
  • Wisconsin – 5

Worst Game Appearances by Team:

  • Illinois – 4
  • Indiana – 1
  • Iowa – 3
  • Michigan – 1
  • Michigan State – 1
  • Nebraska – 1
  • Northwestern – 1
  • Ohio State – 1
  • Purdue – 1
  • Rutgers – 3
  • Wisconsin – 3