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1/3 Big Ten Preview: Four Ranked Teams In Action

Preview the Big Ten’s slate for Thursday.

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

The Big Ten has a loaded slate on Thursday night with four ranked teams in action. Key matchups include Iowa at Purdue and Minnesota at Wisconsin. It should be a fun night of college basketball.

Let’s take a look at today’s Big Ten action.

Game of the Day:

-Iowa Hawkeyes at Purdue Boilermakers

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Purdue (-7)

This game might not be getting a ton of attention nationally, but it’s an important matchup that will have a significant impact on shaping the Big Ten in the months to come. Both teams really need a win and a loss would mean quite a bit of pressure going forward.

For Iowa, this is a chance to get the team’s first Big Ten and road wins of the season. The Hawkeyes have played pretty well so far, but loaded up on a lot of inferior competition in non-conference play. This is the team’s first real game since December 6th. If Iowa is going to bump up from Big Ten afterthought, this is a game it needs to win.

And for Purdue, this is a huge opportunity to add a marquee win heading into a really tough back-to-back against Michigan State and Wisconsin on the road. Purdue has let a lot of games slip away so far this season and needs to find a way to close things out in the final minutes. This should be a key opportunity.

Expect a pretty high scoring game. Carsen Edwards and Tyler Cook will be the players to watch. Iowa will need to find a way to slow down Edwards to have a shot.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Purdue

The Rest:

-Illinois Fighting Illini at Indiana Hoosiers

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Indiana (-13)

A few days ago, this probably didn’t look like that intriguing of a game. However, after Indiana learned that a few key players were still struggling with injuries, this one got a far more intriguing. In particular, the absence of Rob Phinisee looms large over this matchup. How Indiana reacts will tell a lot about the Hoosiers.

Still, even with injuries, Indiana should win this game. Expect Illinois to keep things close for awhile, but fade in the second half. The Illini are simply hoping to play spoiler after starting at just 4-9 overall this season.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Indiana

-Penn State Nittany Lions at Michigan Wolverines

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET (ESPN)
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan (-11)

On paper, there’s no debating that Michigan is the favorite in this game. Not only are the Wolverines a better team, but they’re also playing at home and are undefeated on the season. In fact, Michigan has now won 15 in a row in Crisler and will be looking for number 16 on Thursday night against the Nittany Lions.

But even if Michigan is better and is playing at home, there is some upset potential here. Michigan hasn’t been playing all that great lately and let underwhelming teams like South Carolina and Western Michigan hang around recently. Penn State also nearly beat Maryland on the road and Indiana at home to start December. If the Nittany Lions can get a big night from Mike Watkins, this one should be close throughout.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Penn State

-Minnesota Golden Gophers at Wisconsin Badgers

  • Time/TV: 9:00PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Wisconsin (-11)

Thursday night’s loaded Big Ten slate will conclude with another rivalry battle between Minnesota and Wisconsin. The game will be played in Madison and the Badgers will be looking for the program’s ninth straight victory over the Gophers. Minnesota’s last win was in January of 2014 and Gopher fans will be hoping that streak ends on Thursday.

As has been the case with Wisconsin for a few years running, this one will be decided in the paint. The Gophers are going to need a plan to slow down Ethan Happ. The pressure will be on true freshman Daniel Oturu to avoid foul trouble. If he can hold his own on the defensive end, Minnesota has a shot to keep things close. However, Wisconsin projects to come out on top at the end of the night.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Wisconsin

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Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 35-28-2