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1/8 Big Ten Preview: Two Huge Matchups

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Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan State, and Purdue will all be looking for a big win this evening

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Purdue Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Dare I say we’ve got two excellent games on tap for this cold and dreary Tuesday night? I do indeedy!

All four programs in action tonight will be looking to make a statement in some shape or form, so grab a pizza and your beverage of choice and settle in for an above-average night of Big Ten college hoops.

Game of the Day:

-Maryland Terrapins at Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET - BTN
  • KenPom Spread: Minnesota (-0.5)

You can go ahead and keep your ranked Spartans and upset-minded Boilermakers, I’m dubbing this scrappy showdown in Minneapolis as the conference’s Game of the Day.

Winners of six-straight, Minnesota takes the court fresh off an impressive 59-52 road win at Wisconsin in a game where junior guard Amir Coffey accounted for 21 of the Gophers 59 points. This output was especially necessary with second-leading scorer Jordan Murphy having an off night, and ultimately allowed Minnesota to run its season record to 12-2.

Notably, both of the Gophers losses have come away from Williams Arena, meaning coach Turgeon and his Terps will need to bring it Tuesday night to pull out a marquee road win.

That said, Maryland looks more than capable of pulling that off.

Since a pre-Christmas home loss to Seton Hall, the Terrapins have put together a nice run of play, picking up three wins including two over Big Ten foes to pull its conference record to 3-1.

Freshmen Jalen Smith averaged 15.5 points in the aforementioned conference wins against Nebraska and Rutgers, including hitting the game winner against the Cornhuskers for good measure.

A de facto tossup, both Maryland and Minnesota will look to make a statement Tuesday night and pick up a fairly important early January conference win.

And while the advance metrics favor the Terrapins, there seems to be some unexpected Gopher magic brewing in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Minnesota

The Rest:

-Purdue Boilermakers at No. 6 Michigan State Spartans

  • Time/TV: 9:00PM ET - ESPN2
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan State (-8.5)

There might not be a better team in the country right now, let alone the conference, than the No. 6 ranked Spartans.

With junior guard Joshua Langford out for Big Ten games against Northwestern and Ohio State, all Sparty managed to do was pick up two big wins, thanks in no short order to juniors Cassius Winston and Nick Ward.

Winston followed up a 12 assist outing against Northwestern by scoring 25 points on the road against a ranked Ohio State team, while Ward managed back-to-back nights of 21 points against the Wildcats and Buckeyes.

The two victories pushed Michigan State’s win streak to eight games, so yeah, you could say Sparty is clicking right now.

Purdue, on the other hand, is still looking to find its footing.

Carsen Edwards has been as advertised for the Boilermakers, averaging 25.5 points per game on 44-percent shooting, but head coach Matt Painter hasn’t quite identified a Robin to Edwards’ Batman.

This lack of a secondary option has manifested its way into a 9-5 overall record as fans in West Lafayette continue to wonder what the ceiling is for this year’s Purdue squad.

A win in East Lansing would go a long way to easing any fears of those around the Boilermaker program, but until otherwise noted, I see no reason to pick against Michigan State – and that’s especially so when Izzo and company are playing at the Breslin Center.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Michigan State

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Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 8-12