There are two Big Ten games today with a doubleheader set to kick off this early evening on BTN.
Game of the Day
Northwestern Wildcats at Purdue Boilermakers
- Time/TV: 5:00 PM ET (BTN)
Purdue will look to build off of their 69-40 win over top five and defending national champion Virginia. Northwestern will try to win back-to-back games for the second time this year.
The Boilermakers haven’t had the most consistent scoring offense this year and a got big push with Sasha Stefanovic hitting 6 of 10 from three in a starting role against the Cavaliers. Purdue’s offense has been inconsistent, but they do have a number of guys who can score and plenty of size inside. The key to Purdue this year will likely be their defense, which has been outstanding so far. Coming off of holding the fifth ranked team to 40 points Purdue is now allowing 56.1 points per game, currently good for tenth in the nation.
That’s problematic for Northwestern because they currently are 259th in the nation in scoring, 248th in three point percentage and 226th in field goal percentage. That’s also going up against only two teams this season that are in the KenPom Top 100...and those teams are Providence and Pittsburgh, both of which came at home. Miller Kopp had a big game against Boston College, leading the team with 20 points, but should face a bigger test inside today. Both Trevion Williams and Matt Haarms have shown they can be game changers on the defensive side of the ball.
With Purdue’s offense stalling periodically there’s always going to be a chance they struggle to score and allow lesser teams to hang around. But considering Northwestern’s lowly offense, Purdue’s stout defense and the fact that this game is at Mackey...look for Purdue to start off conference play with a win.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights at #11 Michigan State Spartans
- Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET (BTN)
Michigan State entered the season as the top ranked team in the nation and one of the main contenders to win a title. So losing three of their first eight games wasn’t exactly where they expected to be. On the other hand, two of those losses came to Kentucky and Duke, and the Spartans haven’t always started off fast under head coach Tom Izzo. Michigan State has played sloppy and turned the ball over, but as long as they can clean things up by March then they should be a force this postseason.
What I’m trying to say is that while the Spartans have been vulnerable this season, don’t look for Rutgers to land an upset on the road tonight. A poor perimeter shooting team, the Scarlet Knights will also have issues scoring inside today going against a considerably more talented frontcourt. And while Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker have started off strong for Rutgers, they face a much more talented Michigan State squad today.
With Cassius Winston in the backcourt and Xavier Tillman in the frontcourt, Michigan State has a balanced attack that can take care of business both inside and out. With a relatively easy conference preview (they also play at Northwestern on the 18th) and a handful of cupcakes remaining, Izzo has some time to get Sparty up and running before a showdown with Michigan in a month.
Rutgers might not be as bad as they have been in the past, but they’re still nowhere close to competing with Michigan State.
Pick: Michigan State