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3/2 Big Ten Preview: March is Finally Here

Big Ten play is wrapping up and teams like Purdue are looking to finish strong.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Purdue Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

With the Big Ten Tournament only 11 days away, Saturday’s matchups feature four games that should all be “competitive.” No. 6 Michigan State is riding a five-game win streak, coming off an impressive seven-point win against its in-state rival Michigan last Saturday, and like the rest of the top teams in the conference, they are looking to finish the season strong with the first of their last three games in March.

Big Ten Game of the Day

No. 14 Purdue Boilermakers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time/TV: 2:00PM ET - ESPN
  • KenPom Spread: PUR (-11)

The Boilermakers only have three more games on their schedule until the start of the Big Ten tourney and the play of their sophomore center Matt Haarms has been huge down the stretch.

Haarms has put up 17 or more in three of the last four games for his squad and is looking to continue this impressive scoring against the Buckeyes.

Saturday, Haarms and the Boilermakers will be looking to improve their undefeated home record to 15-0 and will be doing so without having to deal with Ohio State leading score Kaleb Wesson. Wesson was suspended for what the Buckeyes head coach Chris Holtmann called a “policy violation.”

Wesson has played in all 28 games this season and is averaging 14.6 points and 6.7 rebounds for the Buckeyes. With Wesson’s scoring and rebounding load out of the way, the Boilermakers should be able to hold off the 18-10 Ohio State.

On the other hand, this game is a must-win for the Buckeyes who are a possible bubble team and need a road win like this under their belt finishing up their season.

The Rest

No. 6 Michigan State at Indiana Hoosiers

  • Time/TV: 12:00PM ET - FOX
  • KenPom Spread: MSU (-6.5)

The Spartans are riding a five-game winning streak and are looking to continue that trend against a Hoosiers team who has only won two games in the month of February.

Ironically, one of the Hoosiers last wins came against Michigan State in early February, the 79-75 overtime win that should have been a confident booster for the team after snapping a seven-game losing streak.

Indiana has been showing life as of late, pushing both Iowa and Purdue to the limits and then beating Wisconsin in 75-73 in overtime last Tuesday.

Penn State Nittany Lions at No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers

  • Time/TV: 1:00PM ET - BTN
  • KenPom Spread: WIS (-7.0)

Fresh off the overtime loss to Indiana the Badgers will be looking to bounce back against a Penn State team who are showing that they can compete with anyone as of late.

The Nittany Lions jumped on No. 17 Maryland early and never looked back, cruising to a 78-61 win. Junior Lamar Stevens poured in a game-high 24 points picking up Penn State’s fifth win in seven games.

Wisconsin wants to finish the season out strong starting with Saturday’s game in hopes to remain in contention for the double bye in the conference tournament.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights at No. 22 Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Time/TV: 5:00PM ET - BTN
  • KenPom Spread: IOWA (-8.5)

The No. 22 Hawkeyes will be playing this game without head coach Fran McCaffery, McCaffery will be serving the first of his two-game suspension for his incident that occurred following their last game against Ohio State.

Following the 90-70 loss, McCaffery confronted a Big Ten game official calling him a “cheater” and a “disgraced.”

Assistant Andrew Francis will be in the driver’s seat Saturday filling in for McCaffery. The Hawkeyes will be trying to bounce back from the loss against Ohio State that might have major implications for the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten tournament.