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3/5 Big Ten Preview: Purdue looks to continue its run to a Big Ten title

While Minnesota aims to add a marquee win to its NCAA Tournament resume

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

We’re a little over a week away from the Big Ten Tournament and I honestly have no idea what the hell is going to happen in this league between now and then.

Each and everyday in the Big Ten seems to lead to new surprises and weirder results. So could tonight be fairly straightforward with both ranked teams taking home wins?

Maybe. I honestly really don’t know. But that’s sort of the fun of the 2018-’19 season, isn’t it?

On to the basketball!

Game of the Day:

-No. 11 Purdue Boilermakers at Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Time/TV: 8:00PM ET - BTN
  • KenPom Spread: Purdue (-5)

It took a little longer than Purdue fans would have liked, but after back-to-back rough outings Carsen Edwards finally got his groove back in the Boilermakers’ two most recent games.

Last Wednesday against Illinois, Edwards played the full 40 minutes, scoring 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting as Purdue dominated the Illini 73-56. The talented junior guard followed that performance up with a 25 point outing that saw the Boilermakers rack up a second-straight wide scoring margin win in a 86-51 beatdown of Ohio State.

More important, however, than Edwards return to form is the fact that with the two wins Purdue firmly controls its own destiny as it heads into the final two regular season games of the 2018-’19 season.

And despite its final two contests taking place on the road, the Boilermakers look poised to cruise to a Big Ten regular season crown against Minnesota and Northwestern — which at best features an inconsistent Golden Gophers squad and at worst a Northwestern team that appears to be DOA for the Big Ten Tournament about to be played in its own backyard.

Speaking of Northwestern, that happens to be the team Minnesota ended its recent two game skid against in a 62-50 victory last Thursday. In that win, junior guard Amir Coffey tied his career high for points in a game, with 32 scored on 12-of-19 shooting.

At 18-11, the Golden Gophers currently find itself on the right side of Joe Lunardi’s bubble in ESPN’s most recent Bracketology. However with its last two games coming against Purdue and Maryland — two teams within KenPom’s top 20, this week has the potential to be a stressful one for those in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

As far as Tuesday is concerned, both teams still have plenty on the line. A slip up by Purdue reopens the door for Michigan or Michigan State to earn at least a share of the Big Ten title, while a loss by Minnesota would make its currently tentatively firm postseason footing a little more rocky.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Purdue

The Rest:

-Nebraska Cornhuskers at No. 9 Michigan State Spartans

  • Time/TV: 7:00PM ET - ESPN2
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan State (-14)

Thankfully for fans of Nebrasketball, its season from hell is almost mercifully over.

But unfortunately, things could still get a little worse before the year comes to a close.

On Tuesday, the Cornhuskers will look to rebound from a 82-53 loss in Ann Arbor last Thursday with a trip back to Michigan where it’ll touch down in East Lansing for a dance with Sparty.

While things haven’t gone as Tim Miles would have hoped entering the year, Nebraska still has a capable team, evident by its spot within KenPom’s top 50 and an overall record on the right side of .500.

Looking at that glass as half empty, however, the Cornhuskers more or less seem to be going through the motions at this point, evident by some of its recent lopsided defeats and an uncharacteristically poor run of play from senior guard James Palmer Jr.

On Tuesday, it’ll meet a Michigan State team looking to rebound for its own recent slip up thanks to a one point loss it suffered at the hands of Indiana.

In that game against the Hoosier, the Spartans finally started to show some cracks caused by the injuries to Joshua Langford and Nick Ward. With former bench players forced into expanded roles, Michigan State’s depth suffered as freshmen forward Thomas Kithier was the only non-starter to record a point for Tom Izzo’s team.

That said, I don’t have a ton of doubt about the Spartans rebounding by defeating Nebraska at home this evening. I do, however, take issue with the healthy 14-point spread as that seems like a few points too many for a team spread, pun intended, a little thin right now.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Nebraska

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Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 17-21