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1/12 Big Ten Preview: Michigan State Heads to West Lafayette

The Spartans will face a pesky Boilermakers D.

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

There are two Big Ten games today with both Michigan schools set to hit the road.

Game of the Day

#8 Michigan State Spartans at Purdue Boilermakers

  • Time/TV: 12:00 PM ET (CBS)

The Boilermakers got a monster performance out of Trevion Williams and still couldn’t knock off Michigan on Thursday. Of course there was some bad breaks, like an Aaron Wheeler three late in the game that was halfway down before bouncing out, or a block at the end of regulation that would have been an easy Williams dunk had they started their set a second early. But a loss is a loss and the teams inability to support Williams played a key role, as well as an untimely injury to Matt Haarms that led to Williams having to play 44 minutes. Speaking of, the school hasn’t updated Haarms status so his availability is also up in the air.

Purdue has one of the toughest arenas in the country to play at and one of the nations top defensive units. Can they shoot the ball though? If the school could simply get consistent production from their backcourt, as well as any legitimate support from the bench, they would be a legit threat in the conference. But their ineptitude on offense has been spoiling a defensive juggernaut. And hosting a top ten Michigan State team that is rolling won’t be an easy task.

In their win against Minnesota the Spartans saw Cassius Winston lead the team with 27 points while Xavier Tillman added 19 points and 16 rebounds. The teams success runs through Winston and Tillman and if Purdue wants any shot of an upset they’ll need to slow down the duo. That could become tricky if Haarms is out as Williams might not have the conditioning to go 35 minutes and there’s limited options behind him. Also tricky is Purdue relies on Nojel Eastern to slow down opposing backcourts but he’s scored 8 points in 84 minutes over the last three games. For a team that can’t find it’s footing on offense having to give major minutes to a player that doesn’t contribute on that side of the ball makes things even harder.

Purdue is always going to be a threat at home but until they figure out their offense it’s impossible to pick against Michigan State. The Spartans should be on upset alert but look for an untimely scoring drought to cost Purdue the chance for another win.

Pick: Michigan State

The Rest

#19 Michigan Wolverines at Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Time/TV: 1:00 PM ET (BTN)

Michigan escaped with a double overtime victory against Purdue and things won’t get any easier as they travel to Minnesota to face the Gophers. Minnesota is only 8-7 this year but they’ve only lost one game at home and have hung around with everyone they’ve played outside of Michigan State.

Even more problematic for Michigan is they are coming off of an extended game against Purdue that saw Trevion Williams drop 36 points on 16 of 28 shooting. Minnesota has their own star down low with Daniel Oturu, who is averaging 19.3 points and 12.3 rebounds per game, including 22 points and 10 rebounds at Michigan State. Oh, and Minnesota has a decisively better backcourt so they won’t have to rely exclusively on Oturu, something Purdue couldn’t do as they fed Williams repeatedly down the stretch.

Last time out Michigan shot 24.1% from three and clearly missed Isaiah Livers presence. The 50% shooter hasn’t played serious minutes since Oregon and his status is still up in the air as of writing (Saturday afternoon). Even if Livers can return it’ll be tough sledding against a Minnesota team that beat Ohio State at home by double digits.

The Wolverines got a big win against Purdue but winning on the road in the Big Ten is tough. Daniel Oturu should be set to carve up Michigan inside and as long as the Gophers can get some production from their backcourt they should be set to knock off another ranked team.

Pick: Minnesota