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2/22 Big Ten Preview: Michigan and Purdue Square Off

The Big Ten’s only game has big NCAA Tournament implications.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

There’s only one game on the Big Ten slate, but it’s a big one. The Michigan Wolverines travel to West Lafayette, IN to take on the Purdue Boilermakers in a game that could determine NCAA Tournament seeding and eligibility.

Let’s take a look at what to expect.

Game of the Day:

-Michigan Wolverines at Purdue Boilermakers

  • Time/TV: 2:00 PM EST, ESPN
  • KenPom Spread: Purdue (-2)

The Boilermakers and Wolverines conclude their season series with a rematch of their entertaining overtime Wolverine victory from early January.

The Wolverines are yet again in a limbo-state with junior Isaiah Livers. The talented forward appears to be a game-time decision and could miss his 11th game of the season.

Even with Livers out of the lineup, Michigan picked up an impressive win earlier this week on the road at Rutgers. The Wolverines put the clamp down on Rutgers defensively allowing only 0.84 points per possession and 3-18 shooting from three. If the Wolverines are able to defend like that today in West Lafayette, they should come out with the victory.

For the Boilermakers, it is gut-check time if this group wants an NCAA Tournament spot. Purdue’s three-game losing streak has them probably on the outside looking in at this point, but with three out of their last four conference games at home, the Boilermakers still have a chance to play their way back in.

To get back in the win column today, Purdue needs to defend the three-point line better. Over their last three games, Purdue has allowed opponents to shoot 45.6 percent from three-point land. Opponents have hit nearly 12 three-pointers per game during this streak as well. That number was nearly half that in Purdue’s three-game winning streak before this.

Look for Michigan to exploit this through the efforts of Zavier Simpson. The crafty senior dominated the first matchup with 22 points and nine assists. Purdue cannot allow Simpson to dribble into the lane however he wants for layups and floaters (8-8 in this category in the first matchup) or three-point kick-outs. In general, Purdue struggles to contain the dribble and that’s foreboding with the way Michigan plays.

For Purdue, expect a heavy dose of Trevion Williams. The sophomore big man dominated the Wolverines in the first meeting with an incredible 36 points and 20 rebounds. While up and down at times this season, Williams is coming off a great 17 point, 12 rebound performance at Wisconsin earlier this week.

Overall, I think Purdue defends its home court and sees its offensive abilities come back. Like with many of the matchups between these two squads over the years, expect a highly entertaining game between two programs with contrasting styles.

  • Pick against the spread: Purdue