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1/31 Big Ten Preview: MSU-OSU

Preview all of Sunday’s Big Ten action.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten has a quietly good slate on Sunday, featuring two games with NCAA Tournament implications. Michigan State goes on the road to face Ohio State in the early game and Northwestern hosts Rutgers in the late game.

Let’s take a look at the schedule.

Game of the Day:

-Michigan State Spartans at No. 13 Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time/TV: 1:00PM ET (CBS)
  • KenPom Spread: Ohio State by 9

Big Ten fans have gotten to enjoy a number of marquee rivalries in recent years. The matchups between Michigan and Michigan State, Indiana and Purdue, and Michigan State and Wisconsin have been fantastic. And this is a series that often gets overlooked, but has routinely delivered. Year after year, this is a game that has an impact on the Big Ten title race and beyond, many times being the deciding game for one side.

Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those years.

After one of the most impressive three-year runs in Big Ten history, Michigan State is in absolute free fall. The Spartans are just 8-5 overall, 2-5 in Big Ten play, and haven’t really beaten anyone of serious national significance to date. This puts Michigan State in a precarious situation moving forward and in a desperate situation heading into Columbus. Meanwhile, Ohio State is looking to build off a win over Penn State earlier this week.

The matchup to watch here is going to be in the backcourt. Michigan State’s guards had a horrific outing against Rutgers on Thursday and will certainly be hoping to do better on Sunday. We’ll see if Rocket Watts and Aaron Henry can get something going against Justin Ahrens and Duane Washington. CJ Walker should have a role as well as he works back into Ohio State’s rotation.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Ohio State

The Rest:

-Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Northwestern Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 7:30PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Rutgers by 2

It’s been an up-and-down season for both sides of this game heading into Sunday’s matchup. Rutgers started hot, lost five straight in January, and bounced back over the last two weeks while Northwestern had a rough start, scored three huge wins in December, and has now fallen off a cliff, losing seven straight. This is a chance for Rutgers to keep things moving in the right direction and for Northwestern to get back on track.

The matchup itself will come down to how Rutgers’ underwhelming offense performs against a feisty Northwestern defense. Keep an eye on Geo Baker and Chase Audige in the backcourts. Whoever plays better will likely be on the winning side.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Rutgers

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Record Against The Spread: 18-15-2