The Big Ten only had one game on Friday, but it’s a significant one with Michigan State hosting Purdue. Both teams are hoping to grab a key win to start moving up in the Big Ten standings.
Let’s take a look at the schedule.
Game of the Day:
-Purdue Boilermakers at No. 23 Michigan State Spartans
- Time/TV: 7:00PM ET (FS1)
- KenPom Spread: Michigan State by 2
Friday night’s meeting between Michigan State and Purdue falls into the “quietly significant” category. The Spartans are 8-3 overall and 2-3 in Big Ten play while Purdue is 7-5 overall and 2-3 in Big Ten play. Michigan State seems to be playing better right now, but both have underwhelmed (at least somewhat) the last few weeks. And now they face one another in a tossup game and what figures to be a fun matchup.
There are no “must wins” in early January, but this one is important if these teams hope to make the NCAAs at season’s end. For perspective, just look at what both teams have coming up after Friday’s game:
-Michigan State’s Next Five Games (KenPom Odds Alongside):
- 1/14 - at Iowa (20%)
- 1/17 - Indiana (52%)
- 1/23 - Illinois (36%)
- 1/28 - at Rutgers (39%)
- 1/31 - at Ohio State (35%)
-Purdue’s Next Five Games (KenPom Odds Alongside):
- 1/14 - at Indiana (37%)
- 1/17 - Penn State (62%)
- 1/22 - Michigan (40%)
- 1/27 - at Ohio State (36%)
- 1/30 - Minnesota (56%)
Even if you don’t buy KenPom’s numbers and think Michigan State and Purdue will perform better than expected, that’s still a rough upcoming slate. It wouldn’t be shocking for either to go 1-4 in those stretches. And if that happens, the loser of Friday’s game could end up sitting at 3-8 in Big Ten by month’s end. Not exactly an encouraging picture, so winning on Friday is crucial for both sides.
For Michigan State, the key is going to be holding up down low. The Spartans have gotten mixed play in the frontcourt and are set to face one of the better ones in the Big Ten on Friday night. Slowing down Zach Edey and Trevion Williams is the key. If Michigan State can at least make them a little more inefficient, they probably come out with the win. Mady Sissoko could be a key player to keep an eye on here as well.
Purdue’s primary objectives have to be slowing down Michigan State in transition and Aaron Henry in the half court. Both Henry and Rocket Watts have been inconsistent this year, so Purdue has to hope to get them on a bad night. Watts depends a lot of transition opportunities, while Henry does his work inside. Purdue can also try and expose what seems like a pretty underwhelming Spartan frontcourt.
Expect a tough and physical game, but this feels like one of those matchups where Tom Izzo just finds a way to steal a win.
- Pick Against The Spread: Michigan State
Record Against The Spread: 13-10-2