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12/18 Big Ten Preview: Butler vs No. 3 Purdue opens the day

Preview Saturday’s Big Ten action.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 12 Hall of Fame Invitational - Purdue v NC State Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Big Ten had three total games face cancellation today following COVID-19 issues within various programs. However, today’s slate still offers a long list of great matchups for fans highlighted by the opener of the day when Butler visits No. 3 Purdue.

Let’s take a look at the day’s schedule.

Game of the Day:

-Butler Bulldogs vs No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers

  • Time/TV: 12:00 PM EST (FOX)
  • Tallysight Spread: Purdue -15.5

The Crossroads Classic opens up the day’s action in Indianapolis with Butler taking on the No. 3 Boilermakers. The Bulldogs have faced off against Purdue five times in the Classic dating to 2011 and have won four of the five contests. However, Purdue owns the all-time series 26-13.

Butler had a rough go against Michigan State in the Gavitt Games last month, and then followed up that loss with losses to Houston and Texas A&M in the Maui Invitational in Last Vegas, but pulled off a win over Chaminade in the final game. Since then, the Bulldogs have gone on to win four straight, including an overtime win last week over Oklahoma in Norman.

Butler is currently led by senior guard Jair Bolden. He is averaging 11.4 ppg, 2.3 rebs, and 1.2 assists through the first 10 games of the year, and has scored in double figures in seven games. Against Oklahoma, he managed just three points, however. Freshman guard Chuck Harris is quickly outpacing Bolden in the stats sheet, however. Harris is averaging 11.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, and 2.7 apg. Jayden Taylor rounds out the double digit scorers for the Bulldogs, averaging 10.2 ppg and 0.6 spg.

Purdue has been struggling of late, but Butler continues to have a difficult time finding a consistent offense in games. The Boilermakers should likely be able to capitalize on that and avoid an upset.

  • Pick: Purdue

The Rest:

-St. Francis Red Flash (PA) at Illinois Fighting Illini

  • Time/TV: 1:00 PM EST (Big Ten Network)
  • Tallysight Spread: Unavailable at time of publishing

Illinois looks to rebound after a home loss to Arizona a week ago, and St. Francis should prove just the ticket to do so. The Red Flash sit all the way back at No. 221 in KenPom and fell most recently to Hartford on the road Tuesday night (81-66). Even if the Illini have a poor day of shooting, second and third chances should be abundant off the glass as SFU averages just 37.9 rpg as a team.

  • Pick: Illinois

-Indiana Hoosiers at Notre Dame Fighting Irish

  • Time/TV: 2:30 PM EST (FOX)
  • Tallysight Spread: Indiana -4

The second game of the Crossroads Classic double-header features the Hoosiers taking on the Fighting Irish. IU has been getting lots of production out of its seniors (Race Thompson, Xavier Johnson, Miller Kopp, and Parker Stewart) who have produced 57 percent of the team’s scoring over the last five games. Meanwhile, Notre Dame ranks 264th nationally in letting opponents shoot 44.9 percent against them compared to Indiana’s 34.9 percent, good for second lowest in Division I.

  • Pick: Indiana

-Rider Broncs at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • Time/TV: 5:00 PM EST (Big Ten Network)
  • Tallysight Spread: Rutgers -16.5

With Rutgers offense, that large of a spread may be a bit much to cover in any game, but the Broncs are one of the teams on the schedule that Rutgers may just have a shot at doing so against. Ron Harper Jr, Caleb McConnell, and Geo Baker have been scoring 44 percent of the Scarlet Knights points so far this season, while Rider has relied on its own trio of Dwight Murray Jr, Dimencio Vaughn, and Ajiri Ogemuno-Johnson have accounted for 49 percent of the Broncs production. Rider is 0-5 in the past five road games and should move to 0-6 today.

  • Pick: Rutgers

-Southern Utah Thunderbirds at Michigan Wolverines

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM EST (Big Ten Network)
  • Tallysight Spread: Michigan -14

The 7-3 Thunderbirds (2-3 on the road) come to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan who is 6-4 (3-2 at home) and coming off a loss to Minnesota last weekend. Southern Utah runs a fast pace offense, averaging 76.4 possessions per game, good for fifth-most in Division I. Michigan should have no problem in this one despite the fast pace and rebound from the home loss to the Golden Gophers with a win tonight.

  • Pick: Michigan

-Utah State Aggies vs. Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Time/TV: 9:00 PM EST (Big Ten Network)
  • Tallysight Spread: Iowa -4

This neutral court matchup at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota will feature a matchup between two strong forwards in Utah State’s Justin Bean and Iowa’s Keegan Murray. Bean has single-handedly been scoring 25 percent of Utah State’s points this season, averaging 13.8 ppg over the past five games. Murray has also been averaging 13.8 ppg over the past five games. As for the game results, the Hawkeyes should be able to beat the spread in this one.

  • Pick: Iowa