Big Ten opens up on Friday night and the league has two great games on the docket. Rutgers travels to face Illinois in the early game and Purdue hosts Iowa with a chance to move to number one in the polls on Monday with a win.
Let’s take a look at the schedule.
Game of the Day:
-Iowa Hawkeyes at No. 2 Purdue Boilermakers
- Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: N/A
This is quietly one of the better games we’ve seen all season. Both teams enter this game playing well and with perfect 7-0 records. And while the Boilermakers are more battle tested, Iowa has slipped under the national radar. The Hawkeyes are a loaded team offensively and have a superstar in Keegan Murray.
Buckle up for a fun one.
On the court, the biggest question will be whether Iowa’s defense can hold up against KenPom’s top-rated offense in Purdue. Past matchups between these two programs suggest the Boilermakers will win that battle, but we can’t know for sure until we see it. Iowa did enough to gut out a win against Virginia earlier this week and will try to do the same thing here. The Hawkeyes are going to score, but can they get enough stops to win?
This game also boasts a ton of stars. Murray will lead the Hawkeyes while the Boilermakers have Jaden Ivey and Zach Edey. Add in the stakes of a potential number one ranking on Monday with a win for Purdue and there’s plenty to be excited about with this matchup. Filip Rebraca is going to be the most important player to watch. If he can do well, Iowa should have a chance to pull off an upset.
- Pick: Purdue
-Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Illinois Fighting Illini
- Time/TV: 7:00PM ET (ESPN2)
- KenPom Spread: Illinois by 11
The early game is a meeting of two teams trying to overcome slow starts. Illinois entered the year with Big Ten title hopes, but sits at 5-2 overall with two losses to underwhelming opponents. Rutgers has had similar missteps, dropping three games already, including a rough home loss to Lafayette before Thanksgiving.
Of course, Friday offers both an opportunity to get back on track. Illinois needs to protect home court and start rebuilding its lost momentum while Rutgers needs to make up for the crushing defeats last month. Expect most of the battle to take place down low between Kofi Cockburn and Cliff Omoruyi. Both played well earlier this week in wins against ACC opponents. Rutgers will try and keep the ball out of Cockburn’s hands.
Another factor to watch here will be the availability of Illinois’ roster. Illinois has been struggling to get its full roster available since the season started. We’ll have to wait and see who ends up playing, but it could be an advantage for the Scarlet Knights. Expect a grind it out game where Illinois gradually pulls away.
- Pick: Illinois