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2/19 Big Ten Preview: Triple-Header Saturday Feat. MSU-Indiana, Illinois-Minn, Purdue-Neb

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Illinois Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Game of the Day:

- No. 5 Illinois Fighting Illini at Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Time/TV: 3:30 p.m. EST (FOX)

The Fighting Illini enter a risky road matchup in a third- of four-straight road games. Following scares against bottom-feeders the Cornhuskers in overtime and Northwestern, the Golden Gophers offer a much stiffer challenge in Minneapolis. Minnesota, meanwhile, seeks revenge on its homecourt for the 23-point blowout in Champaign back in December.

The Illini had to rely on back-to-back all-star performances of Ayo Dosunmu putting the team on his back down the stretch of the closing minutes to get the win. The squads Illinois faced were both much more inferior offensively than the Gophers offer on their home court. It is going to likely take far more of a team effort in this one by Illinois.

Minnesota is 13-1 at home on the season, 6-1 in league play. While the Gophers dead last in rebounding margin in the conference, they will have home hoops to shoot on where they have averaged eight made three-pointers per game. Overall the team averages 7.7, including on the road, which ranks sixth in the Big Ten. For whatever foul shots the team can draw, they will likely also have more success than Illinois which offers a good chance to get the win with all those advantages tallied up.

What Minnesota can’t likely overcome in this one is the rebounding margin. The Golden Gophers rank dead last in the league in rebounding margin and gave up 49 boards to Illinois last time around. This one will probably be yet another close game late for the Illini, but they should get the season sweep in the end.

  • Pick: Illinois

The Rest:

- Michigan State Spartans at Indiana Hoosiers

  • Time/TV: 7:00 p.m. EST (BTN)

The Spartans season is all but over at this point by Michigan State fans expectations as the floor for the program. Add in a questionable Rocket Watts who was ill a with non-COVID-19 illness earlier in the week and Foster Loyer being out with an injured shoulder and expectations for the Spartans are likely low to non-existent at this point. The Hoosiers, meanwhile, should be able to feast down low with Trayce Jackson-Davis.

Short of a miracle and record setting run in the Big Ten Tournament, the Spartans will miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since before most of the team’s roster was even born. Indiana is the one with motivation among the roster as the team is poised to send Archie Miller to his first NCAA tournament appearance in Bloomington since taking the job. Perhaps Sissoko may surprise on defense against Jackson-Davis and make the game interesting, but best not to take the bet.

  • Pick: Indiana

- Purdue Boilermakers at Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Time/TV: 5:30 p.m. EST (BTN)

This game has the potential to get incredibly ugly fast. The Nebraska Cornhuskers are entering their eighth game in the past two weeks and were described as winded and limping off the court by their head coach in practice yesterday. Meanwhile, the Purdue Boilermakers come into this one after a decent win over the Spartans on Tuesday night and far better rested.

Add onto that the fact the Boilermakers feature Trevion Williams, a big man the likes of which Nebraska doesn’t come close to having an answer for, and expect a lot of double-teams that leave other Purdue players open and gets Husker bigs in foul trouble quickly and wide-spread. Nebraska ranks 12th in the league in two-point defense, letting opponents average 53 percent inside the arc. Even if they can find a way to neutralize Williams with foul trouble of his own, Zach Edey will likely step in and find great sucess in Williams’ absence.

  • Pick: Purdue