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1/17 Big Ten Preview: Purdue at Illinois

Preview all of Monday’s Big Ten action.

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

The Big Ten only has two games on Monday, but one of them is an absolute whopper, with Purdue going on the road to face Illinois. The late game also has some intrigue with Nebraska hosting Indiana.

Let’s take a look at the schedule.

Game of the Day:

-No. 7 Purdue Boilermakers at No. 25 Illinois Fighting Illini

  • Time/TV: 12:00 PM ET (FOX)
  • KenPom Spread: Illinois by 2

This one has been building for a few weeks and we’ve finally made it. Purdue will go on the road to face Illinois in a game that feels like a top 10 blockbuster. And while the Boilers are the only one of the two ranked in the top 10 as of Monday morning, Illinois is playing like a top 10 team and has risen all the way to 11th nationally on KenPom. Add in some major star power on both sides and you have all the makings of a marquee matchup.

The game is also significant from a Big Ten title perspective. Illinois presently sits atop the standings at a perfect 6-0 and Purdue enters with a 3-2 record looking to make up ground. Both teams have serious title hopes, so a matchup like this could have major implications.

On the court, the game will largely be determined by how the teams match up with one another inside. Purdue is one of the few teams that has the size to compete with Kofi Cockburn. A lot of pressure is going to be on Zach Edey and Trevion Williams to slow down the Illinois big man inside. If Purdue can even make Cockburn inefficient, it would be massive for the team’s chances of grabbing the road win. Illinois relies extensively on Cockburn and his presence to open things up elsewhere. Stop that and you have a route to victory. However, easier said than done.

For Illinois, much of the focus needs to be on doing what the team does best. Illinois needs Cockburn to have a big night and exploit a relatively underwhelming Purdue defense. The backcourt also needs to work to slow down Jaden Ivey in transition and the lane. If Illinois can defend him without help, it should allow them to keep Purdue’s deadly shooters covered. That’s the only hope you have of slowing down Purdue’s offense.

All told, this looks like a great game that could go either way. However, home court and Illinois’ balance makes it hard not to lean with Illinois here.

  • Pick: Illinois

The Rest:

-Indiana Hoosiers at Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Time/TV: 6:00 PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Indiana by 10

Unlike the early game, it’s hard to feel great about this matchup. While Indiana enters this one coming off a loss to Iowa, the Hoosiers have still won two of the team’s last three and five of the team’s last seven, including key games against Minnesota, Ohio State, and Notre Dame. Meanwhile, Nebraska is 6-12 overall and still winless in Big Ten play, with the team’s last four losses coming by double-digits.

Anything’s possible in college basketball and this does look like one of Nebraska’s more winnable games over the next few weeks, but it’s hard to believe Nebraska comes out with a win here. This is a game Indiana desperately needs and the Huskers have nobody to matchup against Trayce Jackson-Davis. Expect a lopsided result.

  • Pick: Indiana