The Big Ten has a loaded slate on the docket for Thursday, featuring a marquee matchup in Iowa City. Wisconsin will face Nebraska in the early game, Ohio State will travel to face Minnesota later on, and Iowa will host Purdue hoping for an upset.
Let’s take a look at the schedule.
Game of the Day:
-No. 6 Purdue Boilermakers at Iowa Hawkeyes
- Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET (FS1)
- KenPom Spread: Purdue by 1
If you’re a person that buys into the human polls and generic team rankings, this one might not “pop” as a marquee matchup. However, once you dig into the advanced numbers and where these two are trending, it doesn’t take long to realize the importance of Thursday’s meeting. Purdue is hoping to score a valuable road win to improve its Big Ten title hopes while Iowa is hoping to get an upset win that can launch it into the national discussion.
The matchup to watch is going to be between Iowa’s offense and Purdue’s defense. Based on the numbers, it seems likely Purdue is going to scorch Iowa’s offense and put together an impressive scoring performance. The question, however, is whether an inconsistent Purdue defense can get enough stops for the Boilermakers to pull away. Much of the pressure will be on Sasha Stefanovic and Mason Gillis to try and slow down Keegan Murray.
Another thing to watch will be how Filip Rebraca matches up against Purdue’s loaded frontcourt. Rebraca isn’t exactly massive at just 6-foot-9 and doesn’t appear to have the size to hold off Zach Edey and Trevion Williams. As such, does Iowa try and look to its bench or double team? We’ll have to keep an eye on it.
All told, this feels like a game that could go either way. Expect some impressive offensive production and some wild shots from both sides. It seems like a nice upset opportunity.
- Pick: Iowa
-No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers at Nebraska Cornhuskers
- Time/TV: 5:00 PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Wisconsin by 9
Barring something unusual happening before tip, this doesn’t project as a particularly great game. Nebraska has shown some decent fight at home, but the Huskers will be out manned in this one, especially coming off a COVID-19 pause. Nebraska last played on January 17th and nobody is quite sure whether the team will be at full strength against the Badgers. As such, expect a solid Wisconsin win.
- Pick: Wisconsin
-No. 16 Ohio State Buckeyes at Minnesota Golden Gophers
- Time/TV: 8:00 PM ET (ESPN)
- KenPom Spread: Ohio State by 3
It’s been a hectic last month or so for both of these teams. Each suffered through significant COVID-19 issues that significantly limited their respective slates. However, both appear to be back and primed for quite a showdown on Thursday night. Ohio State is looking for its first notable win since December 11th while Minnesota is desperately in search of a marquee win for its NCAA hopes. Something’s gotta give.
The matchup to watch here will be in the backcourt. Can Jamari Wheeler and Malaki Branham slow down Jamison Battle and Eylijah Stephens? If the Buckeyes can hold up and even just make those two inefficient, it should be in good position to grab the road win.
- Pick: Ohio State