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1/30 Big Ten Basketball Preview: Purdue and Ohio State Set for Top 20 Showdown

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Purdue Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

There are two games today, both taking place early on to avoid the NFL playoffs later this afternoon. Let’s take a look at the action.

Game of the Day

#16 Ohio State Buckeyes at #6 Purdue Boilermakers

  • Time/TV: 12:00 PM ET CBS
  • Line: Purdue -10.0

In the big game of the day Purdue will host Ohio State for their only matchup of the season. The Buckeyes have had an up and down stretch the past month. While they’ve gone 5-2 in January, they lost at Wisconsin and got blown out by Indiana. Their wins haven’t been impressive, with close wins over Nebraska (overtime), Northwestern, Penn State and Minnesota.

As for the Boilermakers, they bounced back from a dreadful loss to Indiana by beating Northwestern by 20 without Jaden Ivey and then picked up a double digit win on the road against Iowa. With teams knocking each other off all over the league, Purdue has quietly reentered the conference race. That is especially true if they can beat Ohio State, which would put them above the Buckeyes and give them the tiebreaker.

Ohio State’s best player hands down is E.J. Liddell and they’ll need everything they can get from him today against the Zach Edey and Trevion Williams duo inside for Purdue. The deciding factor today will likely be the balance Purdue has, with a wide variety of weapons besides their two impressive bigs. Between Jaden Ivey’s playmaking ability and Sasha Stefanovic’s three point shooting, Purdue has plenty of options on offense. That’s not even taking into considering a revolving door of supporting acts like Mason Gillis, Isaiah Thompson and Eric Hunter Jr., who have all had big games recently.

Purdue does have a few issues that they need to work on, including free throws and turnovers. In their loss to Indiana the Boilermakers hit 7 of 17 free throws, while they made only 10 of 22 against Iowa. They also had 15 turnovers against the Hawkeyes, allowing Iowa to make a second half push to almost eliminate an 18 point deficit.

As long as Purdue can convert from the line and cut back on turnovers they have too many weapons to not win today.

Pick: Purdue

The Rest

Minnesota Golden Gophers at #11 Wisconsin Badgers

  • Time/TV: 1:00 PM ET BTN
  • Line: Wisconsin -11.5

In the ‘later’ game today Minnesota will head to Madison to face off against the 11th ranked Wisconsin Badgers. Minnesota had a strong start but their lack of depth has reared it’s head on their current 1-5 skid. The Gophers continue to play hard, though, with a near upset at Michigan State and losing to Iowa by only 10. Wisconsin has quietly put together an impressive 16-3 record, though the schedule is set to pick up with Illinois and Michigan State on the horizon.

Minnesota’s thin rotation took another hit when Eric Curry went down against Michigan State. Payton Willis and Jamison Battle have proved to be capable scorers, with some production from EJ Stephens, but the team lacks a capable bench and runs a thin rotation. Wisconsin has been carried this year by Johnny Davis, whose 21.7 points per game has led the Badgers. When Davis is on Wisconsin can hang with anyone. When he’s not they’re entirely beatable.

With today’s game taking place in Madison and the Gophers running low on available players, Wisconsin should pick up another win.

Pick: Wisconsin