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2/16 Big Ten Basketball Preview: Rutgers Looks To Continue Hot Streak

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a doubleheader tonight, with Rutgers hosting Illinois and Northwestern hosting Purdue on BTN tonight. Let’s take a look at the upcoming action.

Game of the Night

#12 Illinois Fighting Illini at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET

Rutgers enters tonight with a wild three game winning streak against Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. The Scarlet Knights have picked up some huge wins at home, while also losing to Lafayette and Maryland on their court. Today they’ll look to avenge a 35 point loss at Illinois, while also trying to quickly rebuild a tournament resume and reenter the bubble.

Illinois committed 20 turnovers against Northwestern and almost lost a dreadful game to their in-state opponent. The top of the Big Ten race is tight and with Illinois losing both games to Purdue, they can’t afford a loss here. Even more so with Michigan State and Ohio State on deck, as well as a road trip to Michigan and senior night against Iowa. It’s going to be a challenging close to the season for the Illini.

In the last matchup Rutgers shot 30.9% from the field, only had four free throw attempts and committed 14 turnovers. It was a dreadful offensive performance while the Illini shot just under 50% from the field. Kofi Cockburn didn’t do much compared to his usual production, but Alfonso Plummer and Jacob Grandison came out shooting. The Illini will be best set if they can get into a shootout, so look for Rutgers to try to grind things out and keep things slow and physical.

Rutgers defensively has been really good this year and if they can slow down Cockburn then the Illini will have to win from the perimeter. Fortunately for Illini fans, Illinois has the guards capable of doing just that. Rutgers three game winning streak comes to an end.

Pick: Illinois

The Rest

#5 Purdue Boilermakers at Northwestern Wildcats

Time/TV: 9:00 PM BTN

In the late game tonight Purdue looks to get things back up and running again. They didn’t look great versus Maryland, but they found a way to pick up the win. That’s huge, especially as Jaden Ivey was held quiet most of the day. Relying on their defense to shut down Maryland down the stretch and getting some big shots from the role players, Purdue found a way to grind out a win.

Today they face a Northwestern team that almost made a big comeback to upset Illinois. They managed that even after a dreadful shooting performance, mainly due to forcing 20 Illini turnovers. Purdue’s offense, even with it currently struggling, has too many weapons so if Northwestern wants to land an upset here they’ll need to force Purdue to turn the ball over. Luckily enough for Northwestern, the Boilermakers are occasionally prone to turnovers. If Purdue wants to avoid any chance of an upset they’ll need to cut back on turnovers.

Inside the Wildcats are going to have serious issues slowing down Zach Edey and Trevion Williams. Against the Illini they were outrebounded 47-30 and couldn’t slow down Kofi Cockburn, so expect more of the same. If Jaden Ivey can get things rolling it’s going to be a long day for the Wildcats. Even though Northwestern has been playing improved as of late, Purdue still picks up the win.

Pick: Purdue