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2/8 Big Ten Preview: Illinois at Purdue

Preview Tuesday’s Big Ten action.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 05 Michigan at Purdue Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It is a night packed with plenty of action as the Big Ten features four games on the schedule tonight headlined by two games of top-20 teams battling it out.

Let’s take a look at the games.

Game of the Day:

-No. 13 Illinois Fighting Illini (17-5, 10-2) at No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers (20-3, 9-3)

  • Time/TV: 9:00 PM EST (ESPN)
  • TallySight Spread: Purdue -6

In a battle of Big Ten heavyweights, the Fighting Illini visit West Lafayette for a pivotal showdown with the Boilermakers. In the first matchup between the programs this season, Purdue travelled to Illinois and defeated the Illini soundly in a 96-88 double-overtime victory. Kofi Cockburn fouled out early in the first overtime period and was hampered by foul trouble throughout the game, and Andre Curbelo was also back after dealing with concussion issues for much of the season. The Illini shot just 12-for-33 from three-point range in that loss and a paltry 41.6 percent from the floor overall. Also, shooting 33 three-point attempts was certainly a questionable strategy on offense to begin with.

This game should be a battle of big centers, though. Trevion Williams and Cockburn are two of the best centers in the country. Add in Zach Edey, and it should be quite the pitched battle down low. However, it will still be a struggle on the wings as well. Illinois guards are skilled shooters and defenders, but Purdue’s Sasha Stefanovic has a lot of size that saw the Illini struggle against him. Illinois needs to find an answer for that to have a shot.

Tonight’s marquee game should be the quintessential decider in the race for the 2022 Big Ten regular season crown. Illinois sits in the lead, but Purdue has been gaining ground since having a slow 1-3 start to the conference season and is poised to set itself up for the lead with a win tonight.

  • Pick: Purdue

The Rest:

-No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers (18-4, 9-3) at No. 17 Michigan State Spartans (17-5, 8-3)

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM EST (Big Ten Network)
  • TallySight Spread: Michigan State -4.5

Michigan State came off a tough home loss to Northwestern just a few weeks ago and traveled to Madison where the Spartans dominated the Badgers. Wisconsin enters this matchup tonight in East Lansing after an abomination of a game against Penn State that still was a win for Wisconsin while MSU is coming off an embarrassing blowout loss at Rutgers Saturday. Last time these teams played, though, Wisconsin was down Tyler Wahl.

The Badgers will likely be out for revenge after that rough loss, but the Spartans will surely be looking for redemption as well. After letting Rutgers shoot over 61 percent from the field, it seems easy to predict a defensive slugfest in this one as Wisconsin will play its usual slow style and Michigan State takes an added emphasis on stingy defense. Now that I said that, watch both teams top 80 each. Either way, this one should likely be more competitive than the last time out.

  • Pick: Wisconsin

-Michigan Wolverines (11-9, 5-5) at Penn State Nittany Lions (9-10, 4-7)

  • Time/TV: 9:00 PM EST (ESPN2)
  • TallySight Spread: Michigan -2

A once lost Michigan squad managed to visit Purdue over the weekend and lost by just six points. The Wolverines have won four of the last six games overall, and have a very winnable game tonight in a visit to Penn State. The Nittany Lions have lost five of the last six, two by double digits. However, PSU is a tough out on its home court and all five of those losses were on the road.

The Wolverines have work left to do if head coach Juwan Howard hopes to salvage a NCAA Tournament bid this season and can ill afford a road loss at Penn State. Can John Harrar do just enough down low to slow down Hunter Dickinson?

  • Pick: Penn State

-Indiana Hoosiers (16-6, 7-5) at Northwestern Wildcats (11-10, 4-8)

  • Time/TV: 9:00 PM EST (Big Ten Network)
  • TallySight Spread: Northwestern -1

Indiana is coming off a rough loss at home to Illinois that snapped a two-game winning streak for the Hoosiers and was the second largest margin of defeat in league play for IU. Northwestern, meanwhile, is coming off its largest margin of victory in a Big Ten game since at least March 2019. The Wildcats also have home court advantage in this one, something that certainly played a factor in a recent home overtime win over Rutgers.

The Hoosiers play a tough, grinding defensive game that should challenge NU on offense. A team that struggles offensively, the Wildcats will need to find a way to do enough for a hope to pick up the win in the teams’ only matchup during the regular season.

  • Pick: Indiana