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1/19 Big Ten Preview: Michigan State Set to Host Rutgers

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

There are four games set for tonight, with two ranked teams heading on the road and a pair of unranked teams in need of a road win.

Game of the Night

#23 Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Michigan State Spartans

  • Time/TV: 6:30 PM ET FS1
  • Line: Michigan State -2.5

This game might be the game of the night but it very well could be the ugliest game of the evening. On one side is a defensively stacked Rutgers program that is 5-2 in the conference and now ranked...but they haven’t scored more than 68 points in a conference game (and that game took overtime). On the other side is a Michigan State team that has only surpassed 70 points once in conference play in a win over Nebraska and is ranked 309th in adjusted tempo rankings (Rutgers comes in at 269th).

It’s safe to say tonight’s showing should be an absolute grind it out slugfest where points are hard to come by and both teams will look to keep things physical. Against Purdue the Spartans were led by Tyson Walker’s 30 points, with the guard scoring almost half of the teams points. AJ Hoggard and Joey Hauser have also shown flashes on the offensive side of the ball as well.

Rutgers is led by Cam Spencer, who averages 13.9 points and shoots 46.7% from three. Clifford Omoruyi is averaging 13.2 points and 10.1 rebounds per game and is a big anchor inside for the Scarlet Knights. While the team has some flashes on offense, their ability to win games comes through their defense, ranked third by KenPom.

Rutgers is 2-2 on the road this year, with their last road game being a three point win at Northwestern. They can win on the road, and have gone 7-1 the last eight overall, but this almost feels like a game Michigan State has to win. With the game taking place in East Lansing look for the Spartans to bounce back into the win column.

Pick: Michigan State

The Rest

#3 Purdue Boilermakers at Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET ESPN2
  • Line: ESPN2

Third ranked Purdue looks to make it five in a row with a win at Minnesota. The Gophers have gone 1-3 their last four games and their only win the past month has been a road win at Ohio State.

The last time these two teams played Zach Edey dropped 31 points and 22 rebounds and he’s coming off of a road performance against Michigan State that saw him drop 32 points and 17 rebounds. That doesn’t fare well for a thin Minnesota team that didn’t have an answer the first time these two teams played.

Purdue has had some inconsistency in their backcourt but whenever the guards go cold they’ve found success inside from Edey. Minnesota isn’t an offensively stout team, ranking outside of the top 200 in the KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency ratings, and it’s hard seeing them finding enough points to land the upset.

Pick: Purdue

Michigan Wolverines at Maryland Terrapins

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET ESPN
  • Line: Maryland -3.0

On ESPN the Wolverines look to win back to back games and improve to 5-2 in conference play. The up and down Wolverines beat Maryland at home earlier in the year 81-46 and will look for a repeat performance. Maryland has gone 1-3 their last four games, though all three losses took place on the road. Their last home game was a seven point win over a free falling Ohio State when they were still ranked.

The last time these two teams played Hunter Dickinson scored 32 points on 13 of 16 shooting and if Maryland wants any chance to win they’ll need to slow down the Michigan big man. Maryland at home should fare better then they did last time, but there’s still a good chance Dickinson has another big night. Jett Howard has been playing well for Michigan as well and even if winning on the road in the Big Ten is tough, Michigan should have enough of an offensive advantage to take care of business on the road.

Pick: Michigan

Indiana Hoosiers at Illinois Fighting Illini

  • Time/TV: 8:30 PM ET FS1
  • Line: Illinois -7.0

Indiana ended a three game skid with an 18 point win over a Wisconsin team without their best player. They’ll look to build on that win on the road against an Illini team as they try to inch towards .500 in conference play. Their opponent is an Illini team that has won four in a row after an 0-3 start in conference play.

The Hoosiers were heavily hyped heading into the season but the reality is Indiana has looked much like the same old Hoosiers so far. The team is once again relying heavily on Trayce Jackson-Davis and giving him limited support, though Jalen Hood-Schifino has emerged as a solid second weapon. Indiana’s inability to round out the rest of the roster has loomed large all year and that proves problematic heading on the road to play a hot Illini squad.

Illinois is led by Terrence Shannon Jr., who is averaging almost 18 points per game. The big advantage for Illinois here is unlike Indiana they get production from a wide variety of players and aren’t limited to just one or two guys, with players like Matthew Mayer, Coleman Hawkins and Dain Dainja all being key at times throughout the season. The Illini’s strength in numbers and this game taking place at home should be more than enough for Illinois.

Pick: Illinois