The Big Ten only has one game on Monday, but it’s a big one as Rutgers goes on the road to face Purdue in a game that has NCAA Tournament and Big Ten title implications. The Boilers also put the team’s top ranking on the line as well. It should be a fun one.
Let’s take a look at the schedule.
Game of the Day:
-Rutgers Scarlet Knights at No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers
- Time/TV: 7:00PM ET (BTN)
- KenPom Spread: Purdue by 6
Heading into this season, these two teams had plenty of doubters. Many thought Rutgers couldn’t overcome its substantial offseason departures and that Purdue couldn’t overcome the loss of superstar Jaden Ivey. While many thought these two could get back into NCAA Tournament contention, that might be just about it, especially with the rise of other programs around the league like Illinois and Indiana.
A few months later, things look drastically different.
Purdue is ranked No. 1 in the weekly polls and Rutgers is rolling, having won three straight. The Scarlet Knights have also risen all the way up to 18th nationally on KenPom. It’s 32 spots higher than where Rutgers began the season.
So, what happens when these two meet on Monday?
Something’s gotta give.
The game itself, obviously, has major implications for both sides. Purdue needs it to keep pace in the Big Ten title race and the push for a one seed and Rutgers needs to add marquee wins to its resume to help its postseason positioning. The top ranking in the weekly polls also swings in the balance.
On the court, the key matchups will be upfront. Can Cliff Omoruyi slow down Zach Edey, who’s been on a tear all season? Rutgers has down a great job of defending so far this season, ranking third nationally in defensive efficiency. However, they’ve never faced anything like this Purdue offense and Edey down low. It’s going to be one of the more intriguing individual battles in Big Ten play.
The backcourt battle also should be fun. Cam Spencer has carried things for Rutgers offense this season and is one of the team’s only productive three-point shooters. So, can Purdue do enough to get him off his game for Purdue to come out with the win? It’s a key challenge for the freshmen backcourt of Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer.
All told, this looks like a really even matchup on paper. While Purdue is the better team, Rutgers is probably the squad best designed to go into West Lafayette and win of anybody in the Big Ten. The team’s interior defense and experience make for a nice balance to what Purdue brings to the table. This game could go either way. However, with the game in Mackey, Purdue seems like the safest pick here.
- Pick: Purdue
Picks Record: 63-19-0