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2/12 Big Ten Preview: Purdue at Northwestern

Preview all of Sunday’s Big Ten action.

Syndication: Journal-Courier Nikos Frazier / Journal & Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Big Ten has three intriguing games on the slate on Sunday, highlighted by a matchup between No. 1 Purdue and Northwestern in Evanston. Fans will also get to see Iowa go on the road and Michigan State and Ohio State battle.

Let’s take a look at the schedule.

Game of the Day:

-No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers at Northwestern Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 2:00 PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Purdue by 4

Over the last few weeks, Purdue’s dominance has been well demonstrated. The Boilers took one of the team’s most difficult stretches of the regular season and dominated it, beating a variety of challenging opponents on the road and at home. Purdue now enters the final stretch of the regular season quickly closing in on another Big Ten title.

However, one of the team’s toughest remaining hurdles will be on Sunday, as Purdue goes on the road to face a feisty Northwestern team hoping to earn the program’s second ever NCAA Tournament bid. The Wildcats also enter with some momentum, having won two straight and five of the team’s last seven games. Of course, Purdue will present arguably Northwestern’s toughest challenge of the season.

The game itself will likely come down to how Northwestern defends against Zach Edey down low. The Wildcats were (relatively) able to control Trayce Jackson-Davis in a meeting with the Hoosiers in January, but have had hiccups against other quality big men in matchups against teams like Michigan and Rutgers. The pressure will be on Matthew Nicholson and Robbie Beran to hold their own. Expect Northwestern to alter lineups as well, rotating between big and small groups to keep Edey out of his rhythm.

The guard matchup should also be intriguing. While Northwestern’s backcourt boasts plenty of experience, Purdue’s group is incredibly young. It’ll be interesting to watch and see if Boo Buie and Ty Berry can pull some veteran moves on Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer. It could play a huge part in who comes out on top on Sunday.

All told, this still feels like a game where Purdue’s size and skill are simply too much for Northwestern. The Wildcats have enough to keep things tight, but foul trouble could very well derail this effort.

  • Pick: Purdue

The Rest:

-Iowa Hawkeyes at Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • Time/TV: 1:00PM ET (FS1)
  • KenPom Spread: Iowa by 10

While this game projects as relatively one-sided, we’ve seen Minnesota challenge enough teams this season to believe the Gophers can keep things interesting. The game will likely turn on how Minnesota defends on the wing. It figures to be a huge challenge for Jamison Battle and Joshua Ola-Joseph to slow down Kris Murray and Payton Sandfort. If the Gophers can’t hold up there, expect a one-sided affair.

  • Pick: Iowa

-Michigan State Spartans at Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time/TV: 1:00PM ET (CBS)
  • KenPom Spread: Ohio State by 4

Over the last decade or so, this has been one of the best annual meetings in the Big Ten. Michigan State and Ohio State have frequently finished near (or at) the top of the league standings, meaning the title often swung with these games.

However, that won’t be the case this season, as Michigan State and Ohio State enter Sunday’s meeting with relatively underwhelming resumes. The Spartans have a better record, but both teams have suffered some significant missteps this season. Ohio State has particularly struggled as of late, losing 10 of the team’s last 11 games.

This matchup will likely turn on the wing, where Michigan State will try and slow down Brice Sensabaugh. Joey Hauser and Malik Hall will try and slow down the freshman sensation. If they can hold their own, the Spartans should walk away with the win.

  • Pick: Michigan State


Picks Record: 83-32-0