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2/9 Big Ten Preview: Purdue Hosts Iowa

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

There are two games tonight with the top ranked Purdue Boilermakers hosting Iowa and Northwestern traveling to Columbus in a game they desperately need to win.

Game of the Night

Iowa Hawkeyes at #1 Purdue Boilermakers

  • Time/TV: 7:00 PM ET ESPN2

Iowa has bounced back nicely from an 0-3 start in conference play, going 7-2 over the past nine games. They’ll try to continue that success on the road against the Boilermakers. Last time out Purdue almost came back from double digits to upend Indiana on the road, falling short due to first half issues with turnovers and a poor performance from the free throw line.

The Hawkeyes offense has been rolling, scoring at least 81 points in the last three games. Iowa’s offense is more or less the same old same old, with a large number of potential weapons, efficient shooting and a ton of points. The defense, however, is an absolute tire fire. Even more problematic is no one in the rotation for Iowa measures in at taller than 6’9” and they’re about to face off against Zach Edey.

Zach Edey has dominated all season and just put up 33 points and 18 rebounds at Indiana over the weekend. There’s been some inconsistency shooting the ball from the perimeter, but the backcourt has started to solidify. Freshman Braden Smith has struggled a bit as of late, but Purdue has a deep rotation and plenty of options. The Indiana game showed Purdue could fight back and if they can clean up unforced mistakes they should be in much better shape.

With tonight’s game taking place at Mackey and Zach Edey easily the best player in the country so far this season, Iowa will have to out shoot Purdue from range if they want to land the upset. They’re capable of doing it, but Purdue’s defense has been a considerable improvement this season and has less lapses beyond the arc. And unfortunately for Iowa, their defense is one of the worst in the league while also not having the size to match up with Edey.

Iowa’s shooting should keep things close, but Purdue bounces back into the win column.

Pick: Purdue

The Rest

Northwestern Wildcats at Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Time/TV: 8:00 PM ET FS1

In the later game tonight is a somewhat interesting matchup between Ohio State and Northwestern.

Sitting at 16-7 and 7-5 in the league, this has been a surprisingly good season so far for the Wildcats. After tonight, though, Northwestern might have one remaining game (home against Penn State) where they’ll be favored. With home games against Purdue, Indiana and Iowa, as well as road trips to Illinois, Maryland and Rutgers, things are going to get rough. The Wildcats currently are penciled in at the back of the bubble, so a rough stretch over the next month could see Northwestern fall out of the NCAA Tournament picture.

That why tonight’s game against Ohio State is so important. The Buckeyes are reeling on their current 1-9 run, but they still are arguably the more talented team here. Brice Sensabaugh has excelled offensively (defensively not so much) and Ohio State has shown they can score, though their defense leaves room for improvement. The Wildcats have looked better offensively at times, mainly on the backs of Boo Buie and Chase Audige. When these two teams faced off in Evanston earlier in the year the Buckeyes won by 16.

If Northwestern wants to make it to the NCAA Tournament they need to win games like this, especially with the upcoming schedule. Ohio State isn’t a postseason team, but they have more then enough talent that they probably should have been. The defense is a liability but between their offense and home court advantage the Buckeyes stop the bleeding and get back into the win column.

Pick: Ohio State