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3/10 Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals Preview

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament Second Round - Illinois vs Penn State Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten Tournament enters the quarterfinals in it’s third day as the top four teams finally participate. Let’s take a look at the upcoming action.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs #5 Purdue Boilermakers

  • Time/TV: 12:00 PM ET BTN
  • Line: Purdue -5.5

Rutgers winning against Michigan yesterday put the Scarlet Knights in good position to secure a tourney spot, though a second win against Purdue would help lock that in. Purdue needs a win here to help lock up their own one seed, with a loss opening the door to sliding down a seed line in the NCAA Tournament.

The last time these two teams played Purdue lost by a single point in a game where Purdue missed nine free throws. The Boilermakers played sloppy and against a stout Rutgers defense it cost them. Look for Purdue to come out a bit more focused in attempts to avenge their loss to the Knights. Zach Edey should be fine inside, so if Purdue can get their freshmen guards up and running they should be in good shape.

Even with a win against Michigan yesterday Rutgers is still having issues getting their offense up and running. As long as Purdue isn’t ice cold from beyond the arc they should more than capable to get some revenge this afternoon.

Pick: Purdue

Ohio State Buckeyes vs Michigan State Spartans

  • Time/TV: 2:30 PM ET BTN
  • Line: Michigan State -4

In the second game today Ohio State will look to win a third game in a row in the Big Ten Tournament. Following a 1-14 stretch, the Buckeyes have gone 4-1 over their past five games. The one team they’ve lost to over the past five games also happens to be the team they’re set to play today.

Michigan State went 5-2 down the stretch to close the season, finishing out the year with a win against the Buckeyes. The Spartans offense has been up and running, scoring at least 80 points in the past four games. That recent offensive explosion, paired with a suspect Ohio State defense, bodes well for State.

In the second round Ohio State benefited from Iowa shooting 4 of 17 from three and Ahron Ulis and Connor McCaffery combining for 1 point in 47 minutes. The Spartans are a much more balanced team that should find more success across the roster then an Iowa team that had to rely heavily on basically just three players.

Ohio State is about to play their third game within 48 hours and they’re playing a well rested Michigan State team that hasn’t played in about a week. The Spartans may suffer a bit of a regression offensively, but they have more than enough firepower to get past a tired Buckeyes squad.

Pick: Michigan State

Penn State Nittany Lions vs Northwestern Wildcats

  • Time/TV: 6:30 PM ET BTN
  • Line: Penn State -1

Penn State was penciled in as one of the last teams in the tournament heading into yesterday and with Wisconsin and Michigan suffering first game losses and the Nittany Lions knocking off a tourney bound Illinois, they may have played their way into the field. A win today against Northwestern would likely lock that up entirely.

In their only meeting this season Penn State knocked off Northwestern by three in overtime. They managed to do that with Jalen Pickett only scoring 7 points as well. A surging Nittany Lions squad has gone 6-1 over the past seven, beating Illinois twice, Maryland and a road win at Northwestern. The Wildcats win at Rutgers to close the season ended a three game skid.

Penn State definitely has the upper hand offensively, but the Northwestern defense has been a key reason for their success. If the Wildcats can get Boo Buie and Chase Audige going they should be in good shape. Penn State has the higher ceiling between these two teams, but if the Wildcats can defend the perimeter the Nittany Lions will need a big performance from Pickett to win here. Penn State may very well move onto the semis, but they’re also bound to come back down to earth sooner or later. This game is mainly a tossup, with Northwestern getting the slight edge due to their defensive prowess.

Pick: Northwestern

Maryland Terrapins vs #19 Indiana Hoosiers

  • Time/TV: 9:00 PM ET BTN

The late game tonight is interesting because it’s hard to get a gauge on how either of these teams will perform. Maryland was surging towards the back end of the season, but their inability to win on the road lowered them a peg or two to close out the season. Even in yesterday’s 16 point win against Minnesota they took awhile to put the game away against the worst team in the league. Can Maryland knock off a top 20 Indiana team on a neutral court?

Indiana has also been up and down at times this season, including getting walloped by 22 at home against the Hawkeyes and needing overtime on their home floor to knock off Michigan. Will we get the Indiana team that knocked off Purdue and Illinois or the Indiana team that looks beatable? It’s safe to say Trayce Jackson-Davis will likely impress, but can guys like Jalen Hood-Schifino continue to produce at a high level? Speaking of, Hood-Schifino went 1 of 14 from the field the last time these two teams played.

Maryland is a good team but they’re nowhere near as good when they travel west. Indiana can compete with anyone, but they’ve shown that they can also lose to anyone. Jackson-Davis will be fine, so as long as his supporting cast comes out to play the Hoosiers should survive and move on to the semifinals.

Pick: Indiana