Twelve teams have fallen and two remain to pursue the Big Ten men’s basketball Tournament championship in Chicago.
Regular season champion Purdue advanced past a surging Ohio State team while a red-hot Penn State squad upset No. 3-seed Indiana to get here. It’s mentor vs. mentee as the Boilermakers’ Matt Painter takes on his former assistant, the Nittany Lions’ Micah Shrewsberry.
With that being said, let’s preview the game:
Big Ten Championship
No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers vs No. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions
- Time/TV: 2:30 CT, 3:30 ET (CBS)
- KenPom: Purdue by six
Finally, the Big Ten Championship. Not a ton of stakes here, the winner will take home an auto-bid for the NCAA Tournament but both of these teams are safely within the field of 68.
No. 1-seed Purdue is the league’s regular season champion, having won the conference by a comfortable margin largely on the back of Big Ten Player of the Year Zach Edey dominating the post.
It was Edey who led the Boilermakers past Ohio State in the semifinals with 32 points, though Brandon Newman and Braden Smith chipped in with 15 and 14, respectively. That was after overcoming a slight scare against Rutgers wherein the Scarlet Knights were able to keep the matchup close throughout as they fight to overcome their bubble status.
Mason Gillis led Purdue in scoring against Rutgers from the bench with 20, showing that the Boilermakers have options if Edey can’t win a game on his own.
No. 10-seed Penn State is a far different team. The Nittany Lions started the season strong before questionable losses began piling up as conference play drew to a close, with their performance in the Big Ten Tournament all but locking up a tournament bid.
The Nittany Lions have torn through Illinois, Northwestern and Indiana behind the spectacular play of Jalen Pickett and strong shooting performances from those around him. All three were home games, and Penn State can expect a similar environment on Sunday.
Purdue has dominated Penn State when the two have met on the court, winning 76-63 in Philadelphia in January and 80-60 at Mackey Arena in February. The Nittany Lions committed to stopping Zach Edey in those matchups, which came back to bit them when Purdue’s supporting cast proved more than capable of piling on points themselves.
The same is likely to happen today. Penn State has to be tired after playing three games in as many days and Purdue has only played two in two days with the Boilermakers’ starters being able to rest in the semifinals thanks to an insurmountable lead.
Purdue takes this one to win both the regular season and tournament championships.
- Pick: Purdue