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1/13 Big Ten basketball preview: Northwestern at Wisconsin

The Wildcats take on the red-hot Badgers in the Kohl Center.

Syndication: Journal Sentinel Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

We’re off and running in Big Ten play as the top of the standings look a bit different from what anyone may have expected going into the season.

For one, Wisconsin and Northwestern stand alone at the top with the former being undefeated in league play. Behind them are teams like Illinois and Minnesota with Purdue sitting at fifth after getting upset on the road by Northwestern and now Nebraska.

Now, suddenly, one of Saturday’s games will decide who sits atop the standings.

Game of the Day

Northwestern Wildcats at Wisconsin Badgers

  • Time/TV: Noon on BTN
  • KenPom spread: Badgers by 9

This is it, a game everyone definitely had circled on calendars ahead of the season. Winner takes an early lead in the conference standings.

Jokes aside, it’s absolutely remarkable what Wisconsin is doing in conference play so far. The Badgers are 11th overall in KenPom as of Friday afternoon and are 4-0 in league play. That’s not easy even for good teams, just ask Purdue.

AJ Storr is exactly what the roster needed. As Greg Gard’s new go-to guy, he takes scoring pressure off of everyone else and the Badgers’ offense looks so much more comfortable than it did last year thanks to his presence.

On the other hand, Northwestern needs as many good wins as it can get after a loss to Chicago State all but cancels out a win over Purdue. The noon start could make things weird but Wisconsin should take care of business at home.

  • Pick: Wisconsin

Penn State Nittany Lions at Purdue Boilermakers

  • Time/TV: 2:15 p.m. ET on BTN
  • KenPom spread: Boilers by 20

Purdue does not like to lose. At all.

The Boilers blew out Iowa at home after the opening loss to Northwestern on the road and Penn State has found itself in a rather concerning position. The Nittany Lions are 110 spots lower in the KenPom rankings than the Boilers.

It’s not like last year’s team, which could catch fire from deep and maybe cause some issues. Purdue should roll here.

  • Pick: Purdue