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2/4 Big Ten Basketball Preview: Wisconsin Set to Host Purdue

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Purdue Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

There are two games set for the day with the top four teams all set to play today. Let’s take a look at the upcoming action.

Game of the Day

#2 Purdue Boilermakers at #6 Wisconsin Badgers

  • Time/TV: 1:00 PM ET CBS
  • Line: Purdue -1.5

Earlier in the week the Badgers had a rough second half and blew a massive lead against Nebraska on their way to their second conference loss of the season. The Badgers have struggled on the road, losing to Nebraska and Penn State and barely avoiding a loss at Minnesota. Thankfully for Badgers fans they face the Boilermakers at home this afternoon.

Purdue took care of business and avenged an earlier loss against Northwestern with an overtime win. The Boilermakers need to improve from the free throw line after a 63% shooting performance came close to costing them the game against the Wildcats.

Wisconsin has a well balanced starting five but will have a considerable disadvantage inside against reigning NPOY Zach Edey. It’s more or less a given that Edey will have a day, with Edey posting 17 points (7 of 9 from the field) and 19 rebounds in Madison last year. The question and determining factor will be in the backcourt.

Purdue occasionally gets turnover happy and sometimes can be a bit streaky from three. Against a Wisconsin team that has a highly efficient offense Purdue needs to maximize their offensive possessions and limit mistakes. As for Wisconsin, when Purdue struggles it’s usually because they have issues stopping teams from hitting from three. In their two losses this season both Nebraska and Northwestern shot lights out from beyond the arc. If Max Klesmit can stay hot from beyond the arc the Badgers should be in good shape.

If Purdue can find a way to defend the perimeter and keep their turnovers down they should have enough shooting of their own to pair with Edey and find a way to win on the road.

Pick: Purdue

The Rest

Nebraska Cornhuskers at Illinois Fighting Illini

  • Time/TV: 6:30 PM ET BTN
  • Line: Illinois -9.5

In the second game today the Illini look to hold pace with Purdue and Wisconsin towards the top of the Big Ten. They enter the day a game back from Wisconsin and a 1.5 games behind Purdue (while also losing the tiebreaker to the Boilermakers) and if they win will gain ground on whoever loses the first game today.

The Illini are 4-1 over the past five games, though the four wins have came against teams towards the bottom of the conference. Nebraska is a better team then the likes of Indiana or Ohio State, but the Cornhuskers are a more difficult out at home and will be at a disadvantage on the road.

Illinois is hoping that Terrence Shannon Jr.’s second half against the Buckeyes can get him up and running. Since his return he’s shot 4 of 21 from three and only 35.6% from the field while posting 10 assists and 10 turnovers. If Illinois wants to compete with the likes of Purdue and Wisconsin they’ll need more than Shannon, who Illini fans are hoping just needs time to get back up and running. Shannon should return to form sooner or later, but don’t forget he struggled heavily in losses to Marquette and Tennessee and outside of FAU, most of his success came against lesser opposition.

Luckily the lack of Shannon for about a month forced Illinois to turn elsewhere and the remaining starters (particularly Coleman Hawkins and Marcus Domask) showed they could still keep the Illini at the top of the conference. With a relatively solid core outside of Shannon the Illini have still been successful and it has made it easier for Illinois to deal with a struggling Shannon.

Nebraska roared back against Wisconsin to win in overtime, but the last time on road they lost to Maryland by 22. Before that the Cornhuskers lost to Rutgers, Iowa and Wisconsin on the road. They haven’t won a road game in the Big Ten yet this season and that isn’t likely to change today.

Pick: Illinois