There is currently a three way tie for first place in the Big Ten and that could all change this weekend. Purdue travels to East Lansing to take on Michigan State while Maryland hits the road to take on Wisconsin at the Kohl Center. A win by Michigan State and Maryland would completely clear that three way tie but either way one team is dropping out of the logjam to third place.
Illinois at Iowa (-5) || 2:00pm ET || BTN
Stewmonkey13: Iowa is having a white out game and a large group from the 1980 final four team will be in town to help raise money for Kenny Arnold. Arnold was an integral member on that team who is now in failing health mostly due to the after effects from a brain tumor he had removed 30 years ago. Hopefully the crowds and the team steps up for that cause and beats Illinois so badly that Groce gets Kiffined.
Prediction: Iowa 78, Illinois 67
Michigan State at #16 Purdue (-9.5) || 4:00pm ET || ESPN
Andrew: MSU will probably get squashed by Purdue on Saturday, as they haven’t gotten any taller since the last matchup and this one is in West Lafayette. Purdue fans will probably think this evens the ledger for a decade of Izzo dominating Painter (it doesn’t).
DJ: I think Michigan State beats the spread on this game and keeps it close enough to have a punchers chance at the end of the game. The key here will be getting Isaac Haas in foul trouble so Purdue cannot take advantage of putting both Haas and Caleb Swanigan in at the same time, although that’s not generally often. Pretty much if they can make Haas dribble the ball he’s going to be ineffective, so get Ward to body him up and not just go through his standard motions.
Prediction: Purdue 67, Michigan State 63
rutger at Northwestern (-12) || 6:00pm ET || ESPNU
MNWildcat: Northwestern hosts rutger on Saturday with nothing to gain, its reputation to save, and everything to lose. Win, and the dream stays alive for a little longer before being extinguished. Lose, and it’s all over but my institutionalization.
Scottie Lindsey’s back, which is nice for the ‘Cats, who struggled briefly with rutger last time. Hopefully his presence plus the continued maturation of Dererk Pardon inside will be enough to get the ‘Cats over the finish line at home.
DJ: Coming off a loss that would have cemented their tournament birth, Northwestern will be looking for blood with the return of Scottie Lindsey to make a point that it’s #TheYear. Bryant McIntosh won’t struggle for two games in a row and rutger will be on the receiving end of Chris Collins trying to make a point.
Prediction: Northwestern 84, rutger 65
Nebraska at Ohio State (-5) || 6:00pm ET || BTN
BRT: Coming off of a nice home win over PSU, the Huskers travel to Columbus to try to avenge one of their many one-point losses this season. I’m not sure what to expect for an outcome on this one, though I expect the Huskers to be (as they mostly have been this season) competitive and with a shot to win late in the game. If their hot shooting continues from Tuesday, OSU will have a tough time. Isaiah Robb, who left the game on Tuesday with an ankle injury, is 50/50 on whether he will be available against the Buckeyes. He had a nice game on Tuesday, so here’s hoping he’s able to play sooner rather than later!
DJ: Home Buckeyes are much different than Away Buckeyes. Ohio State has played much better at home this year and I’m interested to see who matches up with Jae’Sean Tate as he’ll be a beast to contain for a Nebraska team that does not play that big other than Ed Morrow. If Nebraska’s guards can get into the lane, Ohio State has shown the propensity to get into foul trouble quickly. I think Ohio State pulls this one off at home but if Nebraska can shoot hot from three this one could easily sway their way.
Prediction: Ohio State 64, Nebraska 60
#23 Maryland at #11 Wisconsin (-9) || 1:00pm ET || CBS
DJ: Undoubtedly the game of the weekend for the Big Ten, Maryland at Wisconsin will see both first place teams face off against each other to create some separation at the top of the standings as both teams jockey for position in the NCAA Tournament. Melo Trimble is coming off of a career game at Northwestern where he dropped 32 points. Bronson Koenig is questionable for this game and many believe he’ll be out for Wisconsin, which puts D’Mitrick Trice into the starting lineup. Trice has shot well from three off the bench most of the year but has been slumping in Big Ten play and went 2-15 the other night in a loss to Michigan. Expect Anthony Cowan to draw Trice all night in defense, where he has excelled as a freshman this year even when slumping in point production. Overall, this will obviously come down to how Maryland handles Ethan Happ, who leads Wisconsin in points, rebounds, and assists. In Wisconsin’s last three games, teams have been showing double teams against Happ and begging someone else on Wisconsin to beat them. I expect Turgeon will employ this again and the pessimist in me is just guessing whice random Wisconsin bench player gets hot from three to destroy us.
Prediction: Maryland 58, Wisconsin 54
Michigan at Minnesota || 7:00pm ET || BTN
DJ: Did Michigan just lock up its tournament bid with a signature win over Wisconsin? I think they should be in at this point but they can’t stumble to the finish or they’ll move right onto the bubble. This game screams a big Minnesota win because they match up so well against Michigan’s strength, which is the three. If Michigan can effectively move the ball and use single/double ball screens to get their three point shooters open shots, this game will be very fun to watch. If they can’t? Reggie Lynch and Jordan Murphy are guaranteed to feast inside and Nate Mason won’t have an issue feeding them all night.
Prediction: Minnesota 64, Michigan 57