On Tuesday night, seven of the 12 teams from the nation's cream of the crop conference will hit the floor, all of which will tip off between 5:30 and 8:00 CST. Six of these seven will have home-court advantage on their side, while Northwestern travels to Waco, Texas, to take on Baylor.
Northwestern, as well as Purdue, are coming off losses this past weekend and look to get back to their winning ways. The remaining five teams, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa all looked impressive in their last contests and look to continue this same success.
Purdue (3-4) vs. Lamar (1-6)- 5:30 BTN
Lamar comes in with a lone win over IUPUI and ranks 328th in scoring offense in D-I. Purdue has dropped two home games this season, to Bucknell and Xavier, but should get back to their winning ways Tuesday evening.
Terone Johnson has been the best Boilermaker as of late, while DJ Byrd needs to rebound from a poor shooting outing against Xavier. Purdue needs to get consistency from their frontcourt players: AJ Hammons, Donnie Hale and Jacob Lawson.
Minnesota (8-1) vs. South Dakota State (6-2)- 7:00
South Dakota State's Nate Wolters is one of the more underrated players in the nation, currently averaging over 20 points per game for the Jackrabbits. SDST's two losses are to Alabama and Hofstra by a combined six points.
Minnesota has won four straight contests since losing to second-ranked Duke. Rodney Williams Jr. has been excellent in all facets of the game, while Andre Hollins has been orchestrating the Golden Gopher offense with ease. Trevor Mbakwe needs to continue to get back on track, however.
Illinois (8-0) vs. Western Carolina (3-5)- 7:00
The Fighting Illini will have a tuneup matchup against the Catamounts before facing off with Gonzaga this coming Saturday. Up to this point, Western Carolina's toughest opponent has been Wichita State.
Illinois' backcourt has continued to shine, leading the nation in made three-pointers per game. Seniors DJ Richardson and Brandon Paul continue to be solid, while redshirt junior Joe Bertrand put on a display on his athleticism last Wednesday against Georgia Tech.
Wisconsin (5-3) vs. Nebraska-Omaha (2-7)- 7:00
The Mavericks from Nebraska-Omaha come in with only two wins, over lowly Northern Illinois and Chicago State. Wisconsin looked like the Badgers of old, defeating Cal by 25 at home on Sunday afternoon.
Ben Brust has been one of the better surprise players in the Big Ten, while the senior frontcourt trio of Jared Berggren, Ryan Evans and Mike Bruesewitz are solid as always. Look for freshman Sam Dekker to break out.
Iowa (6-2) vs. South Dakota (4-4)- 7:00
The Hawkeyes and Coyotes will face off Tuesday evening in Iowa City. South Dakota, who currently holds a .500 record, is coming off a win over IUPUI. Iowa is a perfect 5-0 at home this season, a place they'll exclusively be playing at until a Jan. 6 road game at Michigan State.
Roy Devyn Marble is the team's best all-around player, though Aaron White could argue that. Melsahn Basabe has been a nice spark off the bench on a team starting two freshmen: Adam Woodbury and Mike Gesell.
Michigan (7-0) vs. Western Michigan (6-1)- 7:30 BTN
The Western Michigan Broncos will travel from Kalamazoo to Ann Arbor, hoping to pull the upset over the third-ranked Wolverines and extend their winning streak to seven games. Freshman Darius Paul, younger brother of Illinois' Brandon Paul, is WMU's second-leading scorer.
John Beilein's team hopes to remain unbeaten, led by the efforts of Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week Nik Stauskas.
Northwestern (6-2) @ Baylor (5-2)- 8:00 ESPN2
After a 6-0 start, the Wildcats had a rough week losing twice at home, to both Maryland and Illinois-Chicago. Baylor, on the other hand, is beaming with confidence after a road win over Kentucky on Saturday.
These two teams met last year in Evanston, in a game completely dominated by the Baylor Bears. Seniors Drew Crawford, Reggie Hearn and Jared Swopshire need help from their younger Wildcat teammates to pull off a huge upset over Pierre Jackson, Cory Jefferson and Co.
1. Wisconsin Badgers (most confident)
2. Illinois Fighting Illini
3. Michigan Wolverines
4. Minnesota Golden Gophers
5. Iowa Hawkeyes
6. Purdue Boilermakers
7. Northwestern Wildcats (least confident)
Aside from Northwestern, all other Big Ten teams should be able to pull out W's on Tuesday evening, especially considering that three opponents come from the Summit League. Wisconsin and Illinois should have their games won in the first half.
Michigan should win easily despite playing a Western Michigan team with a 6-1 record. Michigan struggled to give Bradley a knockout punch on Saturday, although that was a road game. Minnesota and Iowa face the South Dakota state schools, both of whom are better than their names might indicate.
Nate Wolters could give Minnesota trouble, but they have enough weapons to cancel him out. My faith in Purdue is low, but even they should beat up on Lamar. Northwestern is outmatched athletically against Baylor and will have some uneven matchups. Anything better than a blowout loss for Bill Carmody's squad would surprise me.