Minnesota (15-8, 5-6) @ Wisconsin (20-4, 10-2), 2 p.m. ET, BTN
Wisconsin is coming off an exhausting victory over Indiana on Wednesday night. The Badgers trailed Indiana 66-65 after two Gordon free throws with 17 seconds left. Brian Butch banked in a three-pointer with five seconds left to avoid losing back to back games in the Big Ten. Wisconsin has won four of five and is in second place in the Big Ten.
Tubby Smith has to be scratching his head after the Gophers got hammered at home by Illinois, 84-60. Minnesota will have to do something spectacular to make the NCAA tournament.
Wisconsin held Minnesota to 47 points in their first meeting, a 63-47 victory. Wisconsin leads the Big Ten in scoring defense (55.3 ppg) and will improve on this statistic on Saturday against Minnesota. Bo Ryan is 104-7 at the Kohl Center in seven seasons and one of those seven losses came last Saturday night against Purdue. Wisconsin is not going to lose two straight at home. Expect a snoozer to start the day.
Purdue (20-5, 11-1) @ Northwestern (7-15, 0-11), 4 p.m. ET, BTN
Purdue avenged its only loss in the Big Ten with a 60-54 victory over Michigan State on Tuesday night. Purdue lost at Michigan State on Jan. 8th, 78-75. Robbie Hummel, freshman superstar, was sick and did not play in the first meeting. Hummel contributed 24 points in the second meeting of the year and Purdue survived a furious comeback. Purdue led at the half 34-18, however, Michigan State made some runs and actually had the deficit trimmed to one point on three occasions.
Northwestern is still searching for their first conference win after losing at home to Ohio State, 65-47. Northwestern has shown some life in the last couple of games. At Michigan State they only trailed by three with 10 minutes left in the game. Against Ohio State on Wednesday night it was a tie ball game with eight minutes left in the game.
Purdue is one of the hottest teams in the country and there is no reason to believe they are going to cool off at Evanston on Saturday. Purdue will handle Northwestern and finally get some respect in the polls on Sunday night.
Illinois (11-14, 3-9) @ Penn State (11-12, 3-8), 7 p.m. ET, BTN
After Illinois lost three straight to Michigan State, Purdue and Indiana they went on the road and hammered Minnesota, 84-60. Meacham had 19 points on 5-5 shooting behind the arc against Minnesota.
After shocking Michigan State last Saturday night, Penn State has dropped two games on the road at Purdue and Michigan. The Nittany Lions have lost seven of eight games since the injury to Claxton, Penn State’s leading scorer.
The final leg of the Big Ten Network triple-header should be a competitive game throughout. Illinois has to be confident coming in after their impressive road win over the Gophers. Penn State is a much better team at home, nine of their 11 wins have been at home. Penn State will take advantage of their home court and get back on track with a victory over the Illini.
Indiana seemed to be in position to contend for the Big Ten title. They were 9-1 in the conference after a tough road win at Ohio State. Off the court the Sampson mess surfaced and put the coach’s job in serious jeopardy. On the court, Wisconsin’s Brian Butch threw in a 3-point bank shot with five seconds left to shock Indiana at home, 68-66.
Michigan State also had their problems during the week. On Tuesday night, Drew Neitzel was 1-7 from the field and only had six points. Michigan State trailed at the half 34-18 and could not recover from 19 turnovers. Purdue’s tenacity on defense and another superstar performance from Robbie Hummel, 24 points, was too much for the Spartans.
A dark cloud is hovering over Bloomington at the moment and has really taken some of the excitement this matchup would normally have. College GameDay is going to be in Bloomington and will probably spend a majority of the time talking about the Sampson allegations. Indiana has scheduled a press conference for 3 p.m. ET this afternoon. Is this the end for Sampson?
Michigan State has to win this game to stay in the conference race. They are currently two and a half games behind Purdue. Indiana on the other hand needs something positive to hang its hat on. Another loss at home is only going to make the Sampson mess harder to deal with.
I like the Spartans' chances in this game even though the game is in Bloomington. DJ White will have some foul trouble early in the game. Drew Neitzel will bounce back and out play Eric Gordon.
This is a can’t miss game if you are a Big Ten college basketball fan.
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