Big Ten Weekend Look Ahead: 01.22.16 Edition

Posted by Alex Moscoso on January 22nd, 2016

After a three-week hiatus, the Weekend Look Ahead is back! The return is well timed: there are four top-notch games that may have lasting impact on both the Big Ten title race and NCAA Tournament seeding. Here are the games to watch in the B1G this weekend:

Denzel Valentine is will try to stop the Spartan's free fall when they host Maryland at home. (Getty)

Denzel Valentine will try to help stop the Spartans’ losing streak when they host Maryland at home Saturday. (Getty)

Northwestern at #25 Indiana (Saturday 12 pm ET, ESPNU). On Tuesday, the Wildcats almost got the marquee win their resume so desperately needs, ultimately losing in overtime at Maryland. Northwestern gets another shot to upset a ranked team on the road when they head to Bloomington on Saturday, while Indiana tries to keep up with Iowa as the only remaining teams undefeated in conference play. In addition to conference race ramifications, this game also treats us to a matchup between Bryant McIntosh and Yogi Ferrell – two of the best point guards in the Big Ten. The Wildcats competed with Maryland largely due to their defense stifling the Terps’ offense (only 0.91 points per possession for Maryland). They’ll have their hands full with an Indiana attack that has been on fire; most recently, it put on a clinic against Illinois in scoring an amazing 1.45 points per possession.

Michigan at Nebraska (Saturday 2 pm ET, ESPN2). The big question coming into this game will be whether Caris Levert finally returns from injury. If so, how much he plays and how effective he is will be critical in deciding whether they escape Lincoln with a win. The Cornhuskers will be trying to extend their current winning streak to five games. A win would give Nebraska some serious momentum going into the second half of their conference schedule as they try to make a run similar to the one they manufactured in 2013-14 when they won ten of their last 12 Big Ten games. On Wednesday, Shavon Shields dominated Michigan State inside and scored 28 points in the Cornhuskers’ biggest win of the season. The senior forward, along with junior forward Andrew White, will try to repeat this success against Michigan’s four-guard lineup.

#7 Maryland at #11 Michigan State (Saturday 6:30 pm ET, ESPN). After their stunning loss to Nebraska at the Breslin Center, the Spartans are in a free fall. Have they hit rock-bottom yet? The Terps, on the other hand, have a stellar resume with only two losses against North Carolina and Michigan on the road, although there have been a few shaky wins along the way. Maryland’s good fortunes may continue if Michigan State is forced to play without point guard Tum Tum Nairn for the third game in a row. Whether Nairn is in or out of the lineup, Tom Izzo will have to motivate his guys to shore up a defense that allowed 1.11 points per possession against Nebraska. Another loss for the Spartans would put them five games behind in the Big Ten title race and effectively eliminate any hope of a Big Ten regular season title – a shocking turn of events from just two weeks ago.

#22 Purdue at #9 Iowa (Sunday 1 pm ET, BTN). This will be, without a doubt, the most anticipated game of the weekend. The Boilermakers will be extra motivated to erase the memory of giving up a 21-point lead to the Hawkeyes earlier this month at Mackey Arena. But on the road in Iowa City, that won’t be easy. It will be the third game Purdue has played in less than a week, and no team in the country seems to be playing as well as Iowa is at the moment. In their previous matchup, Purdue fell apart once Fran McCaffery had his Hawkeyes press the Boilermakers. Matt Painter will need to prep his guards for the pressure they’ll see on Sunday and emphasize the need to get the ball into his big men to start the offense in every possession. The Boilers got away from their inside game in that fatal second half on Jan. 2. History will repeat itself if they can’t execute their offense to take advantage of their size inside.

Alex Moscoso (170 Posts)

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