Big Ten Weekend Look Ahead: 02.13.16 Edition

Posted by Alex Moscoso on February 13th, 2016

Finally! After two weekends of mediocre action, Big Ten fans are treated to a packed slate of games with the top six contenders playing against one another or facing teams nipping at their heels. These games will have tremendous implications on the regular season title race, Big Ten tournament seeding and NCAA Tournament at-large bids. So set up camp on that couch this weekend, because there’s plenty of ball to be watched. Here the top Big Ten games of the weekend.

Yogi Ferrell will try and keep his Hoosiers in the Big Ten title race with a win against the Spartans.

Yogi Ferrell will try and keep his Hoosiers in the Big Ten title race with a win against the Spartans.

#18 Purdue at Michigan (Saturday 2:00 PM ET, ESPN2): This is essentially a playoff game to remain in the race for the regular season title — although the winner would still be a considerable long shot. Michigan only has two top 50 KenPom wins this season (Texas and Maryland). Their poor performance against elite competition has typecast the Wolverines as a good-not-great team. If Caris Levert returns to the lineup today, he may provide a spark Michigan needs to get a win over a ranked team and garner some momentum going into the final few weeks of the regular season. The Boilermakers, on the other hand, are not only trying to compete for a Big Ten title but also vying for a protected seed in the NCAA Tournament. This game will be decided by one metric: three-pointers made by Michigan. If the Wolverines don’t get hot from outside the Boilermakers’ front line will simply eat them up. If Purdue can bother the Michigan shooters enough, though, they’ll add another excellent road win on their resume.

Wisconsin at #2 Maryland (Saturday 6:30 PM ET, ESPN): There isn’t a hotter squad right now than the Badgers, which are riding a five-game winning streak into College Park. Their impressive run has lifted their conference record at 7-4 and has put them back into contention for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Meanwhile, Maryland finds itself back on top of the standings with Indiana and Iowa. The Terrapins had to rely on a game-winning three-point shot from Melo Trimble to beat the Badgers in their previous meeting at the Kohl Center, but while the game today will be played at the Xfinity Center (where Maryland is undefeated at home), they’ve had some near-losses on their home court to inferior teams like Rider and Penn State. This sets us up for an exciting rematch. If Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon can get their shots dropping early against that weak Wisconsin perimeter defense (opponents shoot 38.4 percent from three, 324th nationally), they should remain undefeated at home and in first place of the Big Ten.

Indiana at #8 Michigan State (Sunday 1:00 PM ET, CBS): It seems crazy that the Hoosiers — coming off a big win against Iowa; tied for first place in the Big Ten; and with 20 wins on the season — are #13 in the RPI and still unranked in the AP poll. But this is where they find themselves in large part because of their unacceptable loss to Penn State last weekend. To remain a legitimate contender for the Big Ten title, Indiana likely needs to come out of East Lansing with a win. The key matchup will be Indiana’s offense against Michigan State’s defense. When the Hoosiers are in rhythm, there isn’t a better offense in the country. That offense does best when Thomas Bryant is able to produce points in the paint and subsequently create space for his shooters. The freshman big man will be tested by the Spartans’ duo down low — Matt Costello and Deyonta Davis. If he can hold his own against them, he might help deliver the Hoosiers another upset win and a realistic path to the regular season title.

Alex Moscoso (170 Posts)

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