In the final day of Big Ten January basketball, the Penn State Nittany Lions travel to No. 5 Michigan State to keep their hot streak alive, while the Maryland Terrapins travel to No. 3 Purdue just to keep their tournament hopes alive.
Penn State’s schedule features a string of tough matchups, but lots of opportunities, playing the Spartans tonight, hosting No. 17 Ohio State and No. 24 Michigan at home, and traveling to Purdue. If Penn State wins the rest of their games against their unranked opponents and picks up one or two ranked wins, who knows, maybe they sneak their way in.
For Maryland however, NCAA tournament opportunities are hard to come by, playing after Purdue just one ranked team in Michigan. If they lose to Purdue tonight, a long run, or even championship, in the Big Ten tournament will have to get the Terrapins in the dance.
You can preview all of the games below. All spreads are based off ESPN.
Game of the Day:
– Maryland Terrapins at No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers
- Time/TV: 8:30PM ET BTN
- ESPN Spread: Purdue (-14.5)
Purdue imposes the toughest matchup out of anyone in the Big Ten, possibly the country, having a 7-foot-2 starter in Isaac Haas, just to have a 7-foot-3 backup in Matt Haarms come off the bench. Not to mention, they have one of the best, if not the best, three point shooting roster in the country.
What can Maryland do to stop this behemoth of a team? Win the game on offense, not defense. Not many teams have stopped Purdue on defense this year, so the only teams coming close to beating them have been the teams to score right along with the Boilermakers. Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter will have to show up if Maryland wants any chance to win this game, and possibly keep their tournament hopes alive, because they’re running out of time.
- Pick Against the Spread: Maryland
– Penn State Nittany Lions at No. 5 Michigan State Spartans
- Time/TV: 6:30PM ET BTN
- ESPN Spread: Michigan State (-12.5)
Penn State has caught fire as of late heading into the February stretch of games, winning two straight, including a huge upset win at Ohio State, who came in ranked at No. 13 at the time. For a team that has the talent to make the NCAA tournament, wins against teams like Ohio State catch the selection committee’s eyes.
The Nittany Lions win over the Buckeyes wasn’t a fluke, this team has talent, but the question is, can they do it again? Penn State has four ranked games left and a couple against teams higher than them in the Big Ten standings. February will be Penn State’s most important month this season, and an exceptional run from them could get them in the tournament.
Beating Michigan State will have to be a “grinding” type of game if Penn State wants to win, for they need to prevent Miles Bridges and Josh Langford at all costs.
- Pick Against the Spread: Michigan State