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Michigan St. at Purdue Preview, Odds, & How to Watch

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Two ranked teams and a huge Big Ten battle? Must be late season at Mackey Arena.

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Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue has a solid NCAA Tournament resume, but to get a better seed it is going to need a little something extra. So far it has just one victory over a team that was ranked at the time of the game: Vanderbilt (who was only No. 25 at tipoff). Sure, Pittsburgh and Wisconsin have been ranked at various times this season and both Florida and Michigan have been close, but the Boilers lack a good, solid top 25 win.

Enter Michigan St. The Spartans enter tonight as one of 11 teams (along with Purdue) who has been ranked in every top 25 poll this season. They also happen to be in the top 10, which is even better. They are in an odd position because they are most likely out of the Big Ten race, but They are still a team that could finish strong and earn a No. 1 seed. Like many teams in America they have the odd WTF loss (Nebraska at home!?!?!), but overall they have been excellent.

This game is also a bit of an elimination game for a top 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. Iowa and Maryland have two of those four spots on lockdown and Indiana, by virtue of its hot start, has an edge on the third one. With Purdue and Michigan State tied for the fourth spot, and this being the only game between the two, it is a pretty big one for both teams.

Opponent

Michigan State Spartans

Location:

East Lansing, MI

Date:

2/9/2016

Venue:

Mackey Arena (14,846)

TV:

ESPN

Radio Stream:

TuneIn

Satellite Radio:

SIRI 136, XM

Odds:

Michigan State by 1

Tickets:

As low as $27 on Stubhub

Tipoff:

7 pm

KenPom Ranking:

4 of 351

RPI:

18

Blog Representation:

The Only Colors

2015-16 Record:

20-4, 7-4 Big Ten

All-time series

Purdue leads 65-52

Last Purdue win:

67-47 at Michigan State on 2/27/2011

Last Michigan State Win:

72-66 at Michigan State on 3/4/2015

2014-15 Record:

27-12, 12-6 Big Ten (Made Final Four)

Last NCAA appearance:

2015 (32 appearances) 1929 and 2000 NCAA Champions

Coach:

Tom Izzo (514-203 in 21st year at MSU, 23-13 vs. Purdue)

Michigan State has won seven in a row against Purdue. That is currently the longest active win streak of one opponent over the Boilermakers. Purdue's last win came in 2011 when Lewis Jackson had a huge game and the No. 8 Boilers thrashed them in East Lansing 67-47. That team would fall apart completely following that win, and even turned around and lost to MSU by 18just 10 days later in Indianapolis. Since then Sparty has kicked around Purdue a bit, with the closest game coming last season in a six point loss in East Lansing.

Of course, a large reason for that is Michigan State is always really, really damn good at the game of basketball. Since tom Izzo took over they have had to reinforce the roof at the Breslin Center to hold up all the Big Ten and Final Four banners. He is unquestionably the best coach in the Big Ten and when he has had one four year-class in his tenure NOT make a Final Four that is pretty damn good.

This year has been no different even if the Spartans are off the pace in the Big Ten. At one point they were ranked No. 1 in both polls and they had a school best 13-0 start before losing at Iowa. Like Purdue, the Hawkeyes swept Michigan State in two games during their surprise run to the top. The only other losses were by a point each at Wisconsin and at home against Nebraska.

The Nebraska loss was a third in a row, but since then they have beaten Maryland at home, then pounded Northwestern, Rutgers, and Michigan. During their 13-0 start they also beat Kansas, Boise State, Louisville, Providence, and Florida as possible NCAA teams. That doesn't mean they are unbeatable, however. Yes, Denzel Valentine did not play, but being taken to overtime by Oakland was a surprise. The home loss to Nebraska (with Valentine) was a stunner as well.

Valentine is the heart and soul of this team, however. He is a triple-double waiting to happen on any given night as he averages 18.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 6.7 assists while shooting 47% from the floor and 44% from three. That's good for second in scoring, fifth in rebounding, and first in assists in the Big Ten. Really, it is probably a three-man race between him, Jarrod Uthoff, and Melo Trimble for B1G Player of the Year.

The Spartans are far from a one-man show, however. Bryn Forbes is the top 3-point shooter in the conference at 50.3% (75 of 149). Only Valentine and Michigan's Duncan Robinson have more attempts from long range. He averages 14.3 points per game. Matt Costello provides the bulk inside at 6'9" and he averages 9.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Only Purdue's Caleb Swanigan is a better rebounder in the conference.

And that is how it goes, really. This is a typical Michigan State team that rebounds the basketball extremely well, has a B1G POTY candidate, and a bunch of guys that know their roles. Eron Harris, the transfer from West Virginia, fills in some scoring at 9.7 points per game. Deyonta Davis is having a great freshman year in the middle at 7.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Gavin Schilling has missed some time due to injury, but is back playing significant minutes. Lourawls Nairn Jr. is currently out with an injury and that could be a factor.

The Spartans also share the basketball extreme well. They average 20 assists per game as a team, but Nairn averaged 4.5 per game before he was hurt. They also play great team defense, limiting teams to 37% shooting from the floor and 28.2% from three.

This should be a great game because both teams are virtually dead even statistically. They are 1-2 in the Big Ten  in rebounding, assists, field goal defense, and scoring defense. They are 3-4 in scoring, and in scoring margin it goes Michigan State-Indiana-Purdue as 1-2-3 in the Big Ten. What could be a factor is turnovers. The Spartans are last in turnover margin in the conference, but Purdue is just 11th.

I expect a close, hard fought contest tonight because neither team is going to make anything easy. It is a bigger game for Purdue, however, because the Boilers need it more. Even if the Spartans don't get back into the Big Ten race their profile is going to give them a good seed in the NCAA Tournament and they will be a Final Four threat once again. Purdue desperately needs a resume win like this to go from being "solid NCAA Tournament lock in the 5-6-7 seed range" to "dark horse Final Four team in the 3-4 seed range".

Purdue is also playing at home, where, aside from one terrible half against Iowa, it has been dominant. The Boilers need to get the crowd behind them early and ride it all night long. Mackey Arena turns into a special place during games like this, and I expect no different tonight.