The top spot in the Big Ten is up for grabs Wednesday night at Mackey Arena, as No. 3 Purdue (23-2, 12-0) takes on No. 14 Ohio State (20-5, 11-1).
Tipoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET, and the game will be broadcast on Big Ten Network. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch Big Ten Network on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for a free trial of one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
Fubo TV: The “Fubo Premier” channel package includes Big Ten Network. You can sign up for free 7-day trial, and then you can watch on your computer via the FuboTV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the FuboTV app.
DirecTV Now: There are four different channel packages, while “Just Right” and above are the ones that include Big Ten Network. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, and then you can watch on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app.
Since back-to-back losses in late November, Purdue has been unblemished: 19 wins in 19 games, including 12-0 in the Big Ten and wins over Arizona, Louisville, Butler, Maryland (twice) and Michigan (twice). They’re ranked third in the country and are strong candidates to grab a No. 1 seed come March.
But despite the run of perfection over the last two-plus months, the Boilermakers–who have yet to win a Big Ten regular season title since joining in 1993–haven’t been able to completely pull away in the conference. Like Matt Damon in Rounders, the Buckeyes are hanging around. They’re 15-2 in their last 17, they have wins over Michigan and Michigan State, and their only Big Ten loss was a three-point home defeat against Penn State two weeks ago.
As such, the Boilermakers hold a one-game lead over Ohio State in the Big Ten, but because this is the only head-to-head meeting of the season, it’s essentially for the outright lead in the conference.
So, the stakes are clear. What about the actual matchup?
Purdue, who has yet to lose at home this season, is favored by nine points. Owners of the third-best offensive efficiency in the country, they have five players (Dakota Mathias, Carsen Edwards, P.J. Thompson, Vince Edwards, Ryan Cline) who average more than 1.0 three made per game at a 40 percent clip or better, they have one of the most imposing big men in the nation in 7-foot-2 Isaac Haas, and they take care of the ball (29th in America in turnover percentage). Throw in a nearly-as-efficient defense–ninth in effective field-goal percentage against–and it’s no surprise to see them favored by such a significant margin at home, even against a good Ohio State squad.
All that said, Matt Painter’s squad hasn’t been nearly as dominant as of late, with wins of four (vs. Michigan), seven (at Indiana), eight (vs. Maryland) and two points (at Rutgers) in their last four, and Ohio State has one of the best players in the nation in Keita Bates-Diop, who can control the game on both ends of the floor.
Throw it all together, and you have the recipe for what should be one of the best games of the week.