Forget potential Big Ten championship preview. Saturday’s showdown between No. 3 Purdue (23-3, 12-1 Big Ten) and No. 4 Michigan State (23-3, 11-2) could very easily serve as a national championship preview. On a busy Saturday in the college basketball world, this matchup still stands out above the rest.
Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch the game live on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for a free trial of a cable-free, live-TV streaming service. There are many to choose from, but here’s our recommendation for watching tonight’s battle between the Spartans and Boilermakers:
DirecTV Now: There are four different channel packages, and ESPN is included in all of them. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, plus you can either get a free Amazon Fire TV if you prepay two months, or $25 off your first month with promo code “YESNOW”.
Once signed up, you can watch the game on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app.
You can also watch via WatchESPN.com on your computer, or via the WatchESPN app on your phone, tablet or streaming device. When asked to verify your cable provider, you’ll just use your DirecTV Now credentials to sign in.
For as good as these teams are, both come stumbling into this key matchup.
After barely holding off last-place Rutgers last week, Purdue–who are currently projected as a No. 1 seed–let a double-digit second-half lead slip away at home against Ohio State and were dealt their first Big Ten loss of the season. The Boilermakers had a 53-39 advantage halfway through the second half, but over the last 10 minutes of the game, they committed four turnovers to Ohio State’s zero and were out-scored, 25-10.
“We couldn’t catch the ball in that last 10 minutes. It wasn’t just one guy,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “We were having a tough time simply catching the ball and concentrating. It’s hard to run an offense when you can’t pass or catch.”
Michigan State, meanwhile, has won seven straight since a January 13 loss at home against Michigan, but they’ve hardly been convincing in many of those wins. Each of their last four victories have come by single digits, including narrow three-point wins against Indiana and Iowa the last two times out.
“I’ll give you the best excuse I can give you. The five games in 12 days is really taking a toll on us,” Spartans head coach Tom Izzo said after the win over Iowa. “We were beat.
“We’re ways away from our ceiling. These guys are learning a lot. These guys are very, very young.”
Of course, all of that means very little in the grand scheme of things. These are still two of the most talented teams in the nation. They can both shoots the light out (Purdue is second in the nation in three-point percentage; Michigan State is seventh). They can both defend (Purdue is 13th in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency; Michigan State is 10th); and they have both have future NBA players. There are two teams in the country that rank in the Top 10 in both effective field goal percentage and effective field goal percentage defense: Purdue (eighth and 10th, respectively) and Michigan State (fourth and second).
Recent struggles be damned, this is one hell of a matchup. You might see it against at Madison Square Garden, or even the Alamodome, but you still don’t want to miss it this time around.