With Big Ten basketball play about to start, there are plenty of great matchups this season.
After a very successful non-conference schedule (although there are a couple of weeks of it left still in between conference games), Big Ten basketball is here! In what was considered a down year in the Big Ten, multiple teams have been outperforming expectations early, and I think the trio of Illinois, Purdue, and Indiana have shown that the league has talent at the top. Below I’ll go over 10 games that I’m excited about in the Big Ten basketball season.
- Illinois at Indiana (Feb. 18)
- Michigan at Indiana (Mar. 5)
- Wisconsin at Iowa (Dec. 11)
- Purdue at Ohio State (Jan. 5)
- Ohio State at Michigan State (Mar. 4)
10) Michigan at Wisconsin (Feb. 14)
Will love be in the air at Kohl Center on Valentine’s Day? Probably not. It’ll be the first matchup since Michigan head coach Juwan Howard and Ohio State assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft got into a scuffle after the game that resulted in multiple suspensions.
Aside from the antics, this is always a good matchup. Both teams have been towards the middle of the Big Ten as of right now, and this could be a big matchup for seeding purposes come Big Ten Tourney time.
9) Northwestern at Nebraska (Jan. 24)
Ok, ok, ok. Hear me out. Yes, these are projected to be two of the worst teams in the Big Ten. Yes, neither team is projected to be in the tourney discussion. BUT, these are two teams that should have a fun matchup. Nebraska has multiple players in CJ Wilcher and Derrick Walker who are having good seasons. Keisei Tominaga is good to go off for 25 points on any given night. Northwestern is another team that is more guard-heavy, and they have a couple of fun shot creators in Boo Buie and Chase Audige.
8) Maryland at Penn State (Mar. 5)
These are two teams that have been bigger surprises in Big Ten basketball this season. Maryland has beaten everyone by at least 16 heading into conference play, headlined by Donta Scott. Penn State has a few really solid wins.
These are two teams that are not afraid to get up threes, and it should make for a very fun game. Maybe by the time this game comes around, there is less meaning, but this could be an essential game for byes heading into the Big Ten Tournament.
7) Indiana at Purdue (Feb. 25)
Hint – this is not the only time this matchup appears on this list. The rivals located in the state of Indiana have been two of the most impressive teams in the conference and the country thus far. Coming late in the season, this very well could have a huge impact on a Big Ten Champion.
6) Michigan at Michigan State (Jan. 7)
This game will be pretty early in the Big Ten basketball season, and it will be an important one. Michigan State started out hot, but has been hit by the injury bug a bit, causing some not-great games including an 18-point loss to Notre Dame.
Michigan has not been playing the best, but they have Hunter Dickinson, and he is not liked at Michigan State. This should be a very hectic environment that will be fun to watch.
5) Illinois at Iowa (Feb. 4)
These are the two fastest-paced teams in the Big Ten, and they have two very good offenses. The teams mirror each other to a degree, although Iowa’s star is a forward, and Illinois’ is a guard. This will be the fastest-paced game of the entire conference schedule, and it will be must-see tv.
4) Illinois at Maryland (Dec. 2)
It is the opening game of the Big Ten conference schedule! On top of that, it features two teams that have looked very good in non-conference play. This will be Maryland’s toughest opponent, and it will be their first truly big test to see if they are legit or not.
3) Illinois at Purdue (Mar. 5)
Purdue and Illinois are two of the top three teams in the Big Ten right now. If things hold (VERY big if in a long season of conference play) then this game could decide who wins the Big Ten since it is on the last day.
Mackey Arena is going to be absolutely electric, and there is not much more of a fitting game for the last game at Purdue for the season.
These two teams have contrasting styles as Purdue is going to want to slow it down and work it inside more, while Illinois is going to be pressing and playing as fast as possible.
2) Indiana at Illinois (Jan. 19)
It’s simple. These are projected by many to be the two best teams in the Big Ten. This is a fairly early Big Ten matchup that will have major implications. Coming early in the conference slate, both teams will be looking to use it as fuel for a successful conference run.
I’m really excited for two specific matchups. Trayce Jackson-Davis vs. Coleman Hawkins and Jalen Hood-Schifino vs. Terrence Shannon Jr. TJD and Hawkins are both elite players that impact in many different ways. Jackson-Davis is dominant down low, while Hawkins will look to facilitate from everywhere. JHS vs Shannon will be a rookie vs a vet, two high-level guards that will be fun.
1) Purdue at Indiana (Feb. 4)
Basketball is just so much fun in the state of Indiana, and these two rivals are two of the best in the conference. Edey vs. Trayce Jackson-Davis is one for the ages. Both are elite big men that will be having legit All-American cases. There is a trio of freshman guards, Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer for Purdue, and Jalen Hood-Schifino for Indiana, that will be exciting to see matchup.
The last time Purdue played at Indiana, Indiana got its first win in the series in nine games, thanks to an unreal shooting night from Rob Phinisee. Will Purdue be able to get revenge?