This weekend, the only Sunday game on the conference schedule is IU vs. Illinois, so while this preview is designed to cover the whole weekend, it's going to be "What to Watch on Saturday" this particular week. Still, conference play is always going to have something important to watch for, so let's dive right in to Saturday's best.
For the first time this week, none of the games featured here are airing on BTN (though if you'd rather watch Rutgers Minnesota at noon or Michigan-Northwestern at 8:15pm than at least one of the games listed here, I won't begrudge your choice).
1pm: Purdue @ Penn State, ESPNU
Why this game is important: Penn State started the season off on a great run, but that hasn't translated over to conference play yet. They came close to their first win in Assembly Hall, but the Hoosiers held them off for the win. Purdue has been battling their apparent desire to completely underachieve with this team to find themselves sitting at 2-2 in conference, which puts them in the middle tier of conference at the present time. This is either going to end up being a close game, or somebody's getting blown out, and either of those are probably better than watching Rutgers-Minnesota.
What can we learn: Will Purdue be able to take advantage of a rare potential road game victory? Will Penn State show that their non-conference record wasn't a complete fluke? Can the Nittany Lions give us a blueprint for beating the Boilers?
2pm: Ohio State @ Iowa, ESPN
Why this game is important: Remember that middle tier that Purdue is hanging in? One of these teams is also hanging around there, and it's probably not the one you'd think. Iowa, by virtue of not yet having played their 5th conference game, is tied with IU and Michigan State half a game back of Maryland and Wisconsin. Ohio State, having played 5 already, is a further half game back of Iowa. This game may not catapult the winner to a Big Ten title, but the loser of this game may very well be out of the running barring an impressive run.
What can we learn: Can Ohio State still be a contender, or is this just not their year? Is Iowa for real, or just waiting for the right time to collapse? Will the real good Big Ten team please stand up?
4pm: Michigan State @ #14 Maryland, CBS
Why this game is important: Either Michigan State jumps into the tie atop the conference, or Maryland pushes slightly ahead of Wisconsin into first place all by themselves. Probably the biggest game of the weekend, and it's going to be on network TV, so that in and of itself is a rare treat. If you just enjoy watching Big Ten basketball, start clearing out space on your viewing schedule now for this game.
What can we learn: Can Maryland come into the conference and sweep the Spartans? Will Michigan State take revenge for their loss earlier in the season? Is another double overtime thriller in the works?