COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has been through this all before.
Big weekend in the Big Ten. Big game against a big opponent.
On and on.
So, you can understand that he was cool and composed when asked about Saturday's conference clash in Columbus. It's the No. 11 Spartans against No. 3 Ohio State, and all that goes with it in February.
"We've got a lot of work to do, but this is a fun time," Izzo said. "This is a big game and we've put ourselves in a position to have a big game."
Even though the Buckeyes (21-3, 9-2 Big Ten) will still have two-thirds of the conference schedule left after the game, coach Thad Matta knows a head-to-head matchup with the closest pursuer is important because of the balance throughout the league.
"From top to bottom, in the years I've been in the Big Ten, this is probably as good as it's been," he said. "Sometimes there's a cut above, (but) the parity this year is just incredible."
The Spartans (18-5, 7-3) and Buckeyes can attest to that as they had to overcome struggles against lower teams this week leading to the showdown.
Purdue on Tuesday became only the third opponent during the Buckeyes' 39-game home winning streak to lead in the second half. The Boilermakers pulled into a tie with five minutes left, before losing 87-84.
The next night, last-place Penn State trailed 52-47 with nine minutes remaining before Michigan State pulled away from the visitors for a 77-57 victory.
Afterward, Penn State coach Patrick Chambers, whose Nittany Lions lost by 24 at Ohio State on Jan. 25, spoke about the power of this Saturday showdown ... and he's not even a part of it.
"It's going to be a great game," he said. "Two different styles. It's going to come down to the wire."
Purdue coach Matt Painter, perhaps trying to set a tone, thinks the officials may have a say in it.
"They're both tough teams and physical," he said. "It depends on how it gets called. I think that'll be really important how the game is called."
If it's a typical, Big Ten game, there will be a lot of physical play. Matta said it's crucial for his players to gauge the officiating early.
The Buckeyes rank 30th nationally with an average of 15.8 fouls called on them while Michigan State is 123rd (18.2).