Around the Big Ten: College Basketball
There has been no shortage of great games and massive upsets around college basketball this season, and it’s still a common theme as we rapidly approach March.
The difference in the number of instant classics we’ve seen this season is that there really is no dominant, elite team in college basketball this year — it’s still very much up in the air.
That is enough to rile someone up for the NCAA Tournament because this year just feels different.
There is, however, an elite player — Zach Edey.
The Purdue big man is the best player in the country by far, contributing to much of the Boilermakers' success this season, and will definitely be a huge factor in the tournament.
At 7-foot-4 and 305 lbs, Edey leads all of the Big Ten in scoring, rattling off 22.1 points per game while also grabbing 12.7 rebounds per game, also first in the Big Ten.
After a 26-point performance in a 27-point blowout victory against Ohio State last Sunday, Edey will look to continue his dominance as the No. 5 Boilermakers host No. 17 Indiana this Saturday night.
It’s the season's final stretch, and the Hoosiers have solidified their position as a tournament team with the help of Trayce Jackson-Davis.
Jackson-Davis trails Edey in both points and rebounds per game in the conference, making this matchup Saturday a little more intriguing.
Meanwhile, Jalen Pickett is doing all he can to lead the Nittany Lions to the big dance.
As the most recent ESPN Player of the Week, Pickett has rightfully put his name in the conversation as one of the most underrated players in the Big Ten.
He leads all of the conference in assists per game with 7 and is fourth in scoring with 18.6 points per game.
Last week in the Bryce Jordan Center, Pickett went haywire in a masterful 41-point performance against Illinois and followed it up with 32 in a huge road victory against Minnesota on Saturday.
The final four games for the Nittany Lions are tough beyond question, and if Penn State has any chance to make it to the NCAA Tournament, it will all be in the hands of Pickett and the other members of Micah Shrewsberry’s experienced squad.
A potential run starts Thursday night for Penn State, heading into Columbus to face an Ohio State team who fell well below the expectations this season for head coach Chris Holtmann.
At 11-16, the Buckeyes were ranked to start 2023, but have dropped their last 8 games with the last win coming over a month ago.
Northwestern has finally gotten a well-deserved spot in the top-25, knocking off then-No. 1 Purdue and a ranked Indiana in back-to-back games last week.
The Wildcats followed that up with a 20-point blowout victory over Iowa, a team still grasping onto its tournament hopes.
6-foot-2 senior Boo Buie has been a silent subject, grabbing 17 points per game for the Wildcats en route to the No. 21 spot in this week’s AP Top 25.
There are currently three Big Ten teams in the top-25, but Maryland, Illinois, Rutgers, and Michigan State are all knocking at the door.
Although the Big Ten has built a reputation for early exits in the big dance, there are multiple teams that could shake up brackets and make a run — most notably, Rutgers.
The Scarlet Knights are a well-rounded team that have been waiting for their moment, with a lockdown defense that gives up 59.9 points per game.
It’ll be interesting to see how these next three weeks pan out for Big Ten squads eagerly wanting their name called on Selection Sunday, but this final stretch will be pivotal as the clock is ticking with little margin for error.
Connor Fenix is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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