Men’s Basketball Around the Big Ten: Week Five

Audio/Story posted December 8, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Sports Staff

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Tom Shively, Will Desautelle, Dylan Huberman and Brian McLaughlin break down the upcoming matchups around the Big Ten. 

It’s been a soft week on the schedule as teams try to pad their win total heading into the final stretch of non-conference play. The Big Ten has three teams in the current AP top 25 and is looking to re-establish itself as a premier conference in college basketball. Here is a look at each team and how they are playing at the moment.

*in alphabetical order

Illinois (7-3): The Illini picked up a résumé-building win in Miami against VCU last weekend and followed it up with a win over IUPUI. Malcolm Hill continues to produce, as he is second in the conference at 19.8 points per game. A visit from Central Michigan this weekend is the only game on the schedule for the Illini this week.

No. 9 Indiana (7-1): A couple of blowouts have the Hoosiers sitting pretty in the top 10. The duo of James Blackmon Jr. and O.G. Anunoby seems to be one of the most lethal in the Big Ten for a team already holding wins over Kansas and North Carolina.

Iowa (4-5): Depth seems to have finally caught up to the Hawkeyes, as they are the only team in the Big Ten currently under .500. Don’t blame Peter Jok, his 23.9 points per game lead the conference.

Maryland (9-1): How much weight do you put on a 9-1 record? Not much if you’re the Terps, whose best win came over Oklahoma State by one point. We’ll likely have to wait another week to see how good this team is as they face relative unknowns Saint Peter’s and Jacksonville State.

Michigan (7-2): A late putback by Moe Wagner helped the Wolverines edge Texas on Tuesday in a game they absolutely needed to win if they want to make a run at the NCAA Tournament. Good luck this weekend at No. 2 UCLA.

Michigan State (6-4): The Spartans finally have time to find their groove after a brutal early schedule got the best of them. Miles Bridges continues his solid play and is in the top 10 in the conference in scoring and rebounding. Tom Izzo’s team hosts Tennessee Tech and Northeastern this week.

Minnesota (8-1): Still only one blemish for the Gophers, but they needed all 40 minutes to come back in the second half to beat NJIT at home. Much like Maryland, we’ll need to wait until conference play to see how good this team really is.

Nebraska (5-4): Four losses in five games has led to a slide to the bottom of the conference for the boys in Lincoln. Most recently, the Huskers were punched in the mouth by No. 10 Creighton at home, falling 77-62. Things don’t get any easier as they face No. 3 Kansas on Saturday.

Northwestern (6-2): The difference this year for the Wildcats has been the deep ball as they are second in the conference from beyond the arc, shooting at a 40.8 percent clip. Vic Law and Nathan Taphorn are both in the top five in the conference in that category, each shooting well over 50 percent.

Ohio State (7-2): The shocker of the week came in Columbus as Florida Atlantic stunned the Buckeyes, 79-77, on a jumper with one second remaining. Opportunities to rebound remain on the schedule as they take on Connecticut and UCLA in their next two games.

Penn State (6-4): The Big Ten football championship trophy was in attendance Wednesday night, and it saw the Lions get blown out by George Mason in their worst performance of the season. A showdown with Pitt this weekend in Newark looms.

No. 18 Purdue (7-2): The Boilermakers continue to dominate lesser opponents, while Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas appear to be one of the best frontcourt duos in the country. The next test for this team comes against No. 23 Notre Dame on Dec. 17.

Rutgers (8-1): It’s been a historic season so far as the Scarlet Knights are off to their best non-conference start since before any of their current players were born. Head coach Steve Pikiell also picked up his 200th career win in the victory over Central Connecticut State earlier this week.

No. 17 Wisconsin (8-2): The most experienced team in the Big Ten continues to produce. The three-headed monster of Bronson Koenig, Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ will keep the Badgers in any game they play while they continue to get production from role players. They visit in-state rival Marquette this weekend.

 

Tom Shively is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email shivelyt97@gmail.com.