Around the Big Ten: 1/13-1/19
With Wisconsinʼs loss to Indiana on Tuesday, there are no longer any undefeated teams in the Big Ten Conference, heading into this weekʼs slate of games. However, there are still four Big Ten teams ranked among the top 13 in the nation, according to the latest NCAA Ratings Percentage Index.
Winning games on the road will be key for the rest of the season considering 10 of the 12 teams combine for a 5-15 conference road record.
No. 5 Michigan (12-4, 4-0) @ No. 3 Wisconsin (16-1, 3-1) – January 18, 5 p.m.
The Wisconsin Badgers are eager to bounce back from their tough 75-72 loss to Indiana, as they prepare to face Michigan this week. The problem with this game lies heavily on Wisconsinʼs defense, which gave up 52 points in the paint to the Hoosiers. That stat comes as a shock, considering defensive improvements following a rough start to the season.
Just one game ahead of the Badgers and only a half game behind for the conference lead, Michiganʼs 11-game loosing streak at the Kohl Center could potentially end. This is the Wolverines first 4-0 start in the Big Ten since 2003, even after losing two star guards to the NBA and sophomore forward, Mitch McGary, to back surgery that ended his 2014 season.
Penn State (9-9, 0-5) at Purdue (12-5, 2-2) – January 18, 6 p.m.
Purdue just played what many have said was their best game of the season, defeating Illinois 66-58 on Wednesday. Two great performances from centers A.J. Hammons and Jay Simpson lifted the team to the important victory. Hammons notched 17 points and a game-high eight rebounds. The Boilermakers will look to continue their dominance in the paint after scoring 30 points in the lane against the Illini.
Penn State is eager for their first conferences win of the season, after dropping the last five games, most recently to Michigan. The Nittany Lions corrected the issue of turnovers during the second half against the Wolverines, and began to make a comeback before their defeat. D.J. Newbill has been struggling, but has still been able to average 17 points, along with Tim Frazier.
No. 4 Michigan State (16-1, 5-0) at Illinois (13-5, 2-3) – January 18, 7 p.m.
Michigan State was able to pull out their ninth straight win against Northwestern, despite poor outside shooting. The Spartans were 2 of 16 on three-pointers,
including six airballs. Forward Adreian Payne will be out for his third straight game with a sprained right foot.
The Illini lead the Big Ten in offensive rebounding, but were topped by Purdue on Wednesday. Although it is unlikely that Illinois will be in contention for a Big Ten title, they are competing for a second consecutive NCAA tournament berth under head coach John Groce.
Minnesota (13-4, 2-2) at Iowa (14-3, 3-1) – January 19, 12 p.m.
Minnesota has been deemed a completely different team than last year, by Iowaʼs head coach Fran McCaffery. McCaffery believes it is likely that they will be playing more zone, chain defense, trap more and shoot more threes. Four Gophers, Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins, DeAndre Mathieu, and Malik Smith, are averaging double figures with first-year head coach Richard Pitino. Minnesota is leading the league in both steals and free throw percentage.
Iowa is coming off a huge win on the road against No. 3 Ohio State. The win positioned the Hawkeyes in a good spot for Big Ten contention, while proving they can close out a game on the road.
Nicole Barros is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.