Men’s Basketball Around the Big Ten: Week Four
Tom Shively, David Arroyo and Brad Hayes break down the week four matchups around the Big Ten.
The annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge has come to a close, and it appears the ACC is once again the top conference in college basketball. The ACC won nine of the 14 games, securing its first win in the event since 2008. It’s now time to look at where each Big Ten team stands moving forward into December.
*in alphabetical order
Illinois (5-3): An 88-74 victory over North Carolina State ended a three-game skid for the Illini. Malcolm Hill put up 22 points and is now in the top 10 in the conference in both scoring and rebounding. VCU and IUPUI await the Illini next week.
No. 13 Indiana (5-1): The Big Ten may have lost the challenge, but the Hoosiers nabbed a signature 76-67 victory over No. 3 North Carolina. Teams ranked in the AP top three have lost five consecutive games in Assembly Hall. Indiana has now beaten two of college basketball’s bluebloods this season, taking down No. 4 Kansas earlier in the season.
Iowa (3-4): The Hawkeyes are struggling, having lost four of their last five games including a 92-78 defeat at Notre Dame. Peter Jok has been the lone bright spot on this team, leading the conference is scoring at 23.9 points per game. Iowa draws Omaha and Stetson this week in an effort to right the ship.
Maryland (7-1): The Terps suffered their first loss of the season to Pitt on Tuesday, but they still lead the conference in wins. Freshman Justin Jackson has done a nice job replacing NBA-bound Diamond Stone in the frontcourt, averaging 11.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Maryland hosts Oklahoma State this weekend.
Michigan (5-2): John Beilein’s team let one slip away, blowing a double-digit lead in the second half to lose 73-70 to Virginia Tech at home. They have the opportunity for a tune-up game against Kennesaw State before dates with Texas and UCLA.
Michigan State (4-4): The schedule has not been kind to the Spartans, who have already been to Hawaii and the Bahamas in the first month of the season. They drew No. 6 Duke on the road in the challenge and lost a competitive game, 78-69. All four of their losses are to top 25 teams, however, and it is likely that all the traveling and competitive games will help this young team grow.
Minnesota (6-1): The Gophers went on the road for the first time this season and came home with a 75-67 loss to No. 25 Florida State on their minds. Nate Mason is doing his best to get the younger guys on this team involved, averaging 5.1 assists per game, good for second in the Big Ten. Vanderbilt and NJIT are up next on the schedule.
Nebraska (4-3): The Huskers battled Clemson back and forth for 40 minutes on the road but weren’t able to finish the job, losing 60-58. Those are the types of games this team needs to find a way to win if they want to be competitive in the Big Ten. They will likely be sitting at 5-4 this time next week as they host South Dakota and No. 10 Creighton in the coming days.
Northwestern (5-2): A 65-58 win over Wake Forest is a step in the right direction for a team finally emerging from the dreaded rebuilding phase. Interestingly, the Wildcats are 0-2 against the state of Indiana, but 5-0 against the other 49 states. That’s a trend they hope continues throughout the weekend as they host DePaul on Saturday for Windy City bragging rights.
Ohio State (6-1): Much like rival Michigan, the Buckeyes were not able to close out a game in which they had a double-digit halftime lead against a Virginia school. The difference: Ohio State was on the road at No. 6 UVA and had a chance to win the game with a long three in the final seconds. There’s no shame in losing that kind of game, and the Buckeyes can certainly take a lot of positives into their matchup with Fairleigh Dickinson.
Penn State (5-3): The Nittany Lions handled Georgia Tech, 67-60, and have now won three straight. All five starters have scored 20 at least once this season, and the Lions are looking at a potential 7-3 record heading into a showdown against Pitt next weekend. Penn State hosts Wright State and George Mason this week.
No. 15 Purdue (5-2): A disappointing 71-64 loss at No. 14 Louisville will put a damper on what has so far been a successful season for the Boilermakers. Their only two losses have come to teams who have won the national title in the last five years. Caleb Swanigan is an early frontrunner for Big Ten Player of the Year, leading the conference in rebounding and three-point percentage. The Boilermakers host Morehead State and travel to Madison Square Garden to play Arizona State this week.
Rutgers (6-1): Undefeated no more, the Scarlet Knights must regroup after a 73-61 loss at Miami. This team is much more balanced than it has been in years past as four players currently are averaging double figures in scoring. This week, the Scarlet Knights host Morgan State and Central Connecticut State.
No. 17 Wisconsin (6-2): The Badgers picked up their first top 25 win of the season Tuesday, thrashing No. 22 Syracuse, 77-60. Nigel Hayes came within one point of a triple-double in that game, helping Bronson Koenig and Ethan Happ have big scoring nights. The Badgers host Oklahoma on Saturday.
Tom Shively is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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