Around the Big Ten: Week 5
Matt Freiler, David Hadar, Hunter Pitcoff and Jeremy Ganes break down this week's action in Big Ten basketball:
Big Ten conference play has begun earlier than any other conference this year, corresponding with the league moving up their postseason tournament a week earlier. Each team will now resume their non-conference slate after playing two Big Ten games last weekend and early this week.
No. 3 Michigan State, No. 21 Purdue, and Ohio State were the only teams to win both games, while eight teams split their opening slate. Illinois, Rutgers, and Iowa are the only teams in the conference that will head into the bulk of conference play still looking for a win.
Tom Izzo looks like the only coach in the Big Ten that has his team playing at a national championship level. Their schedule already includes wins over No. 5 Notre Dame and No. 9 North Carolina, with their only loss to No. 1 Duke.
They easily dispatched of both Nebraska and Rutgers and will host Southern Utah on Saturday. There are no losses in sight for this Spartans team until at least 2018 when Big Ten play starts back up.
No. 14 Minnesota will find themselves falling in the rankings next week after an upset loss on the road to Nebraska. While Richard Pitino’s team started 7-0, they have now lost two of their last three. They should be able to get back on track against Arkansas on Saturday and Drake on Monday.
No. 21 Purdue has responded well to two straight losses with four straight wins. They followed up wins over No. 2 Arizona and No. 17 Louisville with wins on the road against Maryland and at home against Northwestern. They will take on Valparaiso at home on Thursday, one of only nine undefeated teams in the country.
Tied atop the standings is Ohio State, who is 7-3 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten after blowing out Wisconsin 83-58, and knocking off archrival Michigan on Monday, 71-62. They have five games left in their non-conference slate with the highlight being a home matchup against No. 11 North Carolina on Dec. 23.
Packed in the middle of the wildly mediocre Big Ten is Nebraska, who had probably the hardest opening weekend with games against aforementioned No. 3 Michigan State and No. 14 Minnesota. They head back into their non-conference slate against Creighton on Saturday before a big home tilt against No. 2 Kansas on Dec. 16.
Joining the Cornhuskers in the middle of the pack are Maryland (7-3, 1-1 B1G), Michigan (7-3, 1-1 B1G), Penn State (7-3, 1-1 B1G), Indiana (5-4, 1-1 B1G), Northwestern (5-4, 1-1 B1G), and Wisconsin (4-6, 1-1 B1G). To sum up, the conference consists of a bunch of teams that are good but not great.
And then at the bottom, Illinois (7-3, 0-2 B1G) beat Austin Peay on Wednesday after three straight losses. Rutgers (6-3, 0-2 B1G) has also lost three straight games, to Florida State and then to two ranked teams Minnesota and Michigan State. Iowa (4-5, 0-2 B1G) rounds out the bottom of the conference with three straight losses to Virginia Tech, Penn State, and Indiana.
Zach Kaplan is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism with a double minor in Spanish and history. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Hunter Pitcoff is a sophomore who is a member of the sports staff in CommRadio. Hunter’s experience thus far includes writing articles, hosting podcasts, Play-by-Play, beat writing, and producing. He also hosts the college basketball show The Shootaround. Besides his involvement in CommRadio, Hunter is an analyst, host, and editor for the PSNTv show, “Penn State Sports Night”. In terms of internship, Hunter is currently covering Big 12 Basketball for the website NBADraft.net. When Hunter graduates, his ultimate goal would be to have his own television and/or radio show.