Around the Big Ten Basketball: Week 2
David Hadar, Hunter Pitkoff and Matt Freiler break down all the action coming up this week on the hardwood in the Big Ten.
The start of the college basketball season has seen teams across the Big Ten get off to great starts as every team except for Indiana won their opening game. The next couple of games will provide a challenge for the conference’s top teams as the nonconference slate starts to get tougher.
The second ranked Michigan State Spartans are coming off a dominant performance against North Florida where they were plus 23 on the glass and shot 57.4 percent from the floor. Preseason player of the year Miles Bridges went for 20 points and 10 rebounds as well as three blocks.
Freshman Jaren Jackson imposed his will in the paint as he put up a double-double as well with 13 points and 13 rebounds with four blocked shots. The perimeter shooting for Michigan State is a problem as it only connected on 25 percent of shots from behind the arc, but the Spartans are talented enough to overcome its shooting woes in the next couple of games.
Cassius Winston’s ability to run the offense will dictate the Spartans’ success this season. His eight assists to only two turnovers kept the Michigan State offense running smoothly, so his assertiveness with the ball will help the Spartans this week.
Minnesota checks into the AP poll at number 14 and have looked all of that ranking with two impressive performances against South Carolina Upstate and Providence. Forward Jordan Murphy actually leads the conference in scoring with 29 points per game and has pulled down 29 rebounds in two games so far.
Nate Mason has not been terrific shooting the ball as he is only 33.3 percent from the floor, but the Golden Gophers have games this week against Western Carolina and Niagara, meaning his shooting numbers will be on the rise.
While Purdue is not the best team in the Big Ten this season, it can definitely claim to be the most impressive over the opening weekend. Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and Chicago State are not the best teams in college basketball, but the Boilermakers have scored at least 105 points in each game with six different players averaging double figures.
Sophomore guard Carsen Edwards has taken over the scoring reigns as his 20.5 points per game paces the team, while Dakota Mathias is tearing up the nets from behind the arc as he has made six out of his first seven threes. Purdue’s upcoming game against Marquette is the first real nonconference test as the Golden Eagles looked strong in their season opening win against Mount St. Mary’s.
Northwestern started off the season in a new territory as it opened the season in the AP Top 25 for the first time in school history. The start of the season show signs of a team not yet used to being ranked that high as the Wildcats hung on to beat Loyola Maryland in the season opener by four points and played uneven in a nine point win against lowly St. Peters.
Creighton and La Salle are up next for Northwestern, meaning head coach Chris Collins needs Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey to improve their play as the level of nonconference competition escalates.
The Big Ten’s top four teams all started the season with wins, but each one of them has an area in need of rapid improvement in order to find success later in the season.
Joseph Esquivel-Murphy is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.