Around the Big Ten: Men’s Basketball
David Hadar, Jeremy Ganes and Jamal Ellerbe discuss the current landscape of the Big Ten as conference play starts after the holiday break:
We are one week through 2019 with college basketball conference play now in full swing. The Big Ten includes four ranked teams in the latest AP Top 25 poll with several more conferences clashes to ensue this week.
The No. 2 Michigan Wolverines are off to one of their hottest starts in program at 15-0 and have an opportunity to have their best start in school history with a win at Illinois on Thursday night.
The Wolverines come off a big win at home over Indiana last week in a game that four Wolverines eclipse double figures. Charles Matthews and Jordan Poole led the way with 18 points followed by a solid 12-point complementary effort from Zach Simpson.
No. 6 Michigan State currently sits half a game above Michigan for the top spot in conference at 5-0. After a nail-biter loss at Louisville, the Spartans have rattled off nine consecutive victories, including a huge win on the road over No. 16 Ohio State last week.
The Spartans have been led by the three-headed monster of Cassius Winston, Nick Ward and Joshua Langford, who each average at least 15 points per game. Winston is also the fourth leading assist man in the nation so far this season. Michigan State will take on Penn State in Happy Valley this coming Sunday.
The Maryland Terrapins currently hold the third slot in the Big Ten standings, but are unranked despite a strong 13-3 record. The Terps will have an opportunity to make a statement Friday night though when they take on No. 22 Indiana in College Park. Maryland will then host Wisconsin next Monday.
Indiana dropped its first conference game of the season last week at Michigan, but still is very much a contender for the conference crown. With the dynamic one-two punch of Romeo Langford and Juwan Morgan, the Hoosiers have the firepower to compete with anyone in the conference. Indiana will have another big road test Friday night at Maryland before returning home on Monday to host Nebraska.
Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Badgers snapped a two-game losing streak after dominating Penn State 71-52 last Sunday. Ethan Happ had another strong outing with 22 points and eight rebounds. Happ has been one of the best big men in the country for the last three years, but in his final season in Madison, he is averaging a career-best 19.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.
Ohio State is the third-highest ranked team in the conference at No. 16, but the Buckeyes are currently in sixth place in the Big Ten standings. However, Ohio State’s presence in the middle of the pack is largely due to having played only three conference games so far.
Ohio State comes off a loss to Michigan State at home, but will have a chance to bounce back with road contests against Rutgers on Thursday night and Iowa on Sunday. Kaleb Wesson has taken a big step forward in his sophomore season, averaging 17.1 points per game.
Minnesota and Purdue both rest at 2-2 in the conference and will be looking to get over the .500 hump this week. The Golden Gophers will host Rutgers on Sunday while Iowa heads to Madison for a road clash with Wisconsin Saturday night.
Iowa, Northwestern and Nebraska are 1-3 in the Big ten, while Rutgers, Penn State and Illinois round out the conference standings and are still each seeking its first wins in Big Ten play.
Will Desautelle is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.