Big Ten hoop match-ups this week.
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 14 Ohio State. The Spartans (12-2, 3-0) have won seven in a row after beating Northwestern on Wednesday night. Coach Tom Izzo has a veteran club and team leader Cassius Winston is playing his best ball. Joshua Langford missed the Northwestern game with an ankle injury, and his status for Saturday wasn’t known. This is a measuring-stick game for the Buckeyes (12-1, 2-0), who were picked eighth in the preseason media poll and have only been stressed in one game the last month. Two of the top big men in the league square off in the Spartans’ Nick Ward and OSU’s Kaleb Wesson.
LOOKING AHEAD: No. 24 Nebraska has been in and out of the AP Top 25 after finishing fourth in the Big Ten and not getting picked for the NCAA Tournament. The Huskers (11-3, 1-2) believe they haven’t gotten the respect they deserve this season, but their historic lack of sustained success has voters in wait-and-see mode. A road loss to a young Maryland team on Wednesday night didn’t help their cause, and two of the next three are on the road.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Catch Romeo Langford while you can. He projects to be a one-and-done at Indiana. Langford is averaging a team-best 17.5 points per game — tops in the Big Ten among freshmen — as the Hoosiers begin an extremely challenging January schedule. His 62-percent shooting on 2-pointers ranks second among Big Ten guards. Watch out when he starts shooting 3s better than his current 21-percent clip.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: No. 2 Michigan (13-0, 2-0) has won 27 of its last 28, with the loss being the 2018 national championship game against Villanova. Of the 27 wins, 19 have been by 10 points or more. … Purdue’s Carsen Edwards is averaging 30.3 points and 2.8 assists while hitting 18 of 41 3-pointers over the last four games. … Iowa’s Tyler Cook has scored 15 or more points in each of his last seven outings. Cook is the third player in the nine-year Fran McCaffery era to total 15-plus points and 5-plus rebounds in seven straight games. … Minnesota’s Daniel Oturu has three straight double-doubles heading into Thursday’s game against Wisconsin.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: Iowa’s Megan Gustafson is off to another sizzling start. The senior forward is shooting 72.9 percent from the floor and her scoring average of 26.8 points leads the Big Ten. Last year, Gustafson shot 67.1 percent and averaged 25.7 points per game, both conference highs. … No. 4 Maryland (12-1, 1-1) will try to bounce back from its first loss (73-65 to Rutgers at home Monday) when it hosts Ohio State (4-7, 0-2) on Saturday. … In beating the Terrapins, Rutgers (9-3, 2-0) knocked off its highest-ranked opponent since 2009. … Indiana (13-1, 2-0), with three starters back from its WNIT title team, is out to its best start since opening 14-0 in 2013-14. The Hoosiers went 31 for 37 on free throws in their 83-75 win over Penn State on Monday. … Nebraska (7-6, 2-0) lost its first five road games before winning at Ohio State on Monday. The Cornhuskers visit No. 19 Iowa on Thursday looking for its first 3-0 league start since 2011-12.
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