A look at the upcoming week around Big Ten basketball:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 9 Iowa at No. 4 Ohio State on Sunday. The Hawkeyes took a four-game winning streak into this week, a welcomed measure of momentum for what will be as tough a pair of matchups as there is this season in this daunting conference. After playing Thursday at No. 3 Michigan, Iowa will stay on the road to face the Buckeyes, who had won seven straight games until losing 92-87 in their heavyweight fight with the Wolverines last Sunday. Ohio State won the first meeting 89-85 on Feb. 4, a few hours after its team bus got stuck on a snowy road in Iowa City. The Buckeyes went 14 for 32 from 3-point range in that game and held Hawkeyes star and national scoring leader Luka Garza nearly 10 points under his average. Ohio State precedes the Iowa game with a Thursday visit to Michigan State.
LOOKING AHEAD: Michigan, Ohio State, Illinois and Iowa each remain firmly in the mix for No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, all ranked in the top 10 of the current Associated Press poll. After having their seven-game winning streak snapped Tuesday at Michigan State, the Illini get a breather Thursday against last-place Nebraska before a savage slate: at No. 23 Wisconsin on Sunday, at Michigan on Tuesday and at Ohio State on March 6. Further down the standings, Indiana and Minnesota need to get in gear to keep their bubbles from bursting. The next three games for the Gophers, conveniently, are against the bottom three teams in the league: Thursday against Northwestern, Saturday at Nebraska and Wednesday at Penn State. The Hoosiers, on the other hand, host Michigan on Saturday, visit Michigan State on Tuesday and play at Purdue on March 6.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Purdue center Trevion Williams. Overshadowed a bit by the league’s star power in the post – highlighted by Garza, Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson and Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn – Williams, the 6-foot-10 junior, has been the bulwark of a Boilermakers team that starts three freshmen. Williams has five 20-point, 10-rebound games this season and three 20-point games this month. He’s seventh in the Big Ten in scoring, third in rebounding and fifth in shooting for Purdue, which plays Friday at Penn State and hosts Wisconsin on Tuesday.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Garza became Iowa’s all-time leading scorer Sunday with 2,118 points in 119 career games, passing Roy Marble (1986-89, 134 games). … Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu became the first player in program history with two triple-doubles in the same season with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists last Saturday at Minnesota. According to school research, Dosunmu is one of five major conference players to record multiple triple-doubles in the same season since 2010. The others were Ethan Happ (Wisconsin), Dennis Smith (North Carolina State), Denzel Valentine (Michigan State) and Draymond Green (Michigan State). … Ohio State had won six straight games against top-10 opponents until losing to Michigan last Sunday.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: No. 8 Maryland has a half-game lead over No. 11 Indiana for first place, coming off a 111-93 win Tuesday against Iowa when Katie Benzan broke her own program record with nine 3-pointers. The Terrapins, who lead the nation with an average of 92.4 points per game, play Thursday at Purdue and Sunday at Northwestern. … The Hoosiers, who have won six straight games for their highest AP ranking in school history, play Saturday at No. 15 Ohio State. Maryland won the only meeting with Indiana this season 84-80 on Jan. 4. … Iowa’s Caitlin Clark has 11 freshman of the week awards and four player of the week awards, the most combined by a Big Ten player in one season. She has eight 30-point games, believed to be a conference record for a freshman.
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