The main matchup on the docket this week for Ohio State is a showdown with Michigan State up in East Lansing on Tuesday night. The Big Ten currently has three teams in the top-5, and the basketball has been fierce to start conference play so far.
Marquette (9-6, 1-1): LOSS @ Creighton (67-49), WIN v. DePaul (66-56):
Marquette ended 2013 on a low note, dropping their Big East opener on New Year's Eve at Creighton, but quickly rebounded to open up 2014 with a win over DePaul on Saturday. Not much went right on Tuesday night for Marquette, as they never held the lead against Creighton. The Bluejays found the home iron kind, hitting 13 three-pointers, while Marquette was only able to hit two of the 12 that they attempted in the game. After leaving the previous game the Golden Eagles played due to injury, Jamil Wilson returned to put in 10 points in a losing effort.
Saturday's game was a different story for Marquette, with Davante Gardner making the most of his first start since January 2012. Gardner scored 21 of his career-high 28 points in the second half against DePaul, helping to erase the 30-26 edge the Blue Demons had at halftime. It wasn't just Gardner that led Marquette to victory though, it was also their ability to get to the foul line. Marquette hit 23 of 31 free throws in the game, while DePaul only hit two of their four foul shots. Marquette will now hit the road against this week when they head down to Xavier on Thursday before returning home for a tilt with Seton Hall on Saturday.
Maryland (10-5, 2-0): WIN v. N.C. Central (70-56), WIN v. Georgia Tech (77-61):
Having already played their ACC opener earlier in December against Boston College, Maryland still had a non-conference game on their schedule before 2013 ended. The Terrapins made relatively easy work of North Carolina Central, with a 11-2 NCCU run over the last three minutes making the scoreline closer than it really was. Nick Faust put in a career-high 19 points and collected a season-high nine rebounds in the victory. Maryland led 28-20 at half but extended the lead to as many as 23 in the second half before the late run by NCCU.
Faust again paced Maryland in their second game of the week, scoring 16 points as the Terrapins won their seventh straight home game against the Yellow Jackets. Evan Smotrycz added 14 points for Maryland, who much like their game on Tuesday held a comfortable lead throughout most of the contest. The Terrapins spread the wealth, dishing out 16 assists, while only committing six turnovers in the game. This week will provide a couple tests for Maryland in their final season in the ACC, with road games at Pitt on Monday followed by a trip to Florida State on Sunday.
Notre Dame (10-4, 1-0): WIN v. #7 Duke (79-77):
After serving as an assistant on Mike Krzyzewski's staff from 1987-1995, Mike Brey finally got his first win over his former boss on Saturday. Eric Atkins continued to fill Jerian Grant's shoes admirably, registering 19 points and 11 assists in the victory. Seven of Atkins' points came during a 20-4 run in the second half that saw Notre Dame rally from 10 points down with 11 minutes to go. The Fighting Irish were just way too much inside for Duke, outscoring the Blue Devils 44-16 in the paint. Notre Dame was able to do something that no Duke opponent had been able to do so far this season, hold freshman phenom Jabari Parker to under double-figures in scoring. Parker finished the game with only seven points. Next up for Notre Dame in ACC play is North Carolina State in South Bend on Tuesday before taking on Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Saturday.
Purdue (10-5, 0-2): LOSS v. #3 Ohio State (78-69), LOSS @ Minnesota (82-79):
Purdue's conference slate got off to a rough start, dropping a couple close ones in the first two games that they played last week. The Boilermakers only went into the halftime break trailing Ohio State by one, but the Buckeyes just had too much for Purdue. A.J. Hammons had a big game for Purdue in the loss, scoring 18 points, collecting 16 rebounds, and rejecting five shots. After the game went final, Andrew had a full recap of the Buckeye win that ensured Ohio State fans would have a happy end to 2013.
Much like in the game against Butler, the Boilers fell behind by a sizable margin in the second half only to make a furious comeback that fell just short. Purdue trailed 70-54 with 7:10 left in the second half. Kendall Stephens had a wild half court heave that fell short that would have tied the game as time expired had it had gone in. After what A.J. Hammons was able to do against Ohio State, it was a surprise that Purdue didn't look his way more in this one. Hammons only attempted three shots and finished the game with seven points. Terone Johnson led Purdue with 18 points while his brother, Ronnie, added 12 points. The Boilermakers will try and win their first Big Ten game of the season when they host Nebraska on Sunday.
The schedule makers didn't do Nebraska any favors to start their Big Ten schedule, with road games at Iowa and Ohio State the first week. The games went pretty much as were expected, with the Cornhuskers showing a little bit of fight at the end of the Iowa game and the start of the Ohio State game. Terran Petteway continued his strong play with 20 points and 12 rebounds against Iowa, while following that up with 15 points against Ohio State. Against the Hawkeyes, Nebraska took 19 more shots than Iowa, thanks to 17 offensive rebounds, but weren't able to capitalize on that edge, shooting a season-low 29.9% from the field. After hitting seven three-pointers against Iowa last season, Ray Gallegos didn't even register a shot on Tuesday.
If you missed the Nebraska/Ohio State game on Saturday afternoon, Sam recapped the 84-53 Buckeye win. The loss was the 20th straight on the road for the Cornhuskers against a ranked team. The last time that Nebraska was able to earn a road victory over a ranked team was back in February of 2008 when the Cornhuskers downed #22 Texas A&M. Nebraska was as close as 33-30 with just over two minutes left in the first half, but it was all downhill from there. The game ended with Nebraska not making a basket over the final eight minutes. The Cornhuskers will have to shoot better if they have any designs on winning this week when they host Michigan on Thursday before traveling to Purdue on Sunday.
#5 Michigan State (13-1, 2-0): WIN @ Penn State (79-63), WIN @ Indiana (73-56):
After 20 minutes in State College on Tuesday night it was looking as if Michigan State was going to open up Big Ten play and end 2013 with an unexpected loss. Trailing 47-40 at half, Michigan State put the clamps down defensively, holding Penn State to 5-20 shooting in the second half. Branden Dawson was high-scorer for Michigan State with 20 points to go along with nine rebounds. A 45-26 rebounding edge helped Michigan State to eventually pull away from the Nittany Lions and win their Big Ten opener.
Saturday saw Michigan State again on the road, but they didn't have quite as much trouble with the struggling Hoosiers. The Spartans went into halftime in this one ahead 33-24, paced by 17 points from Gary Harris. For the game, Harris finished with 26 points and also grabbed five steals. In both games Michigan State was able to find success from behind the arc, hitting 10 three-pointers in each contest. The Spartans might have a little more difficult hitting from outside against the Buckeyes in the showdown in East Lansing on Tuesday night, but they should get a little extra juice from the crowd in what will be the first conference home game for the Spartans. Tom Izzo's team will also be at home later in the week when they host Minnesota on Saturday.
#22 Iowa (12-3, 1-1): WIN v. Nebraska (67-57), LOSS @ #4 Wisconsin (75-71):
Iowa was able to notch their first win in a Big Ten opener since 2006, with a 10-point win over Nebraska in Iowa City on New Year's Eve. The Hawkeyes led by as many as 20 points, but a run in the second half put a scarce in Iowa fans, with Nebraska closing the gap to within five points before the Hawkeyes put things away. Devyn Marble had 15 points and eight rebounds for the Hawkeyes and Aaron White added 13 points, with 11 of those points coming in the second half. One area that was really sloppy for Iowa was their free throw shooting, only hitting 23 of 39 from the charity stripe. But, Iowa came through when it really mattered, going 7-10 from the line in the last two minutes.
After 20 minutes of play, Iowa looked like they were going to be the team to hand Wisconsin their first loss on the season, heading into the locker room with a 35-24 lead. Then a pair of technicals against Iowa coach Fran McCaffery when Iowa had a 41-39 lead with 12 minutes to play turned into a 44-41 lead after the Wisconsin free throws. Marble was one of two Hawkeyes in double figures, scoring 27 points on 10-24 shooting from the field. The other Hawkeye that hit double digits was Aaron White, who finished the game with 12 points. Sunday night's game should setup an exciting rematch between these two teams when they meet in Iowa City in late February. Before that though, Iowa will host Northwestern on Thursday night before heading to Columbus to play Ohio State on Sunday afternoon.
Minnesota (12-3, 1-1): LOSS v. Michigan (63-60), WIN v. Purdue (82-79):
Minnesota fell on each side of a couple three-point decisions to start up Big Ten play this year. On Thursday night, Minnesota dropped a close 63-60 decision in their first game of 2014. The game was nip and tuck all night long, with Minnesota hold a 30-28 half at the break, but Michigan pulled ahead in the second half and not letting the lead go. Elliott Eliason registered a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Andre Hollins had 12 points. Austin Hollins really struggled though, only hitting one of the nine shots he took from the field in the game. The Golden Gophers held a 38-24 rebounding edge in the game, but their shot just wasn't falling to allow them to win.
Sunday afternoon saw Minnesota on the other side, this time earning the win over Purdue, but they tried their best ot blow it. The Hollins brothers paced the Golden Gophers, with Austin scoring 18 points and grabbing nine boards, while Andre scored 17 points and dished out five assists. Minnesota looked to in firm control, leading 70-54 with just over seven minutes to play, but the Boilermakers actually had a shot at a prayer to tie the game as regulation ended. The Golden Gophers will now try to build off of Richard Pitino's first Big Ten win as Minnesota head coach when they travel to Penn State on Wednesday night before closing the week on Saturday at Michigan State.
Illinois (13-2, 2-0): WIN v. Indiana (83-80 OT), WIN v. Penn State (75-55):
Like it has been most of the season so far, last week was the Rayvonte Rice show for Illinois. In the overtime thriller to open up Big Ten play, Rice scored 29 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead Illinois over Indiana in Champaign. This game was about as close as you could get, with the teams tied at 39 at halftime, and then at 71 to end regulation. Rice missed a couple free throws with Illinois up 78-75 in overtime to keep Indiana in it, but Nnanna Egwu hit two free throws to make it a 80-77 lead before Rice had no thoughts of the earlier missed free throws and put the game away for Illinois with two free throws. Tracy Abrams had 17 points to go along with Rice's hefty scoring total.
Illinois struggled a little bit against Penn State early, only heading into halftime with a 28-26 lead, but came out of the locker room firing after half. The Fighiting Illini built a 12-point lead after their first four offensive possessions of the second half, and were helped out even more with the ejection of D.J. Newbill with under nine minutes left in the second half. Rice against was high-scorer for Illinois with 15 points in a game that saw neither team shoot particularly well from the field. This week Illinois will face quite a tough test when they head into Madison to square off with Wisconsin on Wednesday before they finish out the week in Evanston against Northwestern on Sunday.
Penn State (9-6, 0-2): LOSS v. #5 Michigan State (79-63), LOSS @ Illinois (75-55):
Penn State looked like they were on their way to a wild upset to open up Big Ten play, leading Michigan State 47-40 on Tuesday afternoon. D.J. Newbill hit three three-pointers and scored 14 of his 17 points in the first half, as Penn State led by as many as 12 points in the first 20 minutes. The Nittany Lions went 7-12 from three-point range in the first half but they had nowhere near as much success in the second half, only shooting 2-9 from deep. Brandon Taylor had a team-high 18 points for Penn State.
Saturday's game had to be a frustrating one for Penn State head coach Pat Chambers, with his team shooting under 30% from the field and only registering three assists. D.J. Newbill was ejected with 8:38 left for a push in retaliation to the back of Illinois freshman Kendrick Nunn's head. At the time he was ejected, Newbill only had seven points in the game. In only his third game for Penn State, Pitt transfer John Johnson was a bright spot for Penn State with 18 points. Tim Frazier added 10 points but his week was pretty poor overall, only shooting 6-23 from the field. The good news for Penn State is they'll get their next two games at home, against Minnesota on Wednesday before Indiana visits on Saturday.
#4 Wisconsin (15-0, 2-0): WIN @ Northwestern (76-49), WIN v. #22 Iowa (75-71):
With two wins last week, Wisconsin matched their best start in school history, when they started off the 1913-14 season at 15-0 as well. The first game that Wisconsin played against Northwestern was a cakewalk, with the Badgers heading into halftime with a 40-14 lead. Freshman Nigel Hayes had a career-high 19 points in the game, and was actually outscoring Northwestern 13-12 with 1:30 left in the first half. The Badgers were scorching the nets in Evanston on Thursday night, hitting 55% from the field.
Sunday night's game saw a lot more of a challenge for Wisconsin, but they used a second half push to tie that school record for best start to a season. The Badgers trailed 35-24 at halftime, but the Fran McCaffery ejection gave them a free five points from the foul line which gave them a 44-41 lead. Ben Brust scored 19 points in the second half to lead Wisconsin to the victory, while Josh Gasser added 14 points. Wisconsin led the rest of the way after the technicals, holding off a couple charges from Iowa. Bo Ryan's team will try and stay perfect on the season, hosting Illinois on Wednesday night in their only game of the week.
Michigan (10-4, 2-0): WIN @ Minnesota (63-60), WIN v. Northwestern (74-51):
Just as Michigan was trying to adjust to the news that Mitch McGary was going to be out for an extended amount of time, another loss looked to be on the radar when Glenn Robinson III left the Minnesota game with a leg injury. The Wolverines got contributions from Zak Irvin with 15 points on five three-pointers, and Jon Horford had a couple big baskets in the last five minutes on his way to 14 points and nine rebounds. The Horford buckets gave Michigan just enough cushion to help the Wolverines sneak out of Williams Arena with a win.
Luckily for Michigan fans the Glenn Robinson III injury wasn't that serious since he was back in the lineup on Sunday against Northwestern. Robinson looked to show no ill-effects in the game, playing 31 minutes and putting in 12 points. Nik Stauskas was the leading scorer for Michigan with 18 points. The Wolverines shot over 50% in the game, and showcased an offensive attack that Northwestern was just not equipped to hang with. The Wolverines seem to be handling the McGary loss in stride, with Horford and Jordan Morgan combining for 15 points and 16 rebounds against the Wildcats. Michigan will only play one game this week, but they'll have to travel out to Lincoln on Thursday to play Nebraska.
Northwestern (7-8, 0-2): LOSS v. #4 Wisconsin (76-49), LOSS @ Michigan (71-54):
Northwestern didn't do anything last week to make anybody think that they wouldn't be mired in the Big Ten basement this season. The Wildcats were blown out against Wisconsin, heading into half down 40-14. The only bright spot in the game for Northwestern was the career-high 23 points that Alex Olah gave the Wildcats. The only other Northwestern player that made it to double figures was leading scorer Drew Crawford, who put in 10 points. This was the seventh consecutive loss that Northwestern suffered at the hands of Wisconsin.
Against Michigan, Northwestern was in it for a little bit longer, only trailing by seven points at half. But Northwestern didn't have the horses to keep up with the Wolverines, losing their sixth straight game to Michigan. Drew Crawford scored 17 points in the game, but only four of them came after the halftime break. This game shaped up much like the two these teams played last year, with Michigan winning those by a combined 50 points. Northwestern struggled in both games they played last week, hitting less than 40% from the field in both contests. With games at Iowa on Thursday and at home against Illinois on Sunday, it looks like it might get worse before it gets better for the Wildcats.
Indiana (10-5, 0-2): LOSS @ Illinois (83-80 OT), LOSS v. #5 Michigan State (73-56):
After losing most of their core from last year, Indiana has struggled in their opening to Big Ten play this year. Illinois beat Indiana last year in Champaign, and were able to make it two in a row against the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall. Yogi Farrell can't be blamed for the overtime lost, as he had a game-high 30 points in 43 minutes on the floor. Indiana's biggest problem has been with turnovers so far this year. In the loss to Illinois, the Hoosiers committed 23 turnovers. Had Indiana been able to keep hold of the basketball a little better, they may have won their conference opener, as they were able to outrebound Illinois 43-31.
The game on Saturday against Michigan State wasn't quite the nail-biter that the Illinois game was, but that's just because Gary Harris was scoring early and often for the Spartans. The Hoosiers trailed 33-24 at the half, and yet again had issues with turnovers. Indiana turned the ball over 15 times and were hampered with only shooting 40% from the field. Yogi Ferrell again led Indiana, this time with 17 points, while Will Sheehey added 13 points. The Hoosiers will try and hit the Big Ten win column on Saturday when they travel to Penn State.