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Big Ten CommunicationsPublished: 12/19/2023, Last updated: 3/15/2024
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Big Ten Weekly Men's Basketball Central - Dec. 19-25

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  • Following Saturday’s Rutgers/Mississippi State game, Big Ten teams will take a hiatus for the Christmas holiday. The games will resume on Thursday, Dec. 28, with Maryland hosting Coppin State. Nine teams will see action on Dec. 29, with Dec. 30 marking the final day of nonconference contests. There will be no games on Dec. 31-Jan. 1, with conference play set to resume on Tuesday, Jan. 2.

  • Three Big Ten teams were included in both the AP and USA Today Coaches Polls this week. Purdue returned to the No. 1 spot in both polls, while Illinois moved up to No. 13 and 11, respectively, with Wisconsin sitting at No. 24 in both rankings. Michigan State and Ohio State received votes in both polls, while Northwestern earned mention in the media poll and Nebraska in the coaches poll.

  • With 12 conference games in the books, the Big Ten has returned to nonconference action through the end of the 2023 calendar year. Four teams, Indiana, Northwestern, Illinois, and Wisconsin are a combined 5-0 on the young season, while Iowa and Michigan State both stand at 0-2. The league’s final nonconference contests are scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 30, with a return to Big Ten action slated for Tuesday, Jan. 2.

  • After going 12-3 last week, the Big Ten improved to 91-34 in nonconference action. Its 91 wins ranked fifth most among all conferences behind the Big 12 (115-29), Atlantic 10 (106-53), SEC (103-43), and ACC (98-41). However, its .728-win percentage lists behind only the Big 12 (.797). Among the league’s 91 victories were nine wins over AP Top 25 opponents, most of any conference. 

  • The Big Ten went 12-3 in nonconference action last week, including an impressive 7-2 on Saturday. The day was highlighted by Purdue’s 92-84 win over then-No. 1 Arizona at the Indy Classic. It was the Boilermakers’ first win over a number one ranked team since Nov. 25, 2000, when it also defeated Arizona in Indianapolis. Sophomores Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith and senior Zach Edey combined for 75 points, marking the first time three Purdue players have scored 20 or more points since Nov. 20, 2021, vs. North Carolina and for just the seventh time since the 1979-80 season.

  • Michigan State also put up a dominant performance in scoring an 88-64 win over then-No. 6 Baylor in Detroit. The Spartans led 45-47 at the half and shot a season-high 63.3 percent from the field, including 8-12 from three-point range, to win the Continental Tire Motor City Invitational. It was the first time the team shot at least 60 percent from the floor since Dec. 31, 2017, against Savannah State. Graduate student Tyson Walker paired a game-high 25 points with five steals to lead three Spartans in double-figure scoring.

  • Purdue sophomore Fletcher Loyer was named Big Ten Player of the Week after scoring a career-high 27 points in the Boilermakers’ 92-84 win over then-No. 1 Arizona. The sophomore guard shot 11-18 from the floor, including 5-9 from three-point range, and added a career best four steals. 

  • Iowa’s Owen Freeman collected his fourth Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor after pairing 14 points and 11 rebounds in just 19 minutes of action in an 88-54 win over Florida A&M. Freeman became the first Iowa freshman to record a double-double since Joe Wieskamp in 2018.

  • MILESTONE WATCH... Iowa head coach Fran McCaffrey stands just five wins from topping Tom Davis for most victories in program history. Davis collected 271 wins during his 13 seasons in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes’ first conference win of the season will also break a record with Davis for most Big Ten wins in program history... Maryland head coach Kevin Willard is just two wins shy of his 300th career victory. Willard will become the league’s fifth active coach with 300 career wins and join his father, Ralph, who amassed 336 wins as a coach at Western Kentucky, Pitt, and Holy Cross. Willard would join Virginia’s Tony Bennett as the only active coaches with 300 wins whose fathers also have 300 victories... Michigan State head coach Steve Izzo owns 693 wins after last night’s win over Oakland. Izzo is on the verge of becoming the 10th active coach in Div. I to record 700 career victories. 

  • Six Big Ten teams rank in the top-50 in Tuesday’s NET rankings. Purdue’s No. 3 ranking is tops in the league, while Illinois and Wisconsin sit at Nos. 14 and 17 respectively, followed by No. 33 Ohio State, No. 39 Michigan State, and No. 50 Nebraska. The Big 12 boasts a nation-leading eight top-50 entrants, while the Big Ten, Pac 12, and SEC. have six each, one more than the ACC and Mountain West.

  • The Big Ten leads the nation with 16 Quad 1 wins and is tied for the lead with 28 Quad 1and 2 wins through games on Dec. 18. Purdue, Wisconsin, and Michigan State are three of just 11 to have faces at least five Quad 1 opponents, while the Boilermakers and Spartans are two of six in the country to play at least seven teams in Quads 1 and 2. Only the SEC and SWAC have multiple teams to face at least five quad 1 opponents, while two SEC squads have also played at least seven teams in Quads 1 and 2.

  • The Big Ten boasts some of the top defensive teams in the country. Four teams also list in the top 40 in field goal defense, led by Illinois, who holds opponents to .372 shooting, good for sixth in the nation. Rutgers (.376) ranks 15th, followed by Nebraska (.379) in 17th and Michigan State (.393) in 35th. Rutgers, Illinois, and Maryland also rank in the top 40 in scoring defense. The Scarlet Knights surrender just 60.9 points, ninth in Div. I, while the Illini and Terps allow 64.2 and 64.4, respectively which list 36th and 37th. In total, nine teams give up 67.0 or fewer points per game.

  •  Eight Big Ten teams currently rank in the top-50 in the Kenpom rankings. Purdue leads the way at No. 2, followed by Illinois (#14), Wisconsin (#17), Michigan State (#23), Ohio State (#26), Nebraska (#43), Michigan (#45), and Iowa (#50). The conference’s eight teams are two behind the Big 12 for the most teams in the top 50. The SEC has seven entrants, one more than the Pac 12 and two more than the ACC and BIG EAST.

  • Six Big Ten teams currently rank in the top-50 of the ESPN Strength of Record listing. Purdue leads the way at No. 2, followed by No. 16 Wisconsin, No. 22 Illinois, No. 28 Northwestern, No. 32 Indiana, and No. 49 Ohio State.

  • More than 1.5 million fans have watched Big Ten basketball this season, including more than a million fans in our 14 home venues. Seven Big Ten teams rank in the top-25 in total attendance. Nebraska leads the league with 113,356 fans through eight games, third in the country. Michigan State (103,579) and Illinois (100,085) rank fourth and sixth, respectively. Indiana (12th - 94,579), Wisconsin (15th - 89,488), Maryland (21st - 75,278), and Purdue (23rd - 74,380) are included in the top 25. In total, 12 Big Ten schools rank in the top 50.

  • For the sixth consecutive year, each Big Ten Conference member institution will compete in a 20-game conference schedule. The Big Ten Conference season begins Friday, Dec. 1, when Maryland visits Indiana and Northwestern hosts Purdue, the first of 12 conference games played between Dec. 1-10. Following a break in conference play, Big Ten action will resume on Jan. 2. During the conference season, schools will play seven teams twice -- once at home and once on the road and six teams once, with three of those games being at home and the other three away.

  • The 27th annual Big Ten Tournament will be played at Target Center in Minneapolis between March 13-17, 2024, marking the first time the tournament has been played in Minneapolis. All 14 teams will advance to the tournament, with two 1st round games slated for Wednesday, March 13th. The top four teams will receive 1st and 2nd round byes and advance to the quarterfinals on Friday, March 15th.

  • A Big Ten media panel has chosen 2023 Consensus National Player of the Year Zach Edey as 2023-24 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Player of the Year. The league’s reigning Player of the Year, Edey became the first Boilermaker since Glenn Robinson in 1994 to win National Player of the Year accolades and the fifth Big Ten Player in the last 14 years to be named National Player of the Year joining Evan Turner (2010), Trey Burke (2013), Frank Kaminsky (2015) and Luka Garza (2021) as National Players of the Year.

  • The media panel also selected the 2023-24 Preseason All-Big Ten Team. Edey joined Illinois’ Terrence Shannon Jr., Maryland’s Jahmir Young, and Northwestern’s Boo Buie as unanimous selections. Also named to the team were Maryland’s Julian Reese, Minnesota’s Dawson Garcia, Michigan State’s A.J. Hoggard and Tyson Walker, Nebraska’s Keisei Tominaga, and Rutgers’ Clifford Omoruyi. All ten members of the 2023-24 Preseason All-Big Ten Team received All-Big Ten honors following the 2022-23 campaign. Buie and Shannon joined Edey with First Team accolades, while Omoruyi, Walker, and Young were named to the Second Team. Hoggard earned a spot on the Third Team, with Garcia, Reese, and Tominaga receiving Honorable Mention.