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Big Ten CommunicationsPublished: 12/12/2023, Last updated: 3/15/2024
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Big Ten Weekly Men's Basketball Central - Dec. 12-18

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  • Despite just 16 games on the docket this week, Saturday’s eight game slate includes games against some the biggest names in college basketball. Indiana will open the action at 12:30 p.m., as it welcomes No. 2 Kansas to Assembly Hall. At 2 p.m., Michigan State will face No. 6 Baylor at Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit. One hour later, Ohio State and UCLA will tipoff at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, while No. 3/4 Purdue and No. 1 Arizona will match wits at the Indy Classic inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

  • This week’s AP Top 25 poll included four Big Ten teams. Purdue led the way at No. 3, followed by No. 16 Illinois, No. 23 Wisconsin, and No. 25 Northwestern, while Ohio State received votes. In the USA Today/Coaches Poll, Purdue was ranked No. 4, with Illinois and Wisconsin at Nos. 16 and 23, respectively.  Three teams, Northwestern, Ohio State, and Indiana also received votes. 

  • 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.

  • The Big Ten is 78-31 (.716) in nonconference action through this weekend’s games. The league went 6-5 in nonconference play last week, including Illinois’ win over then-No. 11/9 Florida Atlantic. The conference also saw losses at then-No. 17/13 Tennessee and No. 1 Arizona. The 78 wins rank fifth among all conferences behind the Big 12 (102-25), Atlantic 10 (96-48), SEC (90-38), and ACC (88-35). The .716-win percentage lists third behind the Big 12 (.803) and the Mountain West (.728 // 75-28). Among the Big Ten’s 78 victories are seven wins over AP Top 25 opponents, which was tied with the ACC for the most of any conference in the nation.

  • The Big Ten went 6-5 in nonconference contests last week, highlighted by Illinois’s 98-89 win over then-No. 11/9 Florida Atlantic in Madison Square Garden. Marcus Domask and Terrence Shannon Jr. combined for 66 points, including 49 of the Illini’s 59 second-half points, as both set career highs with 33 points. According to ESPN Stats & Information data, they were the first pair of Division I teammates to score 30 points apiece on 70% shooting since Marist’s Thomas Kenney and Drew Samuels did so in January 1999.

  • In other non-conference action, Purdue trailed by as many as 12 points before a second half 12-0 run put them ahead for good, as the Boilermakers topped Alabama 92-86 in Toronto. Senior Zach Edey led Purdue with 35 points, while sophomore Braden smith added a career best 27 points with eight assists and five rebounds against just one turnover in 37 minutes. Rutgers topped Seton Hall, 70-63, to recapture the Garden State Hardwood Classic Trophy for the first time since 2019, while Ohio State (def. Miami (OH) 84-64), Minnesota (def. Florida Gulf Coast 77-57), and Northwestern (def. Detroit Mercy 91-59) added out of conference victories.  

  • Purdue’s Zach Edey earned his second Big Ten Player of the Week award of the season, after averaging 30.0 points and 9.5 rebounds per game in the Boilermakers’ two wins last week. Edey shot .700 (21-30) from the field and .900 (18-20) from the free throw line. The senior center tallied 25 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks in just 25 minutes of a win over Iowa, then posted 35 points, including 11-11 from the free throw line, and seven boards as the Boilermakers rallied for a win over Alabama. 

  • Wisconsin’s John Blackwell scored his second Freshman of the Week honor of the season, as the Badgers split a pair of contests. Blackwell Averaged 13.5 points and 5.5 rebounds, while shooting .500 from the field and 4-7 from three-point range. The freshman went 6-6 from the free throw line en route to 10 points in a win at Michigan State, before leading the Badgers with 17 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench at No. 1 Arizona.

  •  MILESTONE WATCH... Iowa head coach Fran McCaffrey stands just six 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 three 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.

  • Five Big Ten teams rank in the top-50 in Tuesday’s NET rankings. Purdue’s No. 4 ranking is tops in the league, while Illinois and Wisconsin sit at Nos. 18 and 19 respectively, followed by No. 35 Ohio State and No. 46 Northwestern. The SEC boasts a nation-leading eight top-50 entrants, one more than the Big 12, while the ACC joins the Big Ten with five.

  • The Big Ten boasts some of the top defensive teams in the country. Five teams also list in the top 40 in field goal defense, led by Illinois, who holds opponents to .366 shooting, good for sixth in the nation. Rutgers (.372) ranks 10th, followed by Michigan State (.385) in 23rd, Nebraska (.390) in 32nd, and Minnesota (.393) in 36th. 

  • Nine Big Ten teams currently rank in the top-60 in the Kenpom rankings. Purdue leads the way at No. 3, followed by Illinois (#14), Wisconsin (#15), Ohio State (#27), Michigan State (#35), Northwestern (#41), Michigan (#42), Iowa (#58), and Nebraska (#60). The conference’s nine teams are two behind the Big 12 for the most teams in the top 60. The SEC also has nine entrants, one more than the Pac 12 and three 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 1.3 million fans have watched Big Ten basketball this season, including more than 920,000 fans in our 14 home venues. Seven Big Ten teams rank in the top-20 in average attendance. Indiana leads the league with 15,471 fans per game, ninth in the country. The Hoosiers are followed by Wisconsin (15,334), Purdue (14,876), Michigan State (14,797), Illinois (14,343) and Nebraska (14,170) filling spots 10-14, while Maryland’s 13,054 fans are good for 20th. 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.