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Big Ten CommunicationsPublished: 3/8/2024, Last updated: 3/15/2024
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Men's Basketball Weekly - March 8-10

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Big Ten. Big News.

  • Purdue clinched at least a share of the 2024 Big Ten Conference Men’s Basketball championship on Sunday, as it topped Michigan State 80-74. The Boilermakers claimed the outright title on Tuesday, topping Illinois 77-71. The victory improved the Boilermakers to 16-3 in conference play and established a three-game lead over Illinois with one game to play. This is Purdue’s second consecutive Big Ten title and its 26th overall, four more than Indiana for the most in conference history. The repeat marks the first for the program since raising three straight crowns in 1994, 1995, and 1996.

  • On Friday, the Naismith Hall of Fame announced that Purdue’s Zach Edey has been selected as one of five finalists for its Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, awarded to the nation’s best center. Edey joins Clemson’s PJ Hall, Creighton’s Ryan Kalkbrenner, Kansas’ Hunter Dickinson, and North Carolina’s Armando Bacot as award finalists. Edey, who won the award in 2023, joins Iowa’s Luke Garza (2020, 2021), Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ (2019), and Frank Kaminsky (2015) as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award winners from the Big Ten.

  • Michigan State Tyson Walker is one of five finalists for the Naismith Hall of Fame Jerry West Award, the hall announced on Tuesday. Arizona’s Caleb Love, Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr., Kentucky’s Antonio Reeves, and North Carolina’s RJ Davis join Walker as the award’s five finalist. Three Big Ten players have previously won the award, including Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis (2022), Purdue’s Carsen Edwards (2018), and Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell (2015).

  • Purdue guard Braden Smith has been named one of finalists for the 2024 Naismith Hall of Fame Bob Cousy Award, the hall announced on Monday. Smith joins Alabama’s Mark Sears, Houston’s Jamal Shead, Marquette’s Tyler Kolek, and UConn’s Tristen Newton as finalists for the nation’s top point guard award. Smith looks to become the Big Ten’s third winner of the award, joining Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu (2021) and Michigan’s Trey Burke (2013). 

  • MILESTONE WATCH... Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo is on a short countdown to coaching his 1,000th career game. With three more games on the Michigan State bench, Izzo will join a club that included just 12 active coaches at the beginning of the season.

  • Five teams were included in this week’s AP and USA Today Coaches polls, released on Monday. Purdue will enter this week’s action ranked No. 3 in both polls, while Illinois sits at No. 12 in both lists. Michigan State received votes in the AP poll, while the coaches recognized Northwestern and Nebraska in their poll.

  • Iowa’s Payton Sandfort was named Men’s Basketball Player of the Week presented by Air National Guard for the week of Feb.26-March 3, 2024. Sandfort earned his first career Player of the Week award after averaging 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 8.0 assists, and 1.5 blocks, with a shooting line of 40.0/40.0/95.8, as the Hawkeyes scored a pair of wins. The senior guard recorded the first triple-double in program history with 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists in a 90-81 victory over Penn State. Sandfort then tallied 23 points, five rebounds, and six assists to lead Purdue to an 87-80 win at Northwestern.

  • Minnesota’s Cam Christie claimed his second Freshman of the Year honor after averaging 21.0 points and 3.0 rebounds on 42.3 percent shooting, including 7-13 from three-point range, as the Gophers split a pair of games. Christie scored a career-high 23 points and hit six of nine three-point attempts in 36 minutes of a 105-97 loss at then-No. 13/16 Illinois. Christie closed the week with a game-high 19 points, including 8-8 from the free throw line, in the Gophers’ 75-70 win over Penn State.

Recent Game Recaps

Purdue 77, Illinois 71 (Tuesday, March 5)

The Boilermakers claimed their second consecutive outright Big Ten championship with a come-from-behind win over Illinois on Tuesday. Purdue became the first Big Ten team since Ohio State (2005-06 and 2006-07) to repeat as outright champions. The Illini led through the entire first half, pushing their lead to as many at 10 points on a Marcus Domask jumper with 5:18 left in the first, and carried a 40-34 lead into the halftime break. Purdue took its first lead with 10:11 to play, when Lance Jones hit Mason Gillis for a three-pointer. The lead changed hand several times over the next seven minutes, but trailing by two with 3:25 to play, Purdue went on a decisive 10-2 run, including seven points by Fletcher Loyer before a Jones triple put the Boilermakers ahead 74-68 with 54 seconds to play. A Domask hoop and harm cut Purdue’s lead back to three, but on its next possession, Loyer collected an offensive board before Braden Smith’s three-pointer sealed the victory. Zach Edey led Purdue with 28 points, while Loyer finished the game with 16 and Smith with 13. Four Illini also scored in double figures, led by Domask’s 20 points. Coleman Hawkins paired 13 points and a game-high nine rebounds.

Michigan State 53, Northwestern 49 (Wednesday, March 6)

In a defensive battle, the Spartans made the last stand, as Michigan State held Northwestern to just one field goal over the final seven minutes to pull out a win. After trailing for much of the first half, Michigan State grabbed a lead early in the second half and led by as many as six points. The lead swung back and forth over the next several minutes before Boo Buie put the Wildcats up 43-42 with 7:17 to play. A pair of Nick Martinelli free throws extended Northwestern’s lead to three before a 9-1 run put the Spartans ahead for good. Michigan State drained five consecutive free throws before Tyson Walker hit a pair of lay-ups to give the home team a 51-46 lead with 1:44 on the clock. A Ryan Langborg three-pointer pulled Northwestern to within 51-49 with 55 seconds to play before Tre Holloway iced the game with a pair of free throws with nine seconds to play. Three Spartans scored in double figures, led by Walker’s 19 points. Malik Hall paired 15 points and a career-best 17 rebounds, while Holloman added 12 points off the bench. Buie led the Wildcats with 15 points, while Brooks Barnhizer paired 11 points, 12 rebounds and a pair of steals.

Indiana 79, Minnesota 58 (Wednesday, March 6)

The Hoosiers scored 48 of their 70 points in the paint, as Indiana built its first three-game win streak since late December. Trailing by five points with just under eight minutes left in the first half, the Hoosiers went on a 10-0 run that gave them control of the game. After leading by five points at the half, Indiana held Minnesota to just one field goal over the first seven minutes of the second half, extending its lead to 11 points with 13:27 to play. Indiana never allowed the Gophers to regain their rhythm, pressuring the Gophers into 10 second half turnovers and just 3-14 shooting from beyond the three-point line in the second half. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers shot 64 percent from the floor, including 5-7 from deep after the break. Kel’el Ware led Indiana with a dominant 26 point, 11 rebound, three block performance, while Trey Galloway paired 13 points, 11 rebounds, and five steals. Dawson Garcia also notched a double-double for Minnesota with 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Mike Mitchell Jr. tallied 13 points, six assists and three steals. Parker Fox added 14 points and five boards off the bench.

Wisconsin 78, Rutgers 66 (Thursday, March 7)

The Badgers overcame deficits of nine points in the first half and seven points in the second half to score a win over Rutgers in their final appearance of the season at the Kohl Center. The Scarlet Knights led 24-15 with 7:44 after a jumper by Jeremiah Williams before the Badgers began their first comeback. The Badgers responded with a 15-2 run, with a pair of John Blackwell free throws giving Wisconsin a four-point lead. Trailing by two at the half, Rutgers regained its lead after a Gavin Griffiths three-pointer capped a 13-3 run, putting the Scarlet Knights ahead 47-40 at the 14:35 mark. Wisconsin responded with a spurt of its own, as back-to-back jumpers by Kamari McGee punctuated a 12-0 run to put the Badgers ahead 59-49 with eight minutes to play, a lead it would not relinquish. Four Badgers scored in double figures, including AJ Storr, who scored a game-high 19 points to go with seven rebounds. Steven Crowl notched a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Blackwell paired 17 points and eight boards off the bench. Williams scored a team-high 16 points for Rutgers, with Griffiths chipping in with 14 points off the bench.