A look at the upcoming week around the Big Ten Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: Minnesota (14-6, 3-4) vs. No. 22 Ohio State (16-4, 7-0), Saturday, at New York. The Gophers and Buckeyes meet in the third annual “Super Saturday — College Hoops & Hockey” at Madison Square Garden. The Buckeyes continue to impress in Chris Holtmann’s first year in Columbus . Ohio State has won four straight Big Ten road games in a single season for the first time since 2011 after winning at Northwestern on Thursday. Saturday’s game ends a stretch of three straight away from home for the Gophers. They broke a three-game losing streak with their overtime win at Penn State and visit Maryland on Thursday night before heading to the Big Apple.
LOOKING AHEAD: No. 23 Michigan (16-4, 5-2) is on a roll as it steams toward a rematch with Purdue on the road next Thursday. The Wolverines were beaten by the Boilermakers by a point last week — their only loss in 10 games — and are serious Big Ten contenders after being picked in the middle of the pack in the preseason. Up next are a challenging trip to Nebraska and a home game against Rutgers. Charles Matthews and Moe Wagner have been consistent scorers and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson are experienced hands. A team that figured to need some time to develop after losing three of its top four scorers from its Sweet 16 team suddenly looks as if it has arrived.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Michigan State freshman forward Jaren Jackson averaged 17.5 points, 4 rebounds and 4 blocks per game in two games last week. He matched his career high with 19 points against Michigan and added six blocks and three rebounds. He also had 16 points, five rebounds and two blocks against Rutgers. He’s averaged 11.5 points and 6.2 rebounds for the season, and he is first in the Big Ten with 3.8 blocks in conference games.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Third-ranked Purdue’s 14-game winning streak is the program’s longest since the 2009-10 team opened 14-0. The Boilermakers’ 18 wins are most in the country. … Eight Big Ten teams rank in the top 30 in total blocks, including the top two teams in Michigan State (152) and Minnesota (133). … Indiana has won three straight and is tied for fourth place with Michigan State, its road opponent Friday. In a 66-46 win over Northwestern, the Hoosiers allowed the fewest points since giving up 46 to Illinois in January 2014. The Hoosiers held Northwestern to 26.8-percent shooting, tied for second-lowest by an Indiana opponent since 1996-97. … Penn State has played two straight overtime games (win over Nebraska, loss to Minnesota) for the first time since the 2000-01 season.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: Nebraska (13-6, 4-2) has surpassed its overall win total (8) and Big Ten win total (3) from last season and is coming off a 74-65 victory over No. 20 Iowa on Tuesday, the Cornhuskers’ first over a ranked opponent under second-year coach Amy Williams. The Huskers are tied for fifth but are only one game off the lead. Nebraska started the week as one of six teams nationally with a plus-five or better improvement in the win column. The Huskers go into their game at co-leader Rutgers on Sunday riding a seven-game road winning streak.
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