Here’s a look at the upcoming week around the Big Ten Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
No. 16 Minnesota (10-3, 3-3) at No. 5 Iowa (9-2, 3-1). Sunday’s game is a rematch after the Golden Gophers won the first meeting between these teams 102-95 in overtime on Christmas night. Brandon Johnson made eight 3-pointers for Minnesota, which overcame 32 points and 17 rebounds from Iowa star Luka Garza. Defense is still the big question for Iowa, which plays at Maryland on Thursday night before hosting Minnesota. The Golden Gophers lost last week to Wisconsin but also beat Michigan State and Ohio State and moved up five spots in the AP poll. Minnesota was then routed 82-57 by Michigan on Wednesday night.
The Big Ten’s other two top-10 teams are scheduled to play Tuesday night when No. 8 Wisconsin (9-2, 3-1) visits No. 10 Michigan (10-0, 5-0). The Wolverines are unbeaten and have won four straight games by double digits. They’ll also have extra time to prepare, since this weekend’s game at Penn State has been postponed. Wisconsin is also coming off a postponement against Penn State and faces Indiana on Thursday night. Not only is Michigan the only undefeated team left in the Big Ten, nobody else has fewer than two losses.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson has been one of the most impressive freshmen in the country so far. The 7-foot-1 center is averaging 18 points and 8.1 rebounds a game. He is also far and away the conference leader in shooting percentage at 73%. Dickinson’s terrific start should only heighten anticipation of his matchup with Garza — but that will have to wait. The Wolverines aren’t scheduled to face Iowa until March 4. Dickinson scored 28 points in the win over Minnesota, and opposing 7-footer Liam Robbins had only five.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Iowa ranks No. 1 in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency but 97th in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to Kenpom.com. The latter mark is the second-worst in the Big Ten, ahead of only Nebraska. … If Ohio State has a late lead, it’s clear who the Buckeyes should want at the line. CJ Walker is 42 of 43 on free throws this season, and Duane Washington Jr. is 32 of 34. … Michigan is unbeaten despite at least one area of bad luck: Opponents are shooting a league-best 77% against the Wolverines on free throws. … Nebraska’s Big Ten losing streak is now at 21 after Michigan State beat the Cornhuskers 84-77 on Saturday. The win allowed the Spartans to avoid their first 0-4 conference start since 1979-80 — when they had to replace Magic Johnson after winning the national title.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE
No. 15 Michigan (7-0, 2-0) is also unbeaten in women’s basketball, and the Wolverines were at their best in the first half of an 84-63 victory over Northwestern. Michigan led 55-26 at halftime. The Wolverines, who have two of the top four scorers in the league in Naz Hillmon and Leigha Brown, have home games coming up against Nebraska and Illinois. Michigan has equaled its best start in program history, last achieved in 2015-16. … No. 16 Ohio State (5-0, 1-0) and No. 23 Michigan State (8-0, 3-0) are the conference’s other undefeated teams. Michigan State hosts No. 12 Maryland (7-1, 3-0) on Thursday.
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