It was a rather quiet week around college basketball. Well, other than Purdue finally reaching the summit, being named the top team in college basketball for the first time in school history. However, they can’t rest easy, with Big Ten basketball play beginning.
In the first conference game of the 2021-22 slate, Illinois hosted Rutgers last Thursday. Returning big man, and All-American candidate, Kofi Cockburn had a double-double to lead the Illini past the Scarlet Knights, 86-51. Indiana, Northwestern, Purdue, Ohio State and Michigan all got their first conference wins. Michigan also beat Nebraska last night, so the Huskers and surprisingly Iowa have started their conference seasons off 0-2. Illinois and Purdue are the big winners from the Big Ten over the last week.
Big Ten Basketball Standings
With Purdue ascending to the number one spot and the Illini starting 2-0 in conference play, here’s an updated look at the Big Ten basketball standings through December 7th, 2021.
|Team (Record)||Conference Record||Games Back|
|1. Illinois (7-2)||2-0||–|
|2. Purdue (8-0)||1-0||0.5|
|3. Indiana (7-1)||1-0||0.5|
|4. Northwestern (6-2)||1-0||0.5|
|5. Ohio State (6-2)||1-0||0.5|
|6. Michigan (6-3)||1-0||0.5|
|7. Minnesota (7-0)||0-0||1|
|8. Wisconsin (7-1)||0-0||1|
|9. Michigan State (7-2)||0-0||1|
|10. Maryland (5-4)||0-1||1.5|
|11. Penn State (4-4)||0-1||1.5|
|12. Rutgers (4-4)||0-1||1.5|
|13. Iowa (7-2)||0-2||2|
|14. Nebraska (5-5)||0-2||2|
Big Week For Big Ten
We have a handful of very intriguing Big Ten games this week and weekend to keep our eyes on. Tonight, Wisconsin will get their first conference test of the year, as they take on one-loss Indiana at the Kohl Center. Johnny Davis has been fantastic for the Badgers this season. He’s averaging over 20 points per game (ppg) and, when he is on his game, you just give him the ball and get out of the way. He’ll be huge tonight, and then again on Saturday when they take on Ohio State in Columbus, which we’ll preview later. Unbeaten Minnesota will host Michigan State with their undefeated lives on the line tonight. On top of that, Ohio State will host Towson tonight after the Tigers dominated Kent State Monday night. Oh, and Penn State will get another tune-up against Wagner tonight as well.
Tomorrow, Purdue will take on Rutgers in New Jersey, in what could be a close game. Scarlet Knights guard Paul Mulcahy is one of the best defenders in the Big Ten, snatching almost two steals per contest. He will be tasked with neutralizing Jaden Ivey, who has proven to be one of the top players in the country. The tough matchup for most teams against Purdue is against seven-footer Zach Edey. However, Rutgers sophomore center Clifford Omoruyi is a 6-11 body that can get physical with the Canadian. I still expect Purdue to come out unscathed, but it might not be the blowout everyone is expecting. Ron Harper Jr. is an x-factor for the Scarlet Knights. He’s entirely well-rounded, scoring over 14 ppg and grabbing eight rebounds. With that being said, Harper is inconsistent, so if he’s off his game, the shots will continue to fly but with much less success.
Wisconsin vs Ohio State
When: Saturday, Dec. 11th, 2021
Where: The Schottenstein Center — Columbus, OH
Coverage: Big Ten Network
Both of these two teams are off to a hot start this season. Assuming Wisconsin takes care of business tonight versus Indiana, something that isn’t guaranteed, both teams will enter the matchup a perfect 1-0 in conference play. However, this game may end up being about two players more than anything else. Outside of Jaden Ivey for Purdue, E.J Liddell for Ohio State and Johnny Davis for Wisconsin have been the two best players in the Big Ten. Both are averaging more than 20 ppg and pull in over five rebounds per game. However, with that being said, Brad Davison, who’s in college for possibly his 10th year, is playing a great second fiddle to Davis this season. He’s averaging 16 ppg, though shooting worse than his career average.
As for the Ohio State supporting cast, it really is an ensemble. Behind Liddell’s 20 ppg, the next leading scorer, Zed Key, is averaging only 10 ppg. So, between Liddell and Davis, Liddell might need to have the bigger game for the Buckeyes to win. Watch out for freshmen Meechie Johnson Jr. and Malaki Branham. Johnson already hit a game-winning three over a good Seton Hall team this season. Branham is as steady as they come. As a starter, he really fills out the box score. He averages seven ppg, grabs three rebounds, dishes out two assists and has a steal nearly every game. Both will have to play big roles for the Buckeyes to knock off Davis and the Badgers.