Spartans look to keep building, Buckeyes face two tests
A look at things to watch this week in the Big Ten:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: Michigan State at Ohio State. The Spartans (12-6, 4-1) bounced back from a loss to Penn State by beating No. 24 Minnesota 65-47 on Wednesday night. Miles Bridges scored 16 points, rebounding after two subpar games following a seven-game absence because of a sprained ankle. The Spartans have a chance to move back into the AP Top 25 by winning at Ohio State on Sunday. The Buckeyes’ tough week started on Thursday night at No. 18 Wisconsin. Ohio State hopes to reverse its fortunes at home after losing in double overtime to Purdue on Jan. 5.
LOOKING AHEAD: Parity reigns early in the conference season. No team is undefeated. The Spartans, along with Maryland, Purdue, Nebraska and Wisconsin were the one-loss teams in conference play atop the standings going into Thursday. Minnesota, which just rejoined the poll for the first time in nearly four years, faces another potentially tricky test on Saturday in Happy Valley against the Nittany Lions.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Indiana has lost four of five, which includes a 1-3 start in conference play. Offense isn’t a problem, with the Hoosiers averaging a league-high 79.8 points per conference game. Defense, though, is more of an issue. Big Ten opponents were shooting 46.8 percent so far, up from the Hoosiers’ overall season average of 40.6 percent. Indiana hosts Rutgers on Sunday.
PLAYER TO WATCH: A four-game streak of 20-point games ended for Illinois’ Malcolm Hill when he finished with 15 in an 85-69 win over Michigan on Wednesday night. The Big Ten’s second-leading scorer (18.8 points) entering Wednesday, the Illini return to action on Saturday when the Terrapins visit Champaign. Hill scored 28 points and shot 4 of 7 from 3-point range when Maryland last went to Illinois on Jan. 7, 2015, a 64-57 victory for the Illini.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: Michigan State handed No. 11 Ohio State (14-5, 4-1) its first league loss of the season on Tuesday behind a 42-point outing by Tori Jankoska in a 94-75 win in East Lansing. Jankoska set the Spartans’ single-game record, as well as the career scoring record previously held by Aerial Powers (1,817 points). No. 3 Maryland (16-1, 4-0) remained unbeaten in league play after Brionna Jones tied a school record with 42 points in an 89-83 win over Penn State on Wednesday night. The Terps travel to Iowa on Saturday, while the Buckeyes visit Purdue on Sunday.
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Genaro C. Armas in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
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