Big Ten This Week: Rutgers looks to keep rolling at Purdue
A look at the upcoming weekend around the Big Ten Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
Rutgers at No. 5 Purdue, Sunday. The Scarlet Knights (16-9, 10-5) have won four straight games — all against Top 25 opponents — and are bunched with five teams within two games of the conference-leading Boilermakers (23-4, 12-4). Rutgers will be looking for the two-game season sweep of Purdue. Ron Harper Jr.’s long shot at the buzzer beat the then-No. 1 Boilermakers in December. Harper is questionable with a hand injury. Purdue has won two straight following its 24-point loss at Michigan last week.
Michigan (14-10, 8-6), the media’s preseason pick to win the league, is sitting in seventh place and in danger of not making the NCAA Tournament after reaching the Elite Eight last year. The Wolverines took a step in the right direction with Thursday’s 84-79 win at Iowa, and they have plenty of opportunities to enhance their resume. After they visit No. 15 Wisconsin on Sunday, they play four straight home games against Rutgers, Illinois, Michigan State and Iowa.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Illinois’ Alfonso Plummer is on track to make the most 3-point field goals since Carsen Edwards had 135 for Purdue in 2018-19. Plummer has 74 in 25 games, an average of just under 3.0, and is shooting 40% from distance. Plummer has made at least five 3s in seven games, including a 7-for-9 night against Kansas State in November. Last year, Plummer made 64 3s at Utah and led the Pac-12 with 2.6 per game.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Rutgers’ 70-59 win over Illinois on Wednesday marked the Knights’ fifth victory of the season over a ranked opponent, most in a season in program history. The four straight Top 25 wins is a program record. ... Purdue’s 23-4 record marks the best 27-game start since the 2009-10 team opened 24-3. A win over Rutgers would match Purdue’s best 28-game start since 1987-88. ... At 11-4, Wisconsin has clinched a winning Big Ten record for the 20th time in 22 seasons. ... Ohio State, with its 70-45 win over Minnesota on Tuesday, allowed its fewest points in a Big Ten game since a 48-39 win over Illinois in February 2014.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE
No. 13 Maryland (20-6, 12-3) is the hottest team in the league with eight straight wins and plays the women’s game of the week at No. 9 Michigan (20-4, 11-3) on Sunday. The Terrapins are percentage points behind first-place Indiana, one game up in the win column on the Hoosiers and one down in the loss column. ... Northwestern defeated its highest-ranked opponent in more than 40 years last Sunday with its 71-69 double-overtime win over then-No. 4 Michigan. It was the second highest-ranked victory in program history behind a 75-58 win over No. 3 Long Beach State in 1982. ... The Big Ten leads all conferences in scoring (71.0 ppg), field-goal percentage (.434) and 3-point percentage (.341).
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