Michigan State at Purdue. The Boilermakers (13-6, 6-2) are rolling now. An overtime win at Wisconsin on Jan. 11 started a four-game winning streak that has also included a blowout against Rutgers and double-digit victories over Indiana and Ohio State. Purdue lost by 18 at Michigan State earlier this season but gets the sixth-ranked Spartans (17-2, 8-0) at home Sunday.
LOOKING AHEAD: Ohio State and Indiana have each lost five straight, and the schedule isn’t giving them a breather. The Buckeyes (12-6, 2-5) play on the road against Nebraska (13-6, 3-5) and Michigan in their next two games. The Hoosiers (12-7, 3-5) host fifth-ranked Michigan (18-1, 7-1) on Friday night. That’s followed by a brief reprieve — a trip to Rutgers (9-9, 2-6) — but a road game against Michigan State after that.
PLAYER TO WATCH: There have been times lately when Jon Teske has looked like Michigan’s best player. The 7-foot-1 center has scored at least 13 points in each of the past four games, shooting 65 percent from the field and going 7 of 13 from 3-point range. Teske’s rim protection has given the Wolverines a boost this season and helped them withstand the loss of Moe Wagner to the NBA.
Although Michigan lost to Ethan Happ and Wisconsin last weekend , Teske’s presence is a major factor for the Wolverines. In fact, the matchup between him and Michigan State big man Nick Ward could go a long way toward deciding the Big Ten title.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: If you want to beat Michigan State, be ready to shoot some 3s. The Spartans are holding opponents to 40.1-percent shooting from inside the arc, which is the best mark in the nation, according to kenpom.com. Michigan State’s defense also led the nation last season at 38.4 percent.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: There were six Big Ten teams in the Top 25 on Jan. 14, and five of them have lost since then. Four of them are still ranked this week: No. 11 Maryland, No. 14 Rutgers, No. 17 Iowa and No. 23 Michigan State (13-5, 3-4). The Spartans are 10-0 at home, including two wins over top-10 opponents in Oregon and Maryland. On the road, they are just 2-4.
Iowa (15-4, 6-2) handed Rutgers (15-4, 7-1) its first conference loss Wednesday night, leaving the Scarlet Knights with just a one-game lead in the loss column over Iowa, Maryland (16-2, 5-2) and Purdue (14-6, 5-2) in the Big Ten race.