With just over a week of men’s college basketball in the books, the season is already shaping up to be a good one.
Granted, the level of competition across the board has not been even, but so far, the Big Ten is still an impressive 42-9.
No. 25 Michigan is probably in the top half of that spectrum after beating Marquette and Southern Methodist last week in New York City to win the 2K Classic.
While it’s still early, things are shaping up to be very interesting when conference play starts, and with that, the Daily breaks down the Wolverines’ upper echelon of competition when Big Ten play rolls around.
No. 3 Indiana (3-0)
Tom Crean’s squad is off to a fast start after topping then-third-ranked Kansas, 103-99, in Honolulu during the Armed Forces Classic. The Hoosiers trailed at halftime before surging back to tie the game and force an extra period. In overtime, Indiana pulled away for its first signature win of the season.
Guard James Blackmon Jr., who missed all of Big Ten play last season with a knee injury, has played like he has something to prove. He has averaged a whopping 23 points per game as well as 7.3 rebounds per game in Indiana’s first three games of the season.
Three other players in the Hoosiers’ starting lineup — center Thomas Bryant, guard Robert Johnson and forward OG Anunoby — are all also averaging 10-plus points per game.
Indiana will have one more massive test — a home game against No. 4 North Carolina in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Nov. 30 — before starting Big Ten play.
No. 16 Wisconsin (2-1)
After losing at No. 12 Creighton, 79-67, the Big Ten media’s preseason pick to win the conference rebounded two nights later with an 18-point win over Chicago State and a 74-62 win over Tennessee in Hawaii in the first round of the Maui Invitational.
The Badgers will play Georgetown next with a potential matchup against the Tar Heels in the championship game.
Guard Bronson Koening has led the way, averaging 17 points per game, while Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year forward Nigel Hayes has averaged 12.5 points per game.
Forward Ethan Happ has averaged eight rebounds a game to lead the Badgers on the glass.
No. 17 Purdue (2-1)
The Boilermakers head into the week preparing for a trip to Mexico to play in the Cancun Challenge. But a week ago, Matt Painter’s team had a chance to snag its first signature win of the season against No. 3 Villanova.
But Purdue couldn’t pull off the victory, falling just short, 79-76.
While the Boilermakers were projected to lean heavily on their big men inside — Caleb Swanigan and center Isaac Haas lead the team averaging 20.7 and 18.3 points, respectively — guard Vince Edwards has also impressed early on.
Purdue is slated to play at No. 10 Louisville in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge before it starts Big Ten play.
No. 24 Michigan State (2-2)
Michigan State started off its season with a heartbreaking loss in the Armed Forces Classic to Arizona, in which it gave up the winning bucket with just two seconds left in the game to seal the 65-63 loss.
A week later, the Spartans traveled to New York City, where they faced off against No. 1 Kentucky in the Champions Classic. Michigan State struggled to generate offense, shooting just 38 percent to lose to the Wildcats, 69-48.
The Spartans, led by a highly touted recruiting class which includes three five-star recruits in guards Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston and Joshua Langford and a four-star recruit in forward Nick Ward, were expected to contend from the get-go, but recent results have caused some doubt.
Sunday night, Michigan State eked out a one-point victory over Florida Gulf Coast that was marred by a clock error at the end of the game.
The Spartans travel to the Bahamas this week to play in the Battle 4 Atlantis, where a potential matchup against Louisville is in the books. Michigan State will also play at No. 6 Duke in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
The Terrapins’ non-conference schedule was highlighted by a matchup at Georgetown in their second game of the season. Maryland overcame a seven-point deficit in the final minute of the game to narrowly win, 76-75, to open its season.
Mark Turgeon’s team followed the win with another victory Sunday night against Towson. The Terrapins’ biggest question going into the season was where production would come from after a high attrition rate last season, but Preseason All-Big Ten guard Melo Trimble is still around, and he leads the team, averaging 19.9 points per game so far.