Another week in the Big Ten has come and gone and there’s little movement in this week’s Big Ten men’s basketball power rankings.
However this is a big week in shaping not only the Big Ten, but also the college basketball landscape. Dubbed “Feast Week” by college basketball fans, the week before and during Thanksgiving break boasts a variety of high-quality basketball tournaments in various locations around the country (or outside the country in the case of Nebraska).
A majority of Big Ten teams will be competing in some of these tournaments, which will be a measuring stick of the teams’ early progress.
And while the NFL will dominate televisions on Thanksgiving, take some time over the holiday to watch some college hoops — Feast Week is one of the best weeks outside of March Madness on the college basketball calendar, after all.
Now, let’s see where the Big Ten stands entering week three of the college basketball season. All records are accurate as of Nov. 20.
1. Michigan State Spartans (3-1)
Tom Izzo’s club notched a massive 76-73 victory on the road against then-No. 12 Seton Hall on Nov. 14, downing a Pirates squad regarded as one of the best teams in a loaded Big East.
Freshman forward Malik Hall posted the best performance of his young Spartan career against Seton Hall, with 17 second-half points capped by a go-ahead layup with 26 seconds remaining. Senior guard Cassius Winston led the Spartans in scoring with 21 points as the Spartans won in one of the best games of the college basketball season so far.
Michigan State pounded Charleston Southern 94-46 on Nov. 18 in its other contest of the week. The Spartans are one of the deepest teams in the country with Winston, Hall, sophomore forward Aaron Henry and junior forward Xavier Tillman capable of burning opponents on any given night.
The Spartans get to spend Thanksgiving in Hawaii at the prestigious Maui Invitational. The Spartans’ first opponent is Virginia Tech on Nov. 25.
2. Maryland Terrapins (4-0)
Another ho-hum week for the Terrapins.
Maryland blew by Oakland by 30 points on Nov. 16 and downed Fairfield by 19 points on Nov. 19. The Terrapins have yet to be tested this year, but they have handled the opponents on their schedule so far.
Sophomore forward Jalen Smith is off to a strong start in his second season, leading Maryland in scoring with 15 points per game and in rebounding with 9.3 rebounds per game. Smith is also shooting 54.8% from the field.
The Terrapins face undefeated George Mason (who will be in the Cayman Islands Classic with Nebraska) on Friday, Nov. 22, followed by a trip to Orlando for the Advocare Orlando Invitational next week.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0)
The No. 10 Buckeyes took care of business in their lone matchup this week, crushing Stetson 86-51 on Nov. 18.
Junior forward Kyle Young posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while fellow junior forward Kaleb Wesson added 13 points and 8 rebounds. The Buckeye defense was superb, limiting Stetson to 28% from the field and giving up 14 first-half points.
Ohio State is the lone high-profile Big Ten team to not be in a tournament over Thanksgiving. Instead, the Buckeyes will battle Purdue Fort-Wayne on Nov. 22 and Kent State on Nov. 25. December non-conference tilts with West Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky will make up for missing a “Feast Week” tournament.
4. Michigan Wolverines (3-0)
Like the Buckeyes, the Wolverines had one matchup this week — a comfortable 70-50 triumph over Elon.
Seniors Jon Teske and Zavier Simpson led Michigan’s attack, with Teske having 16 points and 7 rebounds while Simpson added 11 points and 7 assists.
Other than a victory over Creighton, the Wolverines haven’t been tested, and that won’t change with a matchup against winless Houston Baptist on Nov. 22. Next week, Michigan heads to the Bahamas to participate in a loaded Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
The Wolverines are one team we will know more about after “Feast Week,” as they could potentially face Cole Anthony and North Carolina if they defeat Iowa State in their first game.
5. Wisconsin Badgers (3-1)
Outside of Michigan State, Wisconsin had the second-most impressive victory of the week in a 77-61 win over Marquette.
The Badgers had all five starters score over double-figures, and senior guard Brevin Pritzl added 15 points off the bench. Wisconsin did an excellent job slowing down Marquette senior guard Markus Howard, limiting one of the best scorers in the country to 28% from the field.
Wisconsin has another in-state showdown Thursday, Nov. 21, when it faces Green Bay. The Badgers then travel to Brooklyn, New York, for the Legends Classic, which starts on Nov. 25.
6. Purdue Boilermakers (2-2)
The Boilermakers withstood a strong early start by Chicago State, only to blitz them in the second half in a 93-49 drubbing on Nov. 16.
With 4:56 remaining in the first half, Purdue trailed 28-25 but went on to outscore Chicago State 63-21 over the remainder of the contest. Freshman guard Isaiah Thompson poured in 17 points off the bench to lead Purdue in scoring. The Boilermakers also forced 17 turnovers.
Purdue faces Jacksonville State on Nov. 23 before traveling to Florida for the Emerald City Classic. The Boilermakers’ first game is against No. 21 VCU on Nov. 29.
7. Penn State Nittany Lions (4-0)
The Nittany Lions are the biggest risers in this week’s rankings, assisted by two big victories over Georgetown and Bucknell.
Sophomore guard Myreon Jones was electric in the Nov. 14 victory over the Hoyas, scoring 14 of Penn State’s first 16 points en route to a career-high 21 points in an 81-66 road victory. Senior forward Lamar Stevens dominated against Bucknell with 27 points and 8 rebounds in a 98-70 victory.
One of the most impressive things about Penn State’s undefeated start is how well its offense has been playing. The Nittany Lions average 88.5 points per game — the 15th-highest mark in Division I.
The Nittany Lions face Yale on Nov. 23, and then they will also be in Brooklyn over Thanksgiving. Penn State will be participating in the four-team NIT Season Tip-Off, which starts on Nov. 27.
8. Illinois Fighting Illini (4-1)
Illinois picked up two wins this week, with a 66-53 victory over Hawaii on Nov. 18 and an 85-57 triumph over The Citadel on Nov. 20.
This week could be better described for the Illini as the Kofi Cockburn show, as the freshman forward posted monster lines in both of last week’s games. Against Hawaii, Cockburn scored 15 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. He followed that up with an even better performance against The Citadel with an 18-point, 17-rebound double-double.
The 7-foot Jamaican forward currently averages 12.6 rebounds per game — the fourth-best mark in the country.
Illinois also won’t be participating in any holiday tournaments; instead, they will be facing Hampton on Nov. 23 and Division II Lindenwood University on Nov. 26. Look for Cockburn to post two more massive statlines.
9. Indiana Hoosiers (5-0)
The Hoosiers would be higher on this list if they had a quality win.
Indiana smashed Troy 100-62 on Nov. 16 and defeated Princeton 79-54 on Nov. 20. Indiana’s offense appears to be clicking as four Hoosiers currently average double-figures in scoring.
In fact, the Hoosiers boast one of the best offenses in the country through the season’s first three weeks. Indiana averages 90.6 points per game, the seventh-best average in Division I.
Indiana also won’t be participating in a holiday tournament. The Hoosiers face Louisiana Tech on Nov. 25 and South Dakota State on Nov. 30.
10. Iowa Hawkeyes (2-1)
Iowa handled business this week in its lone contest, an 87-74 victory over Oral Roberts.
Junior forward Luka Garza dominated ORU with 30 points and 10 rebounds, and four other Hawkeyes finished in double-figures behind Garza’s strong effort.
The Hawkeye defense is still an area of concern, as ORU shot 43% from the field and 34% on 3-pointers. Iowa faces North Florida on Thursday, Nov. 21, and Cal Poly on Nov. 24 before heading to the Las Vegas Invitational over Thanksgiving. Iowa’s first game is against No. 12 Texas Tech.
Best of the Rest
11. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-1)
12. Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-3)
13. Nebraska Cornhuskers (1-2)
14. Northwestern Wildcats (1-2)