A look at things to watch this week in the Big Ten:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 16 Purdue at Northwestern on Sunday. Northwestern’s pursuit of its first NCAA Tournament bid is probably the league’s biggest story as the regular season winds down. The Wildcats (21-9, 10-7) beat Michigan at the buzzer Wednesday night, and that was a crucial victory, because next up for Northwestern is Big Ten champion Purdue (24-6, 13-4). The Boilermakers clinched at least a share of the title when they beat rival Indiana on Tuesday night.
LOOKING AHEAD: The seeding race for next week’s Big Ten tournament is looking pretty chaotic. No. 22 Wisconsin (22-7, 11-5), Maryland (23-7, 11-6), Minnesota (22-7, 10-6), Michigan State (18-12, 10-7) and Northwestern are part of a logjam behind Purdue in the standings.
Among the games to watch: Iowa (16-13, 8-8) at Wisconsin on Thursday night, Michigan State at Maryland on Saturday and Minnesota at Wisconsin on Sunday night.
The top four seeds advance straight to the quarterfinals in the Big Ten tournament.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Purdue’s 23rd regular-season title is the most for any Big Ten team, but it was only the second over the past two decades for the Boilermakers. The other was in 2010. … Minnesota’s Reggie Lynch had 11 blocked shots in a win over Penn State last weekend. The Golden Gophers have won seven straight. … Northwestern’s Bryant McIntosh is now up to 525 career assists, three short of Michael Thompson’s school record.
PLAYER TO WATCH: As the postseason approaches, Maryland is hoping Melo Trimble’s tough shooting stretch will be over soon. He’s 3 for 19 from 3-point range over the past three games, and he’s down to 33.5 percent from long distance on the season – not a great figure for the player who leads the Terrapins in attempts from beyond the arc.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: No. 4 Maryland and No. 9 Ohio State shared the regular-season title, with Ohio State taking the top seed in this week’s conference tournament. … The Big Ten tourney began Wednesday, with 12th-seeded Illinois beating 13th-seeded Nebraska 79-70 and 11th-seeded Wisconsin beating 14th-seeded Rutgers 61-55.
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Noah Trister in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
More college basketball at www.collegebasketball.ap.org
Northwestern’s next test is matchup with Big Ten champs – FOXSports.com