After shaking off rust, No. 3 Michigan eyes rolling Buckeyes

NCAA Basketball

A look at the upcoming week around the Big Ten Conference:

GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 3 Michigan at No. 4 Ohio State, Sunday: Michigan didn’t need much time to shake off the rust from a three-week layoff, and Ohio State is rolling along. Michigan rallied to win at No. 21 Wisconsin 67-59 last Sunday in its first game back. The school had put all activities on hold due to several positive tests for a COVID-19 variant that transmits at a higher rate. The Wolverines host Rutgers in what could be a tough matchup on Thursday. Ohio State has won six straight, the longest active streak in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes visit Penn State on Thursday.

LOOKING AHEAD: Michigan has the Big Ten regular-season championship in sight with a 9-1 mark in conference play. The Wolverines have not finished in first place since the 2013-14 team went 15-3 in conference play.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Iowa center Luka Garza continues to make his case for the Naismith Trophy as as college basketball’s most outstanding player. The reigning Big Ten Player of the Year leads the nation in scoring and has more points against Top 25 teams than any other player since the start of the 2019-20 season – 501 heading into Thursday’s game at No. 21 Wisconsin. Garza is the only player in Big Ten history with 2,000 points, 800 rebounds, 125 blocked shots, and 100 3-pointers. He is the only player from a major conference to post those numbers dating to the 1992-93 season.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: With Illinois at No. 5, this is the latest in a season the Big Ten has had three teams in the top five of the AP poll. The closest the conference came prior to this was with Purdue (No. 3), Indiana (No. 4) and Iowa (No. 6) on March 2, 1987. The Big Ten most recently had three top 10 teams this late in a season on March 5, 2018 – Michigan State (No. 4), Michigan (No. 7) and Purdue (No. 10), according to the Big Ten Network. … The Division I Men’s Basketball Committee had Michigan at No. 3 and Ohio State at No. 4 in rankings released Saturday, with both teams as No. 1 seeds. Illinois was at No. 5 with a second seed. … The Big Ten has four top-10 teams in the NCAA’s NETrankings – Michigan (No. 3), Illinois (No. 4), Ohio State (No. 6) and Iowa (No. 7).

ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: The Big Ten has five teams in the AP poll, second to the SEC – No. 9 Maryland, No. 11 Michigan, No. 14 Indiana, No. 15 Ohio State and No. 24 Northwestern. Michigan, which matched its highest ranking, has two tough games coming up – at Indiana on Thursday and home against Ohio State on Sunday. … Big Ten teams were leading the nation in scoring (74 points per game) and field-goal percentage (43.9) through Tuesday. … The league has two of the nation’s top three scorers, with Iowa’s Caitlin Clark (26.6 ppg.) second and Michigan’s Naz Hillmon (25.7) third. Iowa’s Monika Czinano is No. 1 in field-goal percentage (67.1), with Hillmon (64.3) second. … Maryland’s Brenda Frese became the third active Big Ten coach – women’s and men’s – with at least 500 wins at their current school with the Terrapins’ 95-73 victory at Nebraska on Sunday. The others are Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer and Michigan State men’s coach Tom Izzo.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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