The current betting favorite to win the John Wooden Award as the nation’s top player is Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis, and his Badgers are featured in one of two games involving ranked schools in the Big Ten on Friday. Here’s a look and check back for NCAAB odds.
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#17 Illinois at Maryland
It’s a 7 p.m. ET tip on Fox Sports 1. The Illini (13-4) are off their first Big Ten loss, a wild 96-88 double-overtime defeat on Monday vs. No. 4 Purdue. Illinois guard Andre Curbelo hadn’t been on the court since Nov. 23 but was terrific in the loss with 20 points.
Alfonso Plummer led the way with 24 points, hitting six three-pointers. Plummer made the game-tying shot to force double overtime and was instrumental in the second half comeback. Trent Frazier also had a strong outing with 18 points and a team-high six assists.
Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk’s defense was key in the near comeback. With Kofi Cockburn and Omar Payne spending both overtimes and some of the second half on the bench due to foul trouble, Bosmans-Verdonk locked down Zach Edey and Trevion Williams to keep Illinois in the game. Bosmans-Verdonk played a career-high 20 minutes and recorded four points, four rebounds and two steals.
Maryland (9-9) was routed at Michigan on Tuesday, 83-64. Eric Ayala led Maryland in scoring with 22 points, while Donta Scott finished with a season-high 19 points. Julian Reese (10 points) also scored in double figures. Ayala scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half alone.
Ayala moved into 29th on the all-time scoring list at Maryland with 20 points in the game. He now has 1,286 as he passed Bob Kessler, who scored 1,266 from 1953-56. Next on the list is Maryland legend Joe Smith, who scored 1,290 points from 1993-95 Ayala also hit two 3-pointers to give him 195 in his career, good for fifth all-time. Next on the list at No. 6 on the list, passing Eric Hayes, who had 196 from 2006-10.
Illinois goes for the season sweep as it beat Maryland 76-64 on Jan. 11. Cockburn scored 23 points and tied a career-high with 18 rebounds after early foul trouble for the Illini. He made 9-of-12 shots. After Eric Ayala’s 3-pointer gave Maryland a 47-42 lead with 14:31 left, Illinois went on a 12-0 run and led the rest of the way.
#14 Michigan State at #8 Wisconsin
Michigan State struggled throughout and took a 4-point lead (50-46) midway through the second half but could not hold on as Northwestern took a 62-56 on a three-point play from Ryan Young with 2:33 left. The Spartans hit a pair of baskets and had a chance for the lead with two seconds left when a 3-pointer from Hall was off the mark. MSU got the rebound and senior Marcus Bingham Jr. was fouled with one second left, but his first free throw was off the mark as Northwestern held on for the win.
Michigan State committed 17 turnovers and Northwestern scored 16 points off turnovers. Northwestern out-rebounded Michigan State, 40-35, and had 17 offensive rebounds with 16 second-chance points. Julius Marble scored a career-high 18 points, his fourth game in double figures this season and the sixth time in his career.
On the bright side, Max Christie was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Monday. He became the first Michigan State player to earn Freshman of the Week honors five times in a season Miles Bridges did so during the 2016-17 season. In a pair of games last week, Christie averaged 11.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 blocks. The freshman leads MSU in minutes played (30.7) and has scored in double figures eight times this year. Christie is second on the team in scoring with 10.4 points per game, while adding 3.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists.
In a bit of an oddity, Wisconsin (15-2) also comes of a game vs. Northwestern, winning at the Wildcats 82-76 on Tuesday as superstar Johnny Davis had 27 points in the Badgers’ seventh straight win. Wisconsin is off to its best start to a season since the 2014-15 team also opened with a record of 15-2.
The Wildcats pulled within four with 48 seconds to go, but Tyler Wahl made two foul shots to help Wisconsin hold on in the final seconds. Wisconsin went 17-for-26 at the free throw line compared to just 3-for-8 for Northwestern. UW is 8-0 when attempting at least 20 FTs in a game this season. The Badgers shot a season-high 52.9% from 3-point range, going 9-for-17 from deep.
Davis reached the 20-point threshold for the 10th time this season and has scored at least 25 points 5 times. Davis is averaging 22.1 ppg this season. Wisconsin topped the 70-point mark for the 7th consecutive game for the first time since scoring 70+ in 9 straight times in 2016-17.
This is the first of two scheduled meetings between MSU & UW.
- Illinois could be in a trap game so take Maryland as the Terps will get plenty of points. Also back Wisconsin.