Purdue on the Incline

Player of the Week

Ryan Cline, Purdue

Ryan ClineRyan ClineThough he wasn’t the leading scorer for his own team this week, the senior sharpshooter hit big shots and didn’t miss a whole lot. He hit 6-7 three-pointers on his way to 20 points against Penn State, then got 11 more on a 3-7 outside shooting day against Minnesota, bringing his numbers on the week to 10-16 (63%) from the field and 64% from outside. He also chipped in 7 assists with only 1 turnover. Carsen Edwards is the go-to guy, but Cline may be the best shooter in the conference.

Who’s Hot

Carsen Edwards, Purdue

The surging Boilermakers experienced some discomfort in both their games this season, but their all-American candidate, Carsen Edwards, had a big role in pulling them out of their funk when he needed to. Though we saw some of trigger-happy Carsen at times, 38 points is 38 points and that’s how many he scored (on 12-24 shooting) against Penn State, followed by 17 as he sparked the comeback against Minnesota. His conference-leading scoring average now sits at 24.5 PPG.

Trent Frazier, Illinois

In what has been an up-and-down year (mostly down) for the Illini, one of their own had a stellar week. Though it came in a loss, sophomore guard Trent Frazier dropped 30 on the road against Minnesota, then had a more muted contribution of 11 points and 4 rebounds in a win against Nebraska, the Illini’s second in three games. He’s been especially effective from deep, connecting on 8/15 (53%) from three this week. He’s made over 40% of his three’s on the year and combines with Ayo Dosunmu to form one of the more underrated backcourts in the conference.

Eugene Omoruyi, Rutgers

I have been writing this blog for a few years now and this is one of the first times I’ve featured a Rutgers player in this section. But Steve Pikiell has done a remarkable job of coaching and developing these players. Omoruyi is the anchor inside, an undersized but strong forward from Canada. He keyed the win over Indiana with a 14-10 double-double, then put up 19 on 7-11 shooting (64%) to go along with 8 rebounds and 6 assists in a loss on the road to Ohio State. He’s breaking out this season, with 14.2 PPG (up from 7.9 last year) and 7.4 RPG, a stellar number for a 6’7” post player. He won’t get a lot of buzz, but he’s developing into one of the more reliable post players in the league, with 6 double-doubles on the year.

Al Durham, Indiana

The Hoosiers got the big upset of the week in the Big Ten this week in toppling Michigan State on the road without Juwan Morgan for most of the game, and while freshman phenom Romeo Langford scored 19 in that game and 20 against Rutgers earlier in the week, sophomore guard Al Durham was much more efficient, stepping up and netting 25 total points this week on 9-18 shooting. The Hoosiers badly needed someone to step up and provide a consistent third scoring option behind Langford and Morgan, and Durham is showing that he may be the guy. His outside shooting in particular (4-8 this week and 40% on the season) opens up the floor for Morgan and Langford to get to the rim. Maybe even more tellingly, Durham led the Hoosiers in minutes against Rutgers and was second only to Langford against Michigan State, so Archie Miller knows how important this guy is to the team.

Who’s Not

Jon Teske, Michigan

You could make the case for any number of Wolverine players after a pair of sputtering offensive performances this week, but Teske’s was probably the most glaring. In the win over Ohio State, he only made one field goal and ended up with a mere 4 points on 1-4 shooting and only 5 rebounds in 25 minutes. Then, in the loss to Iowa, he battled foul trouble and eventually fouled out after seeing only 13 minutes of action. The 7’1” sophomore is the only true center that sees time for Michigan so they need him on the floor or they will get bullied down low. His inability to stay on the floor proved costly against Iowa’s twin towers of Luka Garza and Tyler Cook.


The Huskers are in a downward spiral after a promising start to the year, and head coach Tim Miles could be coaching for his job. A dry spell turned into an absolute drought with the season-ending injury to Isaac Copeland, as the Huskers shot 32% this week in losses to WIsconsin and Illinois. The shooting has been poor and the lack of depth is severely hampering this team. They are still in the NCAA Tournament picture, but they are well on their way to playing their way off of it. But between [Player: James Palmer Jr.], Glynn Watson, and Isaac Roby, the talent is there to salvage this season.

Top 5 Impact Freshmen

1) Ignas Brazdeikis, Michigan

Though not quite as highly touted as one-time McDonald’s All-American Romeo Langford, Brazdeikis has seen his team rise to the #1 ranking in the nation as they spent a good chunk of the year undefeated before falling to Wisconsin. He leads this top five team in scoring and plays hard-nosed defense for one of the best defensive units in the nation. He can score both inside and out, and, outside of the campus of Duke University, he’s one of the most important freshmen in the nation.

2) Romeo Langford, Indiana

When Langford committed to the in-state school, the Indiana fanbase was electrified. The results have been mixed, but there is no denying Langford’s talent and potential. He leads all freshmen in scoring and still projects as an NBA lottery pick this summer. Only five Big Ten players are scoring at a higher clip than Langford this season.

3) Player: Ayo Dosunmu], Illinois

Dosunmu might be the most highly-touted Big Ten recruit this season after Langford but, as Illinois has struggled for much of the year, he hasn’t received nearly as much national attention. He’s scoring over 14 PPG to go along with 4 RPG and 3 APG on a respectable 44% shooting. He showed flashes of how great he can be with 20 in the big upset of Maryland at Madison Square Garden and 23 in a shocking blowout of Minnesota. He’s not afraid of the moment and has even generated his own NBA buzz. If he stays for next season, however, he could be a program-changing player for the Illini.

4) Daniel Oturu, Minnesota

What a great combination with senior power forward Jordan Murphy Oturu has been. The 6’10” center has been stellar as a rim protector and surprisingly smooth as a post scorer as well. The numbers that stand out most are his 1.6 BPG and his 57% FG percentage. Oturu has 5 double-doubles on the year, an impressive feat when you share a frontcourt with the Big Ten’s second all-time leading rebounder who is there to gobble up all the available boards.

5) Eric Ayala, Maryland

Ayala is a mature, heady player who both plays and looks older than his 19 years. On a roster that includes Bruno Fernando, [Player; Jalen Smith], and [Player: Anthony Cowan Jr.], Ayala’s role has just been to take care of the ball and space the floor, and as a 48% outside shooter, he’s done exactly that. His ability to get to the rim is considerable, too, so he will have a real future in this league as his role grows further.

Power Rankings

1) Michigan State
2) Purdue
3) Michigan
4) Wisconsin
5) Iowa
6) Maryland
7) Minnesota
8) Ohio State
9) Indiana
10) Northwestern
11) Illinois
12) Rutgers
13) Nebraska
14) Penn State

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