It's Thanksgiving week in Big Ten country, which means it's freezing cold.
But if you're one of the lucky Big Ten basketball players, you'll be carving turkey on the beach. Those delightful November tournaments are sending the Hawkeyes to the Bahamas, the Gophers to Hawaii, the Boilermakers to Florida and the Badgers to Cancun.
Speaking of the Badgers, perhaps Frank Kaminsky can continue his hot streak for Wisconsin after dropping a school-record 43 points vs. North Dakota.
So, win or lose, there'll be plenty to be thankful for. Unless, of course, you have to stay behind and watch the snow fall.
Let's just get to the roundup before we all need to go out and shovel.
Illinois Fighting Illini (5-0)
AP Rank: Receiving votes
The Illini had a light week, playing just one tune-up game against Chicago State. It ended in a 77-53 romp, with four Illini in double figures. Forward Jon Ekey led the way with 19 points, as the guard trio of Joseph Bertrand, Tracy Abrams and Rayvonte Rice scored 12 each. Ekey is putting together a nice early season in Champaign after spending the past four years at Illinois State. The 6-foot-7 forward is averaging 10.6 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game, not to mention a 48.1-percent clip from 3-point range. He's scored 19 in each of the last two games.
This week: at UNLV, 9:45 p.m. Tuesday; vs. IPFW, 7 p.m. Friday
Indiana Hoosiers (5-1)
AP Rank: Receiving votes
It was a pretty great showing for the Hoosiers at the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden last week. Indiana scored a huge win over Washington in its first game, blowing out the Huskies by a score of 102-84. Then, the Hoosiers fell by just one in the second game, 59-58, against the No. 18 UConn Huskies. Tom Crean's young Hoosiers showed they can already run with the big dogs (no pun intended). Freshmen Troy Williams was the high scorer vs. Washington, pouring in 22 points and also hauling in eight rebounds, and Noah Vonleh contributed 18 points and nine boards in that winning effort.
This week: vs. Evansville, 7 p.m. Tuesday
Iowa Hawkeyes (5-0)
AP Rank: 23
Thanksgiving in the Bahamas? That's not a bad proposition when the fields of Iowa are freezing cold. The Hawkeyes travel to one of college basketball's most tropical early-season tournaments this week, and they have a chance to play some top-notch competition, as two wins would get them a likely date with No. 2 Kansas. That's a big test in November, but it's one that would be a great opportunity for Iowa, ranked for the first time since 2005-06. The Hawkeyes get Xavier in the first game. Win that, and it's the winner of Tennessee-UTEP. Win that, and it's likely the Jayhawks, though other potential championship-game opponents are Wake Forest, Villanova and USC. Here's hoping we see a battle of the birds and get Hawkeyes-Jayhawks on Saturday.
This week: Battle 4 Atlantis (Nassau, Bahamas) — first game (vs. Xavier), 6 p.m. Thursday; second game (vs. either Tennessee or UTEP), Friday; third game, Saturday
Michigan Wolverines (4-2)
AP Rank: 22
This is doubtfully the way Michigan envisioned the follow-up to their championship-game run beginning. Suddenly saddled with a pair of upset losses to unranked teams, the Wolverines experienced a pair of really entertaining games in Puerto Rico last week. First they battled back for a comeback win against a strong Florida State team, with Nik Stauskas driving the bus in the OT win. But their comeback couldn't be completed in the second game, falling to upstart Charlotte by a bucket as time expired. Perhaps they should try not spotting teams leads they need to come back from. The good news? The emergence of Stauskas, who has scored 20-plus points in each of the Wolverines' last five games and leads the Big Ten in scoring.
This week: vs. Coppin State, 2 p.m. Friday
Michigan State Spartans (6-0)
AP Rank: 1
The No. 1 team in the country is looking like it. The Spartans dispatched of Portland, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma by a total of 45 points last week, cruising to the best showing at the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Brooklyn. The 19-point victory over the ACC's Virginia Tech proved to be the most impressive, with big man Adreian Payne lighting up the Hokies for 29 points and 10 rebounds, plus a trio of blocks. Branden Dawson also chipped in a double-double in that game with 12 and 10. Michigan State's big three — Payne, Gary Harris and Keith Appling — are all averaging more than 16 points per game. It's smooth sailing so far in East Lansing.
This week: vs. Mount St. Mary's, 12 p.m. Friday
Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-0)
AP Rank: Not ranked
Aloha, Gophers! Minnesota gets to escape the frozen tundra of the Twin Cities and spend a few days in Hawaii for the Maui Invitational, but the first thing to greet the Gophers off the plane — aside from the leis, of course — will be the Syracuse Orange, that top-10 team from a different frozen tundra. It's a tough task, but a great chance for an upset, considering Richard Pitino's Gophers might not be all the way thawed Monday. But, if they're going to score an upset win over the No. 8 team in the country and put on a good show in Maui, it'll be thanks in part to Andre Hollins, who somehow ranks only third in the Big Ten in scoring with 18.8 points per game.
This week: Maui Invitational (Maui, Hawaii) — first game (vs. Syracuse), 4:30 p.m. Monday; second game (vs. either Arkansas or California), Tuesday; third game, Wednesday
Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-2)
AP Rank: Not ranked
The Charleston Classic didn't go so well for the Huskers, who lost their first two games to UMass and UAB before beating Georgia. But Tim Miles might have found something in Terran Petteway, who averaged more than 21 points in the three games in Charleston, including 28- and 21-point efforts in the two losses. He also averaged five rebounds a game during the trip to South Carolina. All this week holds in a Saturday-afternoon showdown with Northern Illinois, which should provide the Huskers a good chance at a tune-up before getting Miami in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
This week: vs. Northern Illinois, 12 p.m. Saturday
Northwestern Wildcats (3-2)
AP Rank: Not ranked
The Wildcats answered a 1-2 start with a pair of wins last week vs. UIC and IUPUI. Amidst all those acronyms, Northwestern had another bad game in the meeting with IUPUI, eventually only winning the game by a bucket. JerShon Cobb needed to get a basket in the final seconds to push the Cats past the Jaguars, a game Northwestern was losing at halftime. Drew Crawford is still managing to put up good performances, and he's averaging 16.6 points per game and eight rebounds a game. But things get real tricky this week, as the Cats head to Las Vegas for battles with good teams in Missouri and No. 19 UCLA.
This week: vs. Gardner-Webb, 7 p.m. Monday; Las Vegas Invitational (Las Vegas) — vs. Missouri, 9:30 p.m. Thursday; vs. UCLA, 10:30 p.m. Friday
Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0)
AP Rank: 7
A light week for the Buckeyes featured an easy win over American, and that should continue this week with scheduled games against Wyoming and North Florida. Ohio State already scored its signature non-conference win by beating a ranked Marquette team on the road, so aside from the Big Ten/ACC Challenge game against Maryland — and a date in New York with Notre Dame — it should be relatively smooth sailing until conference play for a team that keeps climbing up the top-25 rankings. A good sign for the Buckeyes moving forward: The scoring is really spread out. Shannon Scott leads the way, averaging 12.5 points per game, but he's one of five players averaging more than 9.5 points each night for this experienced team.
This week: vs. Wyoming, 6 p.m. Monday; vs. North Florida, 4 p.m. Friday
Penn State Nittany Lions (4-1)
AP Rank: Not ranked
From what we've seen so far, the best chance for multiple All-Big Ten selections is not Michigan State or Ohio State or Wisconsin but Penn State, a team that boasts two of the conference's best players in guards Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill. Newbill and Frazier rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in the conference in scoring, both averaging more than 18 points per game. Frazier also leads the Big Ten with 7.4 assists per game. So what's the deal? With these two, the Lions shouldn't be near losers against LaSalle (though the Explorers were a tournament team a season ago). Challenges from major conferences present themselves this week as Penn State travels to Brooklyn.
This week: vs. Monmouth, 5 p.m. Tuesday; Barclays Center Classic (Brooklyn, N.Y.) — first game (vs. St. John's), 6 p.m. Friday; second game (vs. either Georgia Tech or Ole Miss), either 2 or 4:30 p.m. Saturday
Purdue Boilermakers (5-0)
AP Rank: Not ranked
The Boilermakers haven't lost yet this season, but that luck will likely run out when they go up against the No. 5 team in the country in the first game of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando this week. Oklahoma State is not just steamrolling everyone, but the Cowboys boast arguably the nation's best player in Marcus Smart. Though the heightened competition could prove too much for Purdue to handle, Matt Painter has his own secret weapon. A.J. Hammons continues to pile up the put-backs, blocking an average of 4.5 shots per game. Against Siena on Sunday, he swatted six shots. Wow.
This week: Old Spice Classic (Orlando, Fla.) — first game (vs. Oklahoma State), 11 a.m. Thursday; second game (vs. either Butler or Washington State), Friday; potential third game, Sunday
Wisconsin Badgers (6-0)
AP Rank: 10
The newly minted top-10 team grabbed a whole mess of headlines last week thanks to the gigantic win over North Dakota that saw the Badgers score 100 points in a game for the first time since 1995 and Frank Kaminsky drop a school-record 43 points. Kaminsky made 16 of the 19 shots he took, including splashing home five 3-pointers. The dismantling of North Dakota saw three other Badgers reach double digits in scoring. The reward? Though previously scheduled, Wisconsin gets to spend Thanksgiving week in Cancun. Viva los Badgers.
This week: Cancun Challenge (Mexico) — first game (vs. St. Louis), 7:30 p.m. Tuesday; second game (vs. either West Virginia or Old Dominion), either 6 or 8:30 p.m. Wednesday