OK, Purdue, whatcha got? The Boilermakers played within a handful of possessions at undisputed Big Ten favorite No. 4 Wisconsin on Wednesday night before losing 62-55. This, after conference victories over the Gophers and Michigan to start the year. Ready for the big time, are they? We'll find out a little more Saturday when the Boilermakers ­— with perhaps the roughest two-game stretch in the league — travel to No. 11 Maryland.

A bite of McIntosh: One Big Ten freshman not many are talking about is Northwestern's Bryant McIntosh, and understandably so with the Wildcats expected to be among the league's worst. But the 6-foot-3 guard has been a steady scorer, reaching double digits in each of the past eight games. After hitting opposite ends of the conference scale with Rutgers and Wisconsin, Northwestern will get its most telling matchup Saturday at East Lansing.

Cooking without Rice: The news of Illinois star senior wing Rayvonte Rice's broken left hand Monday came at a terrible time for the Illini, who were struggling to make good on apparent improvements a year ago. They made a big statement on Wednesday, knocking off No. 11 Maryland at home without Rice. Now, Illinois will try to keep the momentum going when the Illini head to Nebraska on Sunday.