If you aren’t on it already, you may want to jump on the Michigan bandwagon before it hits 88 mph and vanishes. The Wolverines are legit, notching another big win last night. This time, hard-charging and high-flying Iowa was the victim, as the Wolverines moved to 6-0 in the Big Ten. And, they are doing all of this without injured Mitch McGary, out with a back injury. Oh, and Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr., also are gone. It’s incredible, really.
That’s back-to-back wins over top-10 teams for the first time since 1992. Even better: This sets up a huge showdown on Saturday between Michigan and Michigan State—7-0 in the Big Ten–in East Lansing. It also sets up a clash between childhood pals Gary Harris and Zak Irvin.
Each guy is a native of Indiana. I wonder how this makes Purdue and Indiana fans feel as their programs struggle. Exactly.
And this storyline looms over the big Michigan-MSU tilt: Will Spartans big man Adreian Payne play? The big fella has missed the last four games with a foot injury.
“Payne is a day-to-day deal,” Tom Izzo said late Tuesday night. “He’s run twice. I don’t know (if he’ll play versus U-M). I don’t know. I don’t think he’s playing, right now. He wants to play. I got the toughest coaching decision in my life to make as far that goes. Doctors have done their job, everybody else has done theirs.
“Me and him are going to sit down and talk about pain and talk about whether it would be right or it would be wrong.”
Can the Spartans beat the Wolverines sans Payne? I don’t think so. But, that’s just me.
|Big Ten Standings (as of 1/23)|
|View Full Standings|
Yes, Iowa lost. But, I still like the Hawkeyes. Turnovers, poor shooting and lack of production from the benched doomed Iowa in Ann Arbor.
So, that’s two Big Ten losses for the Hawkeyes. No worries. At least Iowa has road games at Wisconsin, at Ohio State and at Michigan behind it. Look for the Hawkeyes to get some mojo going again. By the way: Iowa still has a game at Michigan State on March 6 that could be a biggie.
Great win for Minnesota on Wednesday night, as it dumped a slumping Wisconsin club that has lost three in a row. Things started ominously for the Gophers, as star guard Andre Hollins went down with an ankle injury 16 seconds in. But, that allowed guys like DeAndre Mathieu, Malik Smith, Austin Hollins and Mo Walker to step up.
The poor, poor Badgers. They have gone from unbeaten national darling to, well, a team filled with doubt that can’t defend.
How bad has the Badger defense been? The last three foes have combined for 126 points in the paint. That’s an average of 42.0 per game by Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota. Remember when the Badgers could play defense? (Sigh.)
Illinois coach John Groce got hot in last week’s loss vs. Michigan State. Recall that? Sure you do! Chucked his jacket, got a T? Well, turns out, he thinks he was out of hand and has apologized.
Hard to blame Groce for being agitated. I would be, too, if my team was riding a four-game losing skid.
The gang at Cleveland.com tries to answer six questions that are nagging the struggling Ohio State hoop team. Good luck with that.
To summarize: The Buckeyes aren’t playing team defense, they look lackadaisical, their coach questioned their mental toughness, they have no inside presence, there’s not much of a bench and they can’t shoot. Other than that, things are peachy-keen in Columbus.
Remember that foot injury that ruined the season of Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez? Looks like the mystery has been solved.
Now, what about Martinez’s future? His personal quarterbacks coach believes Martinez can play quarterback in the NFL, although he’d like him to work more on throwing with his “core.” The QB guru said Martinez has the aptitude to play the position in the league. Good, because he’s probably gonna have to change positions if Martinez wants to be paid to play.
Know this: PSU can have 75 scholarship players by the time camp starts in August. That’s pretty big. The max is 85. So, as you can see, the program is moving closer to a return to normal numbers.
TWEETS THAT MATTER
My take: The guy is a stud. But, he isn’t on the Wooden Award midseason watch list. Whatever.
My take: May have been the best offensive lineman in the Big Ten last year.
My take: Gonna be a great game on Saturday in East Lansing.
My take: Adds to the awesomeness.
My take: Two-team race—for at least this week. Stay tuned.
My take: Yes, he can.
My take: Should be very telling, indeed.
My take: Impressive depth for this surprising team.
My take: Stay tuned … and hold your breath.
My take: So there is that.
My take: This is, um, bad.
My take: I’m guessing not good after a third loss in a row.
My take: This is a big game for both Wisconsin and Purdue. REALLY big.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.