The upside down world that has become Big Ten basketball continued over the weekend. The latest installment of craziness was unranked Indiana’s home win over No. 10 Michigan, the last Big Ten squad unbeaten in league play. Who saw this coming? This was a Hoosiers club that had lost three of four—including a home loss to Northwestern and a loss at Nebraska–coming into the meeting yesterday. Don’t try to understand it. Just enjoy it.
Yogi Ferrell played out-of-this-world, playing lock-down defense on Nik Stauskas while pouring in 27 points behind a career-high seven three-pointers. Does this team still have NCAA life? Michigan will be dancing. It’s just a matter seeding. But it must get its offense back on track after scoring a season-low 52 points.
In some ways, having the burden of being unbeaten in the Big Ten is gone for Michigan. And, that can be a good thing.
Iowa almost became another casualty in this insane season, blowing a 21-point lead at Illinois on Saturday before rallying for the program’s first win in Champaign since 1999. The win gives the Hawkeyes some wiggle room as the second half of the season gains steam.
Iowa has three Big Ten losses; Michigan and Michigan State each has one. The Hawkeyes can make up some ground when Michigan visits this week. Iowa needs to keep showing the grit and toughness it displayed in Champaign.
If you are confused by what’s going on at Wisconsin, you aren’t alone. A once-productive offense has disappeared.
The latest loss was to visiting Ohio State, which arrived in Madison slumping as bad as the Badgers by losing five of six games. It was the second game in a row the Badgers struggled to put the ball in the bucket in a game they really needed to win at home. Up next is a visit to Illinois. Could Wisconsin lose to an Illini team that’s in a free fall with seven losses in a row?
While Wisconsin continues to reel, Ohio State can breathe a sigh of relief. In fact, the Buckeyes may have saved their season with the win at Wisconsin. Without a doubt, it was the Buckeyes’ best win of the season—a signature victory for an NCAA resume that lacked any pizzazz. OSU’s new mantra? “We forgot.”
Yes, I try the “I forgot” line at home. And, it usually doesn’t work. But, maybe it will for the Buckeyes, who need to gain some mojo down the back half of the season while forgetting. We will see how well Ohio State “forgets,” as it plays a big game at Iowa on Tuesday. And after a visit from Purdue, the Buckeyes welcome Michigan.
I’m still am wondering why Michigan State scheduled that game with Georgetown in Madison Square Garden on Saturday. Oh, well. It’s too late now. The game is over, and Michigan State lost, giving it two losses in the last three games. The defeat doesn’t impact the Spartans in the Big Ten race, but it hurts them in a battle for a No. 1 NCAA seed.
The great Mike Griffith of Mlive.com has some observations from the loss to the Hoyas. Chief among them: MSU needs to hit its free throws. And Keith Appling is the most valuable Spartan. Sorry, Gary Harris. But this team would be in a whole world of hurt sans Appling, who has excelled despite playing with a cranky wrist.
MSU A.D. Mark Hollis loves to put together special events for the Spartans to play in. And, it looks like he has another up his sleeve.
BTW: It sounds like Mark Dantonio has a raise coming to around, say, $3 million per season. Nice to see.
Yes, Penn State is rolling. In fact, the Nittany Lions have the longest winning streak in the Big Ten. The latest win was vs. Purdue.
But football talk always is bubbling near the surface in State College, Pa. What are the team’s biggest needs heading into the spring/summer?
How about finding a go-to wideout with Allen Robinson gone? That’s what Bob Flounders of Pennlive.com thinks. And, I’m not gonna argue with that. Maybe Eugene Lewis is the guy. If that wasn’t bad enough, PSU also loses key cogs up front on offense (John Urschel) and defense (DaQuan Jones). Plenty to watch in James Franklin’s first spring drills.
The beat (and losing) goes on for Purdue, which has lost four in a row. That’s the program’s longest losing skein since Matt Painter’s first season in 2005-06. That first Painter team had little-to-no talent. This Painter team is supposed to have talent. You figure it out. I’m done trying. Watch Painter talk about the loss at Penn State.
If you care to, look at the Boilermakers’ remaining schedule. How many more “wins” do you see?
TWEETS THAT MATTER
My take: The Nittany Lions have the longest winning streak in the Big Ten. Amazing.
My take: It is sad Carroll could trash USC and bolt to the pros.
My take: And, it worked.
My take: This, ladies and gentlemen, is called “spin.”
|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.|
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