Tom’s Take: Honors, stock watch, top performers, notes & quotes

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Tom’s Take: Honors, stock watch, top performers, notes & quotes

An eventful week saw Wisconsin sew up at least a share of the Big Ten title, the program’s first piece of a regular-season hardware since 2008. One more victory, and Wisconsin is the outright champ.

Here’s a look at the week that was as the Big Ten season steams to the finish line.

Biggest surprise: Northwestern. Yes, the Wildcats got clubbed at Illinois by 26 points on Saturday. But that doesn’t diminish the fact that, earlier in the week, the Wildcats knocked off Indiana to bring a four-game winning streak into the blowout loss at Champaign. It was NU’s longest Big Ten winning streak since 1967.

Biggest disappointment: Michigan State. It just isn’t meant to be for the Spartans, who didn’t fulfill expectations last year, either. The Spartans figure to make the Big Dance, but they may cross the finish line running on fumes. MSU has dropped its last two games and looks very ordinary.

Top stat line: Frank Kaminsky vs. Michigan State. Kaminsky torched the Spartans with, well, a Kaminsky-like line, shooting 11-of-17 (65 percent) and putting up a season-high 31 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals.

There were some other good lines, too. A few of my other top ones include: Maryland’s Dez Wells hit 9-of-17 shots—and all seven of his free throws—for 26 points with four assists and seven rebounds in a 59-53 win vs. Wisconsin on Tuesday. How about Iowa’s Aaron White? He tallied a career-high 29 points and pulled down nine rebounds in a 68-60 win vs. Illinois on Wednesday, before registering a double-double (21 points, 14 rebounds) in an overtime win at Penn State.

Top moment: The Maryland court storm after the win Tuesday night vs. Wisconsin was a sight to behold. So was the student body’s flash mob. We’ll go with the latter.

The Badgers going into the stands Sunday to celebrate their first Big Ten crown since 2008 was pretty cool, as well.

Top dunk: Dez Wells’ driving one-hander vs. Wisconsin. This dunk wasn’t only pretty and powerful, it helped the Terrapins seal their biggest win of the season.

Not to be ignored, this Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman jam at Maryland was something pretty.

Did you see this? Following Maryland’s victory over No. 4/5 Wisconsin on Tuesday, Bo Ryan interrupted Mark Turgeon’s postgame press conference. Ryan waltzed in and stole the show because no one came to get him to conduct his media responsibilities and the Badgers had a flight to catch. Speaking of the flight, it had to make an emergency landing in Pittsburgh, where Wisconsin spent the night before arriving home Wednesday.

NBA note: The owner of a pair of triple-doubles at Ohio State, Evan Turner registered his first NBA triple-double in Boston’s win over New York on Wednesday.

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STOCK WATCH

Stock up: Maryland. The Terps hit a mid-winter lull in February, going 2-3 from Jan. 22-Feb. 8. But since then, Maryland has ripped off five wins in a row to solidify itself as the second-best team in the Big Ten. Along the way, freshman point guard Melo Trimble has averaged 19.8 points, five rebounds and 3.6 assists.

Stock down: Indiana. The Hoosiers looked like one of the Big Ten’s top teams after a four-game winning streak that was capped with a home win vs. Maryland on Jan. 22. But since then, the Hoosiers have gone 4-6. Is IU playing itself onto the NCAA bubble?

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STARS

Aaron White scored a career-high 29 points to lead Iowa to a 68-60 win over Illinois on Wednesday night, and he added an impressive double-double (21 points, 14 rebounds) in an overtime win at Penn State on Saturday.

D’Angelo Russell scored 28 points to lead Ohio State, which rebounded from a 12-point deficit, to a 65-61 victory over Purdue on Sunday night.

Carlos Morris made a tying 3-pointer while being fouled with 2.2 seconds left in regulation, and although he missed the ensuing free throw, Minnesota controlled the overtime for a 96-90 win over Michigan State on Thursday night.

Frank Kaminsky scored 31 points in his final home game, and No. 5 Wisconsin clinched at least a share of the Big Ten regular-season title with a 68-61 victory Sunday over Michigan State.

Dez Wells scored 26 points, and No. 14 Maryland held off fifth-ranked Wisconsin 59-53 Tuesday night, ending the Badgers’ 10-game winning streak and ruining their bid to clinch a share of the Big Ten regular-season title.

Melo Trimble scored 19 points, and No. 14 Maryland beat Michigan 66-56 Saturday to complete an undefeated season at home in the Big Ten.

Jae’Sean Tate scored a career-high 22 points to lead Ohio State past Nebraska 81-57 on Thursday night, the Cornhuskers’ sixth loss in a row.

Tre Demps scored 23 points and sparked a decisive second-half run as Northwestern claimed a 72-65 Big Ten victory over Indiana on Wednesday night.

Rayvonte Rice scored 19 points in his return to the starting lineup to handle Northwestern, 86-60.

Basil Smotherman scored a career-best 17 points Thursday night, leading Purdue to a 92-85 victory against slumping Rutgers.

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NOTES

NU’s win vs. Indiana on Wednesday was its fourth in a row in Big Ten play. The last time Northwestern had a four-game Big Ten winning streak? 1967.

Wisconsin saw a 10-game winning streak end with a loss at Maryland on Tuesday. The Badgers’ winning streak was their longest since an 11-game run in 1941 to win the national championship. Wisconsin hadn’t lost since Jan. 11 at Rutgers.

The Hoosiers lead the all-time series with Northwestern, 112-49, but the Wildcats have won three of the last four, including a 61-56 victory on Feb. 22, 2014 in Evanston.

On Wednesday vs. Illinois, Iowa’s Aaron White surpassed B.J. Armstrong for fourth on Iowa’s all-time scoring with an alley-oop dunk late in the first half. More White: He has the country’s highest percentage of points scored from free throws (38 percent; 168 of 446 points).

On Saturday at Maryland, the Wolverines played their 10th straight game without injured star Caris LeVert and eighth without Derrick Walton Jr. Michigan is 3-7 without LeVert.

Minnesota ended a 15-game losing skid in East Lansing on Thursday that dated to 1997 with a 96-90 overtime win.

Purdue’s A.J. Hammons‘ field goal with 13:37 remaining in the second half vs. Rutgers on Thursday gave the junior 1,001 career points, becoming the 16th active Big Ten players with at least 1,000. RU’s Kadeem Jack also passed the 1,000-point barrier in the game.

Matt Painter earned his 100th Big Ten win by beating Rutgers on Thursday. He is the 20th to achieve that milestone in conference history. Painter is in his 10th season at Purdue, his alma mater.

Penn State has lost 10 Big Ten games by nine points or fewer.

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QUOTES

“I’ve never been more impressed with a player in our league since maybe Big Dog (Glenn Robinson).” – Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, on Wisconsin 7-footer Frank Kaminsky, who tallied 31 points vs. his Spartans on Sunday.

“I think we should have lost. We played terrible in the last four minutes.” – Purdue’s Rapheal Davis, after a 92-85 win vs. Rutgers on Thursday

“He’s not going to let us lose.” – Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, on Dez Wells, who scored 26 points in a 59-53 win vs. Maryland on Tuesday.

“It would have been real easy to say, `You know what? Let’s wait `til next year.’ (But) we really wiped the slate clean. (Now) we’re playing well. The guys are confident. There’s nothing like winning. It builds confidence.” – Northwestern coach Chris Collins, after the Wildcats’ 72-65 win vs. Indiana on Wednesday.

“We’ve got a long way to go but that was big. If (Carlos Morris) hits a free throw (which would have won the game in regulation) I might have cut down the nets, but that’s OK.” – Minnesota coach Richard Pitino, after an overtime win at Michigan State on Thursday

“I had this weird feeling before the game that something special was going to happen tonight. I was just in the zone.” – Iowa’s Aaron White, after scoring a career-high 29 points in a win vs. Illinois on Wednesday.

“They played like a desperate team, a hungry team fighting for a win, and they got what they deserved.” – Northwestern coach Chris Collins,  on Illinois, which beat his Wildcats, 86-60, on Saturday.

“I feel bad for these kids. They played their hearts out today. You make 10 3s and have four guys in double figures; we need to win that game. Some of the stuff that happens to us is amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it.” – Penn State coach Pat Chambers, after an 81-77 home overtime loss to Iowa on Saturday.

“First, I thought you were talking about a concert guy. Cekovsky, I remember him from music class. No, he’s a good player.” – Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, on Maryland reserve Michal Cekovsky

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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