With a little more than a week to go, it has come down to Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan in the race for the Big Ten title. But other story lines exist. Which four teams will secure first-round byes in the Big Ten tourney? The Spartans, Buckeyes and Wolverines look like locks for three of the slots. But who will get the fourth? Wisconsin? Indiana? Purdue? Or, how about white-hot Iowa?
Selection Sunday is March 11. Time is running out for teams to enhance their resumes for an NCAA tourney at-large berth. Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana all look like locks for the Big Dance, with one winning the automatic bid and the others at-large spots. And Penn State and Nebraska appear to be but out.
You have questions, I have answers in my weekly Big Ten mailbag. For instance, why was San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh working at a recent Indiana Hoosiers game? Watch the video to find out. There were plenty of other hoop queries in my mailbag this week with the season winding down. In case you were wondering, the Big Ten tourney kicks off March 8 in Indianapolis. Tickets are available Monday.
Bo Spencer has been a revelation for Nebraska in what is his one and only season in Lincoln. He transferred from LSU where he was a two-year starter, sat out 2010-11 and has proceeded to be the top player on a Cornhusker squad that recently ended a four-game losing skein with an impressive 80-57 demolition of Illinois
Just got off the phone with CBSSport.com’s Dr. of Bracketology Jerry Palm, as I do each and every week. His latest bracket doesn’t include any Big Ten teams as No. 1 seeds, but there’s still time for that to change. Minnesota and Northwestern still cling to Big Dance hopes, but Palm has only one of those two in his bracket.
With his play in recent weeks, Michigan State’s Draymond Green has solidified his hold on the top spot in my weekly player rankings. The senior is a do-it-all talent who’s driven to leave campus standing side-by-side with players like Mateen Cleaves and Magic Johnson as an all-time great en route to leading the Spartans to a Big Ten title and spot in the Final Four. I am not gonna bet against him.
Some interesting games are on tap this week, with the headliner being Wisconsin’s visit to Ohio State on Sunday. Also, front-running Michigan State may face a tough test at Minnesota, where the Gophers are a pesky team. But of all of the contenders, Michigan has the toughest tests in its quest for its first Big Ten crown since Antoine Joubert and his Jheri curl were roaming the court in 1985-86, with a game at Northwestern and a visit from Purdue.
With each passing week, Michigan State is looking more and more dominant. In fact, this past week may have been the Spartans’ best yet, dominating Wisconsin, 69-55, in East Lansing and whipping Purdue, 76-62, in West Lafayette. Michigan State is looking to maintain its one-game lead this week, playing at Minnesota and playing host to Nebraska. Neither game looks threatening to the Spartans, but they must remain vigilant against a letdown.
What a weekend, especially for Michigan, which remains in the hunt for a Big Ten title with that impressive win over Ohio State. Read all about the surging Wolverines’ quest for their first Big Ten regular-season title since 1985-86 and other Big Ten happenings with these links in this post.
Zack Novak is the face of Michigan, the embodiment of what John Beilein is trying to build the Wolverine program into in his fifth year in Ann Arbor. Just watch Novak on the court. The energy, the desire, the passion. And, the production. He’s the inspirational leader of a Michigan team that is 19-7 overall and 9-4 in the Big Ten, very much in the hunt for the Big Ten title.
Purdue suffered a big blow with guard Kelsey Barlow being dismissed from the program and guard/forward D.J. Byrd being suspended for a game. The duo was involved in an incident at a West Lafayette, Ind., bar that resulted in Byrd being arrested on suspicion of public intoxication early Friday. Purdue (17-9 overall, 7-6 Big Ten) plays host to Michigan State on Sunday.