(AP) Adreian Payne scored 12 points in his return from a foot injury, and No. 9 Michigan State kept pace atop the Big Ten with an 82-67 victory over Penn State on Thursday night. Payne hadn’t played since Jan. 7 because of a sprained foot, but although he didn’t start Thursday, he did play 18 minutes, going 5 of 9 from the field.
With so many Big Ten programs constantly beating up on each other this season, how many teams from the conference will receive bids in this year’s NCAA Tournament? That has been one of the most popular questions among Big Ten hoops fans this season.
Ohio State picked up a big road win at Iowa thanks to surprisingly hot shooting. The Buckeyes shot 44 percent on threes, a number that stood in stark contrast to the Hawkeyes’ unusually cold outside shooting (3-for-20, 15 percent). Iowa dominated the glass and shot 60 percent on twos, but the three-point shot is the great equalizer, and it carried Ohio State to a huge win.
Now that all but one team (Nebraska) has officially reached the halfway point of the conference hoops season, it’s time unveil the first installment of my weekly Big Ten Player of the Year tracker. Michigan State’s Gary Harris tops my first list. Agree? Feel free to enter your thoughts in the comment box at the bottom of the post.
We begin to head down the backstretch of the season, as my friends at Big Ten Geeks pointed out earlier this week. If you are like me, getting a clean read on the season makes you as confused as ever. But, don’t worry. Things will begin to crystallize … I think. Here’s my ranking of this week’s men’s basketball games.
Here’s something everyone should be able to agree on: At the midway point of the Big Ten season, the conference title race is down to three teams. The teams are Michigan (8-1), Michigan State (8-1) and Iowa (6-3). The rest of the Big Ten is competing for fourth place and a first-round bye in the Big Ten tourney. Who’s going to win? That’s a tough question, but I’ve broken out the remaining schedule for each contender to try to make sense of it all.