The calendar says February, and the sense of urgency builds for teams with NCAA dreams. Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana look like locks. But Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota and Northwestern? Work must be done down the home stretch.
Last Tuesday, we watched Illinois and Michigan State fight it out to a 42-41 final. A week later, Ohio State and Purdue matched that point total on the first possession of the second half in an entertaining 87-84 Ohio State win. Both teams used outstanding three-point shooting and minuscule turnover rates to power themselves above 1.30 points per trip, marking a season-high output for both sides.
For the fifth consecutive year, BTN will televise seven winter Big Ten Championships, including men’s and women’s swimming and diving, wrestling, men’s and women’s indoor track and field and men’s and women’s gymnastics. Every event will be produced in high definition, including live coverage of the entire Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Championships, the final rounds of the Big Ten Wrestling Championships and the final session of the Big Ten Women’s Gymnastics Championships.
(AP) William Buford scored a career-high 29 points and capped his night with a pivotal dunk in the final minute to power No. 3 Ohio State past Purdue 87-84 on Tuesday. The win was Ohio State’s 40th in a row at home – since losing to Purdue two years ago at Value City Arena. Buford scored 21 points in the second half to carry the Buckeyes (21-3, 9-2) while Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft were on the bench with foul trouble. He scored seven straight points as Ohio State took the lead for good. D.J. Byrd, averaging 6.5 points a game, had a career-best 24 for the Boilermakers (15-9, 5-6), while Kelsey Barlow and Lewis Jackson had 14 each and Robbie Hummel added 13.
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Blessed with unreal athleticism and great genes, Purdue’s Kelsey Barlow is no stranger to making his way onto the highlight shows. The junior has his frustrating moments, no doubt, but he can drop a lot of jaws if given the opportunity. Barlow did just that Tuesday night when he posterized preseason Big Ten player of the year Jared Sullinger in a narrow loss at No. 3 Ohio State. The dunk drew rave reviews from the ESPN crew, with Mike Tirico saying in amazement, “That is pretty special.” Indeed. Watch the dunk now and see Barlow’s other big slam in this post.
Jared Sullinger, Draymond Green. Draymond Green, Jared Sullinger. The player on top of my weekly player rankings seemingly changes each week. And it may continue to flip-flop the rest of the month, too. For now, I have to go with Sullinger, given his sterling effort in Ohio State’s first win at Wisconsin since 2000 and the fact Green hurt his knee in a loss at Illinois.
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The 2012 Big Ten softball season is set to begin this week with 10 teams taking to the diamond on the opening weekend of play. Nebraska opens the season on Thursday, while Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State and Penn State begin on Friday, and Minnesota opens its season on Saturday. Wisconsin begins the new year on Feb. 17, and Purdue opens its season on Feb. 18.