After the injury to Trevor Mbakwe, I fully expected this to be somewhat of a “what if?” season for the Gophers. And that certainly appeared to be the case through four conference games, as Minnesota stumbled to a 0-4 start in the Big Ten. But Tubby Smith’s team has responded by winning three straight games, most recently in a stomping of Northwestern at The Barn. And although Minnesota had dropped some close games over its losing streak, the turnaround isn’t simply a matter of fortunate ball bounces:
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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — January is about to melt into February. Winter has set in, but spring isn’t that far out of sight. And neither is the NCAA tourney. Wisconsin knows that. So does Illinois. That’s what made today’s game so huge, as a topsy-turvy Big Ten races was about to take another step toward perhaps making some sense. Or, maybe not.
No. 13 Indiana took down Penn State (recap), Wisconsin held off No. 25 Illinois (recap | Dienhart column) and Minnesota dropped Northwestern (recap) in a BTN tripleheader Sunday. Catch up on all the action on our Big Ten scoreboard and get stats, video and recaps in this post. Also, did you see Rodney Williams’ acrobatic And-one play and his impressive slam dunk? Watch them here.
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After a long break in which it moved into first place, Illinois saw its offense lay an egg in a losing effort at Penn State. It was clear that, despite the rousing win over Ohio State, this is still the same Illinois team we’ve watched all season. Let’s again roll out what we’ll have to start calling the Illini table:
While I wait for some Big Ten team – any Big Ten team – to take charge of this way-crazy, makes-no-sense Big Ten race, it’s time for this week’s 3-pointers from a cornfield somewhere outside Decatur, Illinois, on I-72.
With Wednesday night’s game against Northwestern well in hand late in the second half, Wisconsin’s Ryan Evans provided quite the highlight with a powerful alley-oop. On a night when the Badgers did a majority of their damage from downtown (12 of 23; 52 percent), it was Evans and his zero 3-pointers who carried the load. The junior scored a team-high 17 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds in the easy 77-57 victory at the Kohl Center. And then there was that late alley-oop. Also, let’s not forget Jordan Taylor’s perfect pass to make it all possible. Watch it now.