I must admit, I was a bit cautious in projecting Michigan this season. Last year’s team became a force over the second half of the season, and the reason was largely the defense’s sudden improvement. It’s not like the Wolverines lost a tremendous shotblocking presence or yeoman rebounder, but I did see a bit of a regression to the mean for John Beilein.
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.
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.