The weekend is officially here. So that means it’s time for my weekly survey of seven Big Ten hoops writers. This week’s question: Who is the Big Ten’s most underrated player? Check out the responses. No consensus, but some interesting responses.
The season is nearing the halfway point, and the Big Ten race is starting to crystalize. Michigan State, Michigan and Iowa look like prime contenders. Wisconsin, Ohio State and Minnesota are lurking. The other six schools? Well, let’s just say they have a lot of work to do.
This week “The Journey: Big Ten Basketball 2014” airs Sunday at 5 p.m. ET after Illinois plays Indiana on BTN/BTN2Go and we’ve got the stories right here. Come meet Minnesota point guard DeAndre Mathieu, a former walk-on and JUCO transfer who is now flourishing in Richard Pitino’s system – all while honoring a friend. Also, track the long and winding road taken by Champaign native Rayvonte Rice, who wound up at Illinois as one of the leagues’ top scorers.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another for Michigan State. Or, so it seems. News broke late Thursday afternoon that Branden Dawson had broken his right hand and will be out four to five weeks. How did it happen? Dawson slammed his hand on a table in frustration while watching film. He explains in this video. Looks Kenny Kaminski will need to step up as a defender on Glenn Robinson III. Meanwhile, reaction in social media circles has been critical. And that has MSU coach Tom Izzo fuming.
Illinois and Ohio State had their share of misses from the field Thursday night. After all, the Illini shot 41 percent and the Buckeyes came in at 42 percent in the 62-55 Ohio State win. But there was one miss that neither team – nor anyone watching – will forget. That, of course, would be Lenzelle Smith Jr.’s 3-pointer in the second half that got stuck on top of the backboard. The ball remained there until Illinois big man Nnanna Egwu, with the help of a floor mop, jumped up at knocked the ball loose. Watch the scene in this post.
There were two Big Ten men’s hoops games on the docket tonight, and both were filled with plenty of excitement. Ohio State kicked off the evening with a much-needed 62-55 win over Illinois, ending the Buckeyes’ four-game losing skid. Penn State followed with an impressive 58-52 victory over Nebraska, giving the Nittany Lions their first Big Ten win of the season.