BTN.com staff, March 8, 2012
BTN covers Friday night's quarterfinals of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis live on TV and online. Can't get to a TV? Watch BTN games on BTN2Go. Learn more about BTN2Go here. Final: Michigan State 92, Iowa 75. After the game, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo shared his thoughts on the firing of Illinois' coach Bruce Weber.
Also final: Wisconsin 79, Indiana 71.Tonight on BTN: Michigan vs. Minnesota and Ohio State vs. Purdue. Read the rest of this post for BTN.com Senior Writer Tom Dienhart's previews and predictions for each game. Also we're tracking all games with a live bracket, scores, video highlights, postgame press conferences, in-game updates, and even some instant video analysis. Follow our live blog with BTN.com's Brent Yarina, the Big Ten Geeks and Dienhart as our crew chats from their seats on press row. The live blog is also on BTN's Facebook page. Our entire BTN.com team is also on Twitter.
Looking ahead to Friday, Dienhart took a look at all four Friday games before closing the book on an exciting Thursday of Big Ten hoops.
Key matchup: Iowa?s Bryce Cartwright vs. Michigan State?s Keith Appling. Which point man will get his team?s engine revving loudest, hardest and fastest? Cartwright is a savvy senior who is coming off a good effort vs. Illinois and played well down the stretch. Appling has slowly developed into a nice lead guard in his first season on the job. It?s vital for each to involve teammates.
This season?s meeting: They met just once, as Michigan State claimed a resounding 95-61 win in East Lansing. The Spartans jumped to a 46-24 halftime edge and never looked back, shooting 61 percent and hitting 10-of-18 three-pointers. MSU also forced 21 turnovers, as Draymond Green led the way with 22 points and nine rebounds.
My pick: While I love the way Iowa is playing, winning six of its last 10 games, I still like Michigan State. Some people feel the Spartans? best ball may be behind them. The team has lost two in a row, blowing a shot to clinch the outright Big Ten crown at home on Draymond Green?s Senior Day. And MSU also has lost Branden Dawson, one of the top freshmen in the Big Ten, to a knee injury. Still, I think the Spartans? defense and toughness will help them find a way to win this one.
Key matchup: Wisconsin?s Jordan Taylor vs. Indiana?s Victor Oladipo. You know Hoosier coach Tom Crean will want to mute Taylor. And Oladipo is his best defender. He?s equipped with the length and athletic ability to confound Taylor. And if Taylor is off his game a bit, the Badgers figure to struggle. But slowing Taylor is easier said than done. Yes, his numbers have been off most of the year, but Taylor is a prideful senior who wants to go out with a bang. Taylor also must watch Oladipo, who can be an explosive scorer off the dribble.
This season?s meeting: The teams met just once, with Wisconsin taking a 57-50 decision. In that game, the Badgers used their trademark defense to keep the Hoosiers in check. Cody Zeller had one of his worst games, scoring just seven points with three rebounds. And Indiana made only three three-pointers. Ben Brust led four Badgers in double-figures, notching 13 points.
My pick: I?m officially on the Hoosier bandwagon, if there is room. I love how this team is playing on both ends. Yes, the Badgers are a better defensive team and grittier than Indiana, but the Hoosiers can score in a variety ways going inside and outside to keep Wisconsin off balance. The magic continues for an IU team that has won eight of nine.
Key matchup: It?s got to be Gopher freshman guard Dre Hollins vs. Wolverine freshman guard Trey Burke. Hollins is coming off a spectacular effort in an upset of No. 7 Northwestern that likely trashed the Wildcats? NCAA dreams, dropping 25 points on NU. Burke was accorded Big Ten freshman of the year honors by the media following a stunning debut that saw Michigan win a share of its first Big Ten crown since 1985-86.
This season?s meeting: The teams met once, with Michigan taking a 61-56 decision in Ann Arbor. Trey Burke led the way for the Wolverines with 27 points in a coming out party of sorts. Julian Welch and Rodney Williams each had 11 points, while Ralph Sampson had 10 boards and six points. Williams missed an open look at a tying three-pointer in the final seconds before Michigan iced the game at the line.
My pick: These teams match up well with each other, so I expect a close game. In fact, I wouldn?t be shocked if the Gophers kept it close or maybe even pulled an upset. They have nothing to lose and can play loose. But I do think Michigan has an edge inside with
Josh Jordan Morgan-and they have a better array of polished shooters than Minnesota with guys like Burke, Stu Douglass, Evan Smotrycz and Zack Novak. And that will allow the Wolverines to advance-barely.
Key matchup: Travis Carroll vs. Jared Sullinger. Look for Purdue to use Robbie Hummel on Sullinger, too, as the Boilermakers? only chance is to slow down Sullinger. Purdue got him in foul trouble the last time they met. But if Sullinger is allowed to dominate inside, it will be a long night for the Boilermakers-no matter how well they shoot.
This season?s meeting: The Boilermakers almost pulled off the upset in Columbus in the only meeting of the season, but the Buckeyes took an 87-84 victory. William Buford took control down the stretch en route to scoring a career-high 29 points with Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft in foul trouble. D.J. Byrd scored a career-high 24 points, but it wasn?t enough to prevent Ohio State from winning a 39th straight game at home.
My pick: The Buckeyes are just 4-3 in their last seven games but are coming off that huge win at Michigan State on Sunday that allowed them to share the Big Ten title. The Boilermakers have won six of their last eight games, making them one of the hotter teams in the Big Ten. Ohio State is bigger, better and has more to prove-so look for the Buckeyes to win.
Tom Dienhart is a senior writer for BTN.com an covering the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. Find Dienhart?s work at www.btn.com/tomdienhart, follow him on Twitter at @BTNTomDienhart, send a question to his weekly mailbag here, and click here to subscribe to his overall RSS feed.