Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, February 27, 2013
It was a night to remember at Williams Arena. The joint was jumping. In fact, it seemed like the roof was about to blow off the place as Minnesota pushed its way to a stunning 77-73 win over No. 1 Indiana. That?s why my daily links starts right there.
Credit Trevor Mbakwe, who led the way with 21 points and 12 rebounds and also provided much-needed leadership in dominating Cody Zeller. Where has this been during Big Ten play? Indiana coach Tom Crean says the Golden Gophers were more physical than the Hoosiers. He?s correct-no, he?s VERY correct. The stats say so, as Minnesota had 23 offensive rebounds, 40 points in the paint and 21 second-chance points.
The victory renewed hope for a listing Minnesota team that entered the game on a slump and whose NCAA hopes had slide onto the dreaded bubble, having lost eight of 11 games. And the last two defeats-at Iowa and at Ohio State–were brutal, coming by an average of 23.5 points.
But none of that mattered on Tuesday night in the venerable Barn, which was set ablaze by Minnesota?s first win over a No. 1 team since it took down the Flyin? Illini in 1989. It looks like Tubby Smith made the right move by bringing in a psychologist.
That stupefying loss by Indiana? It allowed Michigan to regain control of its own destiny when it comes to winning the Big Ten.
Michigan has four games left: at Penn State; vs. Michigan State; at Purdue; vs. Indiana. Win all four, and the Wolverines will earn at least a share of a second consecutive Big Ten title. Frankly, I like Michigan?s chances.
Wisconsin also benefited from Indiana?s misery, while also augmenting its cause by thumping Nebraska, 77-46, on Tuesday night.
The Badgers can win a share of the league crown if they win their last three games-Purdue; at Michigan State; at Penn State-and Indiana loses one more. It could happen, as the Hoosiers? final game is at Michigan. Stay tuned. This is gonna be fun.
The 30 finalist for the Naismith Award were announced. And several Big Ten players made the cut. Ohio State?s Deshaun Thomas, Michigan?s Trey Burke, Illinois? Brandon Paul, Wisconsin?s Jared Berggren and Indiana?s Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo.
Rick Brown of the Des Moines Register analyzes the season of Hawkeye freshman big man Adam Woodbury.
The verdict: It has been a mixed bag. Brown says sophisticated scouting reports, and Woodbury?s struggles to score over the big, strong post presence most Big Ten teams have, has been challenging. And Woodbury fouls too much. Still, you gotta love the kid?s future working in concert with freshman guards Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons.
Illinois lost some of its mojo with a loss at Michigan on Sunday. And Loren Tate of the Champaign News-Gazette sees an uphill climb for the Fighting Illini next season.
Sure, Tate may be getting ahead of himself. Let?s enjoy the rest of the season, OK? But, it is fun to peek ahead. And the Illini will have a lot to replace in 2013-14. No other Big Ten team has four seniors-Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson, Tyler Griffey and Sam McLaurin–at its top seven spots.
And those four vets have tallied more than half the team?s points and almost half the rebounds. The only other Big Ten squad that relies as much on seniors is Wisconsin, with Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans. The point? Next season could be a rebuilding one for Illinois.
Yes, Michigan State has lost two in a row. But Tom Izzo isn?t panicking. And he thinks the reaction of some to the Spartans? slump is a ?joke."
No doubt, a win at Michigan on Sunday will quell the fears of some. The Spartans last swept the Wolverines during the 2009-10 season.
Purdue?s roster is dominated by some talented youth, including massive center A.J. Hammons. But leadership is needed, too, and freshman guard Rapheal Davis is emerging as the guy to follow.
?He is vocal,? Painter said in the Big Ten teleconference. ?He speaks up. You earn that voice. Guys that do what they are supposed to do and work hard and put time into their game can say something. Any fool can sit in the locker room and say the right things. You have to be able to go out and do what you?re supposed to do.
?He does what he is supposed to, whether he plays well or plays bad. He comes in the next day and shoots and comes in and watches extra film. He does all the little things that a winner does.?
With Nebraska?s Memorial Stadium set to seat more than 90,000 in 2013 following an expansion, the supply of season tickets could meet the demand. And that?s rare in these parts.
A $63.5 million project, to be completed before next season, will add 3,000 regular seats and around 2,100 club seats, in addition to 38 suites. It?s like Christmas in September to Big Red faithful who have been unable to score Husker ducats.
TWEETS THAT MATTER
My take: Yes, Iowa squandered a great opportunity last Saturday by losing at Nebraska. Hard to believe that was the same Huskers team last night that beat the Hawkeyes.
My take: Did Indiana play down to Purdue in its two wins over the Boilermakers this year? Look, Minnesota was just the better team last night. Let?s not overstate things based on one stinking game.
My take: This sums it all up. Can?t wait for that finale on March 10.
My take: (I am nodding my head.)
My take: That should be the case at every program. But, sadly, it isn?t.
My take: Quite a career.
My take: Yep, and Trevor Mbakwe led the way.
My take: So there is that. But why talk now? Just move on, I say.
My take: The court rush is the embodiment of college sports at its core, a massive and youthful burst of energy and enthusiasm.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
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