Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, February 22, 2015
Two more weeks. That's all that remains in the 2014-15 Big Ten men's basketball regular season.
With four games left, first-place Wisconsin (25-2, 13-1) is just one win away from clinching a share of the Big Ten crown. The Badgers can make it happen as early as Tuesday, when it travels to Maryland, which is 7-0 at home in Big Ten play.
Now, it's time for my weekly recap of the week that was on the Big Ten hardwood.
Biggest surprise: Northwestern. Not long ago, the Wildcats were riding a 10-game losing streak. Look at NU now, all shiny with a glistening three-game winning streak. The Wildcats have downed Iowa and Penn State at home and won at Minnesota. Hey, the good times may not end there. Northwestern welcomes Indiana next and finishes at Illinois, vs. Michigan and at Iowa.
Biggest disappointment: Minnesota. Just when it looked like the Golden Gophers were turning a corner with a three-game winning streak, Minnesota has dropped three in a row-at Indiana, Northwestern, at Wisconsin. And the misery may continue with games at Michigan State and vs. Wisconsin next.
Top stat line: Maryland freshman point man Melo Trimble scored 26 points on 7-for-9 shooting and made 10 of 11 free throws, while also leading the Terps with six rebounds and five assists in a 69-65 win at Nebraska on Thursday.
On the topic of stat lines, I'd be doing a disservice not to mention Minnesota women's star Amanda Zahui B.'s incredible week. She recorded an eye-popping 39-point, 29-rebound effort in a win over Iowa on Tuesday and followed it up with a 27-point, 27-rebound performance in a double-overtime victory over Michigan on Saturday. Incredible.
Top moment: Members of the Northwestern football team donned helmets and pads at Saturday's game vs. Penn State. It was a really cool scene, and the gridiron stars got to witness and celebrate the basketball team's third straight win, the program's longest Big Ten winning streak since 2011-12.
Top milestone: On Saturday, Wisconsin senior guard Josh Gasser reached the 1,000-point mark with his second basket of the first half. He joins Michael Finley as the only Badgers to reach 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 250 assists.
Top dunk: It doesn?t get any ?dunkier? than the thunder slam by Purdue?s Jon Octeus at Indiana on Thursday. Sit back and watch it again ? and again ? and again.
This Sam Dekker dunk was pretty special, too.
Top message: Tim Miles is disappointed. Very disappointed. He didn't allow his players to meet the press following Sunday's blowout loss vs. Iowa because "They don't deserve to talk for us." He's also barred the players from the team's state-of-the-art facility, which features plenty of perks. Then, there was this from the postgame press conference.
You may have missed this: Even an embarrassing 84-54 loss to Indiana couldn't keep Scarlet Knight from having some fun Sunday night. Check out the mascot's well-executed videobomb of Tom Crean's BTN postgame interview.
Stock up: Maryland. The Terps, who had been rotating wins and losses a couple weeks ago, own a three-game winning streak and are tied for second place, three games behind Wisconsin. Maryland-which has won four of five–isn?t a big, physical team, but it has an array of offensive options. Next up: A huge visit from Wisconsin on Tuesday.
Stock down: Ohio State. The Buckeyes have lost two in a row and are 2-3 in their last five games. Before that, OSU had won three in a row. No shame in losing at Michigan State on Feb. 14. But the loss on Sunday at Michigan stung. The Wolverines entered the game vs. their rival on a five-game losing skid. How good are the Buckeyes?
BIG TEN STARS
Spike Albrecht scored 16 points, pulled down four rebounds, dished out five assists and committed zero turnovers to help Michigan upset No. 23 Ohio State 64-57 on Sunday.
Frank Kaminsky compiled an all-around line, with 21 points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal and three blocks, to help Wisconsin beat Minnesota 63-53 Saturday for its 10th straight win.
Purdue?s A.J. Hammons finished with 20 points, four rebounds and four blocks in a 67-63 win at Indiana on Thursday.
Aaron White had 18 points and 11 rebounds to help Iowa to a 74-46 victory at Nebraska on Sunday.
Bryant McIntosh scored 17 points and visiting Northwestern hit 15 3-pointers to beat Minnesota 72-66 on Wednesday night.
Sam Dekker scored 22 points as No. 5 Wisconsin overcame a late Penn State surge to defeat the Nittany Lions 55-47 Wednesday night.
Branden Dawson had 23 points and 13 rebounds, and Michigan State finished a regular-season sweep of rival Michigan, beating the Wolverines 80-67 on Tuesday.
Vic Law registered his first career double-double (17 points, 11 rebounds) in Northwestern's blowout victory over Penn State on Saturday.
BIG TEN NOTES
Michigan State?s 80-67 win at Michigan was its first in Ann Arbor since 2010.
With Purdue's win at Indiana on Thursday, only Maryland and Wisconsin are undefeated at home in Big Ten play. Interestingly, the Terps host the Badgers on Tuesday night.
Iowa outscored Rutgers (81-47) and Nebraska (74-46) 155-93 in an impressive 2-0 week.
Wisconsin has allowed just three teams to score 70 points or more this season: Duke, Indiana and Penn State.
The Badgers moved to 24-2 with a win at Penn State on Wednesday, giving the program its best start in school annals.
D.J. Newbill had an up-and-down week, erupting for 29 points vs. Wisconsin on Wednesday and just three points vs. Northwestern on Saturday. Entering Saturday, Newbill hadn't scored fewer than 11 points all season.
Maryland?s Melo Trimble has totaled 84 points in his last four games after scoring a combined seven, on zero field goals, vs. Ohio State and Penn State.
Michigan has won four of its last five games vs. Ohio State, which has been ranked each time, in Ann Arbor.
Rutgers, in the midst of an 11-game losing streak, has dropped seven of its last eight games by double-digits. The only loss not by less than 10 was at Indiana on Jan. 31, when it lost by eight.
Indiana played in New Jersey on Sunday for the first time since Dec. 21, 1999, when the Hoosiers defeated North Carolina 82-73 at the Meadowlands.
Wisconsin point man Bronson Koenig has committed just nine turnovers in 459 minutes as a starter.
Wisconsin leads the nation in fewest turnovers at 7.4 per game, a pace that would set a new NCAA Division I record.
Wisconsin 10-game streak is the longest conference win streak since closing the 1940-41 season with 11 straight Big Ten victories.
BIG TEN QUOTES
"I wanted them to not think about the fact that we'd lost 10 games in a row. You've got to stay the course. We have a lot of young players and it can be easy to overreact and do crazy things." – Northwestern coach Chris Collins, after a 72-66 win at Minnesota on Wednesday.
"You can only say that if you can lose the rest of your regular season games and still get in. We cannot do that. Remember, we were 8-5 in the nonconference with a couple of bad losses." – Purdue coach Matt Painter, on his team?s NCAA chances following a win at Indiana on Thursday.
"We had a bad week, and what we needed was to have a good week. It wasn't like we could come in here and play OK but lose. I'm happy for our guys and happy for the program, and it's a good win. The next step to that is to not get complacent." Iowa?s Aaron White, after a 74-46 win at Nebraska on Sunday.
"That was a pretty high-level team. Dawson is at an elite level as far as scoring over people. He played as high up in Crisler as anybody's ever played since I've been here. He really did some great things." – Michigan coach John Beilein, after watching the Spartans? Branden Dawson score 23 points and add 13 boards in an 80-67 MSU win in Ann Arbor.
"When they get a lead, like 10 or 16, it's really like 20 or 30. They really melt the clock, they really share the basketball. They have a lot of good players with high IQ; Bo does a great job." – Penn State coach Pat Chambers, after his team fell, 55-47, to Wisconsin on Wednesday.
"Melo was terrific down the stretch. The kid's just a winner. I've been saying that since we got him. It sure is nice to have him, I'll tell you that." – Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, after a 68-65 win at Nebraska on Thursday.
"We certainly lost to a really good team. That's about as good a team in the country." – Minnesota coach Richard Pitino, after his team lost 63-53 at Wisconsin on Saturday.
"There's a lot of fight. I don't know why you ask that. If it seems like there's not enough fight, we just aren't good enough right now to guard certain things." – Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan, after a blowout loss vs. Indiana on Sunday.</
|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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