Big Ten: Round Two

T.R. PetersonCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2009


We learned a few things from the first round of games in the Big Ten.

First, Illinois is the real deal after knocking off Purdue in West Lafayette.

Second, Minnesota and Michigan still have some work to do after getting beat at home by Michigan State and Wisconsin, respectively.

Third, the Big Ten is still the Big Ten and you better protect your home court.

Round two starts this weekend with some interesting match—ups. For a couple teams it’s a must win weekend.

No. 23 Ohio State (10—1, 1—0) at No. 21 Minnesota (11—1, 0—1) Sat. 12:00 p.m. BTN

It doesn’t get any easier for the Buckeyes as they travel to Williams Arena to play the Golden Gophers. Ohio State rebounded from the drubbing they took at the hands of West Virginia to pull out 68—65 slug fest against Iowa. Although Evan Turner did not have an outstanding game, Jon Diebler and William Buford picked up the slack. The Buckeyes will again need someone to step up if they want to stay atop the Big Ten.

Minnesota has caught a lot of attention after upsetting Louisville two weeks ago. However, they ran into a buzz saw in the their Big Ten opener in Michigan State. The Gophers can’t afford to lose another game at home. If they are to have any chance against Ohio State, Ralph Sampson III, Colton Iverson, and Jonathon Williams must step up after getting out rebounded 41—22 by the Spartans.

Penn State (12—2, 1—0) at Wisconsin (9—3, 1—0) Sat. 2:00 p.m. BTN

Penn State has to be thrilled after pulling out their opener against Northwester after shooting only 31 percent from the floor. If they shoot that poorly against the Badgers this game could be over in a hurry. Sophomore Talor Battle continues to play well for the Nittany Lions and poured in a game high 26 points against the Wildcats. Penn State will need another great game from him to have a chance.

The Badgers have been flying under the radar all season. Make no mistake about it, they will have a say in the Big Ten title. Against Michigan, the Badgers shot almost 59 percent from the floor while limiting the Wolverines to just 39 percent. With Marcus Landry and Trevon Hughes leading the way, Wisconsin should roll and return to the top 25.

Indiana (5—7, 0—0) at Iowa (10—4, 0—1) Sat. 4:30 p.m. BTN

Tom Crean knew it was going to be a long road. But after Indiana’s 74-69 loss to Lipscomb last week he didn’t know it would be this long. Freshmen Tom Pritchard and Nick Williams are talented but will take time to develop. In the meantime Hoosier fans, keep up the support.

Although disappointed with the loss at Ohio State in the opener, Todd Lickliter had to be happy with the effort from his team. After being down by as many as 15 in the first half, the Hawkeyes battled back with solid three point shooting from Matt Gatens and Devan Bawinkel. The pair combined to hit 9 of 15 from behind the stripe. Things should be a little easier when the Hoosiers limp into Iowa City this weekend.

No. 15 Michigan State (10—2, 1—0) at Northwestern (8—3, 0—1) Sat. 7:00 p.m. BTN

Northwestern has been a nice surprise this year. Bill Carmody has a young team and they have picked up the Princeton offense awfully well. John Shurna and Kyle Rowley have stepped in as freshmen and contributed right away. The problem is the Wildcats are not very deep and go into offensive droughts for long periods of time. Something you can’t afford to do against Michigan State.

Michigan State has really started playing well with the return of Goran Suton. With Kalin Lucas distributing the ball and Chris Allen and Durrell Summers pumping three’s, the Spartan offense has been rolling. They just don’t want to fall asleep in Evanston.

Illinois (13—1, 1—0) at No. 24 Michigan (9—3, 0—1) Sun. 12:00 p.m. BTN

If the Big Ten coach of the year award was handed out today Bruce Weber would be the unanimous choice. The Fighting Illini are playing as well as anyone and should find themselves in the top 25 with a win at Michigan on Sunday. The sophomore trio of Mike Davis, Mike Tisdale, and Demitri McCamey along with senior Trent Meacham give Illinois great scoring balance. However, it was the play of sophomore transfer Alex Legion off the bench in the upset win at Purdue that raised a lot of eyebrows. If the Illini continue to share the wealth and play unselfish basketball, Michigan will have its hands full on Sunday.

The excitement over Michigan basketball has started to come back to Earth after the disappointing loss to Wisconsin in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines can’t spend any time thinking about that or they will find themselves 0—2 in the conference. Manny Harris must bounce back from his poor performance against the Badgers and the Wolverines need better perimeter shooting to slide by Illinois.