Big Ten Morning Five: 02.03.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on February 3rd, 2012

  1. Tom Izzo‘s affinity for football is well documented — he’s always joked about coaching football, even at Michigan State, and his best friend is former NFL head coach Steve Mariucci — but apparently his passion for other sports extends into the boxing ring, as well. James Dundee, the son of Angelo Dundee, who was Muhammad Ali‘s trainer that died Wednesday at the age of 90, said Angelo and Izzo met once. The two Italians hit it off so well that Angelo never missed a Michigan State game from then on. “He was sitting there saying, ‘That’s my man I-Zo,'” James Dundee said when he happened on his father watching the Spartans on Tuesday. “Once he met Izzo, Dad never missed another Michigan State game.”
  2. If Bill Carmody is concerned about John Shurna‘s minutes, he has a funny way of showing it. The Wildcats played just six men in their 84-74 win against Nebraska on Thursday night, and Shurna played all 40 minutes in the game. Entering Thursday, the senior was averaging 39.2 minutes per Big Ten game, most amongst his conference counterparts. It was Northwestern‘s first win since a January 14 upset of Michigan State when, ironically, the Wildcats got double-digit scoring from four different players.
  3. We’re 23 games into Indiana‘s season and the Indianapolis Star‘s Terry Hutchens still doesn’t really know what to make of this squad. The Hoosiers started the season 12-0 and 15-1 overall, leading many to believe that this team was peaking well ahead of time. Now they’ve fallen back down to earth and haven’t been able to win on the road, so some people are starting to talk about them as an NIT team. Hutchens says they’re more than likely NCAA Tournament-bound but, when such inconsistency is at play, it’s really too hard to make a reliable prediction.
  4. Speaking of Indiana, the Hoosiers will have another chance to finally get a road win — the Hoosiers are 0-31 under Tom Crean in Big Ten games against everyone but Penn State — in an important in-state rivalry game on Saturday at Purdue. The two schools began playing each other in 1901, and there have been some remarkable shifts in power along the way. In the last few years, Tom Crean has struggled while trying to rebuild the IU program as Purdue has thrived under Matt Painter. This season, the time seems to have turned (Indiana is 17-5 and Purdue 15-7), but you can usually throw all of that out the window in a rivalry game like this one.
  5. Ohio State has had absolutely no shortage of talented freshmen under Thad Matta. Is LaQuinton Ross next? The freshman was an ESPNU Top 75 recruit out of high school, but hasn’t had the opportunity to contribute immediately as players like Greg Oden or Jared Sullinger have under Matta. “I’m still part of a great team that has a chance to win the national title,” Ross told the Columbus Dispatch. “I’ve just got to be ready at all times because you never know when Coach Matta might call my number.” Matta has called Ross’ number in five of the Buckeyes’ nine Big Ten games  (he didn’t play at all during the non-conference slate) and, though he has never played more than seven minutes a game, he has scored in each of the last two games he’s appeared in.
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