Big Ten Morning Five: 02.04.12 EditionPosted by jnowak on February 4th, 2012
- Breathe easy, Michigan State fans — it looks like senior captain Draymond Green will be able to go on Sunday against rival Michigan. The Spartans are coming off a one-point loss at Illinois this week (Green left the floor with a knee injury with just under four minutes remaining and did not return), and dropped a one-point contest in Ann Arbor on January 17. It’s a must-win for the Spartans if they want any chance at a share of the Big Ten title, and it seems improbable that they’d be able to do it without Green. In addition to unquestionably being the heart and soul of the group, Green also currently ranks in the top 15 among Big Ten players in nine categories.
- Good news for Big Ten basketball fans: Game tickets are in extremely high demand. Bad news: They’re in such high demand that scalpers have gone to lengths to reproduce counterfeit tickets. According to Bob Baptist of the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio State officials have warned fans that there are a number of counterfeit tickets circulating, particularly for Ohio State’s February 11 game against Michigan State and late-February game against Wisconsin (both are sold out).
- In much more uplifting conference news, four Big Ten players were honored as an NCAA Division I Academic All-District selection by the College Sports Information Directors of America. Michigan’s Zack Novak, Ohio State’s Aaron Craft and Northwestern’s Drew Crawford were recipients out of District 5, and Wisconsin’s Jared Berggren was a recipient out of District 6. Craft is second in the conference in assists and first in steals, Crawford is averaging 17.4 points per game, Novak averages 33.6 minutes per game and Berggren is averaging 10.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.
- They say it’s not how you start, but how you finish. If that’s the case, Indiana has some work to do on both. The Hoosiers fell victim to a disastrous beginning and end of their game against Michigan this week, resulting in yet another Big Ten road loss for Tom Crean. Michigan led by as much as 20 before Indiana snapped out of it and eventually narrowed the margin to two. But Michigan controlled the late stages of the game, as well, resulting in the double-digit margin of victory. One thing is for sure: If Indiana is to start closing road games, a fully efficient 40 minutes will be necessary.
- There was an important change at the top of the Minnesota athletic department this week, as Joel Maturi announced his retirement as athletic director. But fifth-year Golden Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith told the Star Tribune that he doesn’t expect the shift at the top to affect his job status as head coach. “Oh, I’ll be back here,” Smith told the paper. “[University President] Dr. [Eric] Kaler and I have visited some early in the year. Certainly this is the right place for me and my family. … We’ve had our share of mis-steps and disappointments, losses, injuries and departures. All those things go into play when you start to make decisions, but I expect to be back here.” Smith, who won the national championship in his first year at Kentucky in 1997-98, is 96-56 in a somewhat tumultuous tenure at Minnesota. The Gophers are 16-6 this season, but have been without double-double machine Trevor Mbakwe since November 27.