Big Ten Morning Five: 02.23.12 EditionPosted by Ryan Terpstra on February 23rd, 2012
- No one was surprised that Indiana was able to easily handle their non-league match-up with North Carolina Central last night. Cody Zeller had another solid game, as the freshman dropped in 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the way. The victory gave IU 21 wins on the year, and with their NCAA ticket punched, the fan base is one again rabid for Hoosier basketball. There is no question that Indiana has great fans, but with some lean years in the first few seasons under Tom Crean, the Crimson and Cream faithful are glad that their program is once again back to meeting expectations.
- One team still looking for a guaranteed invite to the Big Dance is Purdue. Matt Painter is trying to lead the Boilermakers to their 6th straight tournament appearance, but it will be more difficult after the recent dismissal of Kelsey Barlow. The versatile Barlow often guarded the opposing team’s best scoring option, and now Purdue will have to adjust its defensive schemes. One player who has picked up his game recently is Robbie Hummel, who torched Nebraska for 29 points in the team’s 83-65 win last night. With 18 wins and three games left to play, Purdue has to win two of its next three to get to that magic 20-win plateau that many believe will get the team into the NCAA Tournament.
- Michigan’s rise to the top of the Big Ten has been a story worth watching this season. But while young players like freshman point guard Trey Burke and sophomore shooting guard Tim Hardaway, Jr., have been getting the most press, the reason the program has been able to rise back up is also due to the efforts of two seniors. Zach Novak and Stu Douglass were two unheralded recruits that have bought into the John Beilein system, and have made big plays and big shots throughout their careers. The 6’4″ Novak has played out of position (at power forward) his entire career, and still has managed over 1,000 career points. Novak and Douglas also each rank in the Top 10 all-time in minutes played and three-pointers made in Michigan history. They are a big reason why Michigan could win its first Big Ten title in 26 years.
- In a game that probably drew an audience of opposing fans as well as Michigan State fans, the Spartans were able to avoid an upset at the hands of Minnesota last night, 66-61. The Gophers built a big second-half lead but were unable to hang on down the stretch, committing several turnovers and not finding good looks offensively. For MSU, it was another example of being able to adjust and overcome in a difficult situation. Keith Appling had two brutal fouls late in the game, sending a jump-shooter to the free throw line both times, but he atoned, going 6-for-6 from the foul line down the stretch to squash any Gopher comeback attempt.
- The Big Ten regular season has just a few games left and for seniors like Penn State’s Cam Woodyard that means only a few more guaranteed chances to play before the Big Ten Tournament. Woodyard has experienced a lot of ups and downs in his Nittany Lion career; winning an NIT championship as a freshman, and also losing 12 games in a row his sophomore season. He’s stepped his game up this season, and will be a key for Pat Chambers as Penn State tries to mount some late-season magic these next couple weeks.