Big Ten Game On: 02.25.12 EditionPosted by Ryan Terpstra on February 25th, 2012
Six games this weekend in the Big Ten, and tonight features two of the conference leaders. Let’s get to it.
Purdue @ #11 Michigan, 6 PM, BTN
- The Boilermakers need a win over a ranked opponent really bad. Like, really, REALLY bad. That’s because Purdue is 1-5 against teams in the RPI Top 25 and 4-7 against the Top 50. A win would obviously help those stats out, and possibly put an end to the bubble talk surrounding the Boilermakers’ chances for an invite to the NCAA Tournament. Robbie Hummel is doing his part, shooting 50% from the field and averaging 24.8 PPG over his last four contests. He also dropped a stat line of 16 points, five boards, and six assists the last time these two teams met, and will be expected to lead again. Matt Painter will have to devise a plan to slow down the smoking-hot Wolverines, who have won five of their last six and have yet to lose at home this season. It will be an emotional Senior Night in Ann Arbor, as fan favorites Zach Novak and Stu Douglass will be honored. Douglass hasn’t missed a game in his Michigan career, while Novak was named the program’s first Academic All-American since 1984.
Nebraska @ #8 Michigan State, 8 PM, BTN
- The Huskers head to the Breslin Center in a game that Tom Izzo will certainly not overlook. Michigan State escaped Minnesota this week, battling back from a double-digit second-half deficit to steal a win and hang on to sole possession of first place in the conference. Brandon Wood came up big for the Spartans, scoring 13 points off the bench, and Keith Appling went 6-for-6 from the free throw line to hold off the Gophers late in the contest. Upset-minded Nebraska comes to East Lansing with a 4-11 record in conference (12-14 overall), and a win over MSU would be a nice prize for an otherwise disappointing season. They’ll need a big effort from leading scorer Bo Spencer, who will probably have to go above his 15.6 PPG average.
Northwestern @ Penn State, 9 PM, ESPNU
- The Wildcats are still kicking themselves after losing to Michigan in overtime for the second time this season. They must get the job done at Penn State, as there is no room to waste any opportunity with only a few games left in the regular season. John Shurna, averaging 20 PPG, is one of the best players in Northwestern history, and he’ll be a key down the stretch for Bill Carmody. But road wins are hard to come by in the Big Ten, and controlling PSU stud point guard Tim Frazier (18.5 PPG) will be no easy task. Northwestern’s inability to qualify for the NCAA Tournament is well-documented, and this game kicks off a pivotal stretch in the program’s history.