Big Ten M5: 01.02.13 EditionPosted by jnowak on January 2nd, 2013
- We’ve seen Minnesota get off to hot starts before, but this year is starting to feel a little different. The Gophers got a signature win at home on Monday against Michigan State — which had tormented Minnesota at The Barn in years past — and as Trevor Mbakwe gets back into the mix, the Gophers will only get stronger. Tubby Smith has taken his time to ease Mbakwe back into the playing rotation after he tore his right ACL just over a year ago. Playing without a knee brace for the first time this season, Mbakwe showed off the skills we’ve become used to seeing in the Big Ten the last few years — turning in a double-double and giving the Spartans trouble on both ends of the floor. As ESPN‘s Myron Medcalf wrote afterward, Mbakwe is an emotional guide for this team, which could very well compee for a Big Ten title in the toughest conference in the country.
- As the guys at CBSSports.com look at the Big Ten at the midway point of the season, Jeff Goodman says the conference is the most loaded in America. Illinois and Minnesota have been much better than we ever expected, Michigan and Indiana are surefire national title contenders, and Ohio State and Michigan State are expected to do their usual damage. Goodman takes a good look at the conference with this reset, looking at best match-ups ahead, some of the conference’s top players, and several other interesting news and notes.
- All players have their own unique ways of getting motivated before big games. Some turn to scripture, others use music. Athletes are famously superstitious and their habits are endless. Indiana’s Will Sheehey, for one, takes the bad and turns it into good. Sheehey told the Indianapolis Star that he uses criticism, chants from opposing fans, and negative things he reads about his game to motivate himself. It clearly worked on New Year’s Even in Iowa City, as Sheehey went for 13 points, five rebounds and two assists coming off the bench in a nice Big Ten opener road win for the Hoosiers.
- When it comes to criticism for Wisconsin sophomore Frank Kaminsky, he admits that no one is tougher than himself. Wisconsin players are expected to play hard, and the Badgers are one of those teams that give the Big Ten a bruising reputation. So when Kaminsky feels like he isn’t playing tough enough, he’s usually the first person to tell… himself. “I know that sometimes I play soft,” Kaminsky told Madison.com earlier this week, “and after I make a soft play I kind of mumble to myself about being stupid and how I need to play harder.” He’s an up-and-comer in the program and a guy Bo Ryan points to as one of the most improved in his short time in Madison.
- Once Big Ten play rolls around for Nebraska, the Cornhuskers are going to need as much scoring as they can find from all parts of the bench. If that means more scoring from David Rivers, that could be a huge plus for Tim Miles’ team. The sophomore wing dropped 20 points in the Huskers’ win against Central Michigan last week, after tallying only 20 points his entire freshman season. So the Omaha World-Herald asks, where has that been all this time? “It’s just been bottled up,” Rivers said with a smile. “I hope there are more of those to come.” If Nebraska is to make a reasonable showing in the Big Ten this year, Miles should hope so, too.