Big Ten M5: 02.21.13 Edition

Posted by jnowak on February 21st, 2013


  1. By now it seems fair to say that the Big Ten Player of the Year candidacy is a two-horse race. Michigan’s Trey Burke has been the front-runner since the Wolverines broke out of the gates. Victor Oladipo has been more of a dark horse because he was lesser-known at the beginning of the season, and because most of the Indiana NPOY attention had been focused on Cody Zeller. But a couple big games on the national stage — he’s almost singlehandedly won each game against Michigan State — has perhaps propelled Oladipo perhaps into the top spot for the award. The Big Ten Network‘s Brent Yarina and Tom Dienhart debate the matter, with Yarina voting for Oladipo and Dienhart giving the nod to Burke. What do you say?
  2. There were plenty of opportunities for Michigan State to put away Indiana on Tuesday night in East Lansing, and a few of them came at the charity stripe. Keith Appling, who has been one of the most clutch players in the Big Ten this season but has played horribly against Indiana, missed a few over the course of the game, and Gary Harris missed several as well, most importantly the first of three with the chance to tie the game with a couple of ticks left. But Tom Izzo and the Spartans say the missed free throws aren’t what determined the final outcome of the game. Adreian Payne pointed to a Christian Watford and-one, and Denzel Valentine pointed to Victor Oladipo’s crucial late put-back late. Whatever the final determining factor, those missed free throws sure didn’t help.
  3. With its win against Michigan State in East Lansing, Indiana became the prohibitive favorite to win the Big Ten and, perhaps, the national title. Bob Kravitz writes that the Hoosiers are the best team in the best conference in the country, and it’s hard to argue with that after the body of work they’ve put together over the course of the year. They’ve been impressive both on the road and at home — despite at times proving to be vulnerable — and have the most depth and weapons of any other title contender. People who saw them on Tuesday could see that they have the most pieces that you need to win a title, which is why they are where we thought they’d be at the beginning of the year — at the top. But will they be there in April?
  4. Not to put down a senior who has contributed a great deal to the Wisconsin program over the years, but one of the most puzzling things about watching the Badgers is seeing Bo Ryan sticking with Ryan Evans in favor of standout freshman Sam Dekker during crucial stretches. Wisconsin is in a title chase, after all, and Evans just is not having the type of season you’d expect from someone with so much experience under his belt. Ryan has made it clear he intends to stick with his guy, though, and Evans has said he’s remaining positive while working through his struggles. But as the games become more meaningful, can the Badgers afford to go to him in crunch time?
  5. We know John Groce is new to the Big Ten, so didn’t anybody tell him that the conference has a reputation for playing slower basketball? Perhaps not. And, really, Groce is just another in the line of Big Ten coaches who wants his players to push the basketball up and down the floor. Indiana, Michigan and Michigan State are all teams known to be lethal in the full-court game, and that’s the style Groce is trying to bring to Illinois. Mark Tupper writes that this is getting more players to expand their game, which can only mean good things for the Illini in the long run.
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