Sports editor Jim Rossow's breakdown of the Big Ten:
W L W L IN ONE WORD ...
Michigan 1 0 14 0 Smooth
Indiana 1 0 13 1 Deep
Minnesota 1 0 13 1 Angry
Ohio State 1 0 11 2 Athletic
Wisconsin 1 0 10 4 Stodgy
Purdue 1 0 7 6 Gritty
Illinois 0 1 13 2 Susceptible
Iowa 0 1 11 3 Rising
Michigan State 0 1 11 3 Underwhelming
Nebraska 0 1 9 5 Lousy
Northwestern 0 1 9 5 Hurting
Penn State 0 1 8 5 Hopeless
Purdue at No. 18 Michigan State
11 a.m., BTN
Another chance for Tom Izzo to break a tie with Lou Henson for third-most Big Ten wins. Each legend has 423 and trails only Gene Keady (512) and Bob Knight (662).
Rossow’s pick: Michigan State, 54-51
No. 8 Ohio State at No. 11 Illinois
1:15 p.m., BTN
The Hero of Hoopeston, Thad Matta, has 99 regular season wins in Big Ten play, more than anyone else since taking over in 2004. His overall winning percentage (77.6 percent) also checks in at No. 1.
Rossow’s pick: Illinois, 73-70
Iowa at No. 2 Michigan, 11 a.m., BTN
Melsahn Basabe, limited to 13 minutes in the last two games because of a bum ankle, is good to go. The junior big man had a career-high 25 points against the Wolverines as a freshman.
Rossow’s pick: Michigan, 85-72
Wisconsin at Nebraska, 3:30 p.m., BTN
For the first time maybe ever, the Cornhuskers will look like NBA players. They’ll be in specially designed red jerseys — like the ones the pros wore on Christmas — for the Big Ten home opener.
Rossow’s pick: Nebraska, 49-48
Northwestern at No. 9 Minnesota
6 p.m., BTN
Rodney Williams needs four points to become the 38th Gopher to reach 1,000 in his career. He’ll also join eight other active Big Ten players with at least 1,000, a group that includes a pair of teammates (Indiana’s Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls, Illinois’ Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson).
Rossow’s pick: Minnesota, 70-54
No. 5 Indiana at Penn State, 6 p.m., BTN
Hoosiers are just about scoring (a league-best 87.9 points per game). They’ve held their last four opponents — and eight of nine — to less than 40 percent shooting.
Rossow’s pick: Indiana, 73-51
No. 8 Ohio State at Purdue, 8 p.m., ESPN
Aaron Craft is 12 steals from passing Jay Burson (204) as Ohio State’s all-time leader. The junior will need a little longer to join teammates Deshaun Thomas as a 1,000-point scorer (he needs 291 points).
Rossow’s pick: Ohio State, 69-59
Nebraska at No. 2 Michigan, 6 p.m., BTN
While Illinois is slumping from three-point range, the Wolverines are in a zone. They’ve hit at least 10 threes in three consecutive games to close the gap for the league lead (Illinois had 142, Michigan 125)
Rossow’s pick: Michigan, 77-42
No. 9 Minnesota at No. 11 Illinois
8 p.m., BTN
With two Top 10 teams on tap, it’ll be a challenge for the Illini to extend their streak of four consecutive seasons of back-to-back home wins to start Big Ten play.
Rossow’s pick: Minnesota, 65-64
No. 18 Michigan State at Iowa, 6 p.m., BTN
Despite its quick start, the Hawkeyes have sold out only one game this season at Carver-Hawkeye (Indiana). The empty seats haven’t hurt the team’s play, however, Iowa winning 14 of its last 16 home games.
Rossow’s pick: Iowa, 68-67
Northwestern at Penn State, 6 p.m., ESPNU
Nick Colella has come a long way. A walk-on who made the team through an open-tryout system, the senior was named one of three captains by coach Patrick Chambers.
Rossow’s pick: Penn State, 75-71
Brandon Paul Senior
Tracy Abrams Sophomore
Joseph Bertrand Junior
Nnanna Egwu Sophomore
Tyler Griffey Senior
Rossow’s take: Paul isn’t just a scorer. The senior ranks seventh among active Big Ten players in career rebounds with 442. Better yet, he ranks fourth in career assists with 265.
Big Ten MVP
Trey Burke Michigan
Cody Zeller Indiana
Deshaun Thomas Ohio State
Andre Hollins Minnesota
Brandon Paul Illinois
Rossow’s take: Thomas is on pace to become the 25th Buckeye with 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in his career. The lefty from Fort Wayne, Ind., is 69 rebounds shy of joining the list.
Freshman of the Year
Nik Stauskas Michigan
Glenn Robinson III Michigan
Yogi Ferrell Indiana
Ronnie Johnson Purdue
Gary Harris Michigan State
Rossow’s take: Johnson is one of two plebes starting — and contributing heavily — for Matt Painter, who has the Big Ten’s leading shot blocker (A.J. Hammons) at center. Johnson has started the last four games and has 15 assists in the last three.
Coach of the Year
WELL-DRESSED MAN SCHOOL
John Groce Illinois
John Beilein Michigan
Tubby Smith Minnesota
Fran McCaffery Iowa
Tom Crean Indiana
Rossow’s take: The Gophers haven’t been ranked this high since the 1981-82 season. OK, they were No. 2 in 1996-97, but it doesn’t count because Clem Haskins was cheating.
Sixth Man of the Year
Will Sheehey Indiana
Joseph Bertrand Illinois
Adreian Payne Michigan State
Caris LeVert Michigan
Sam Dekker Wisconsin
Rossow’s take: John Groce will tell you LeVert is the real deal. The 6-foot-5 freshman committed to Ohio but changed his mind after Groce went to Illinois. Michigan planned to redshirt LeVert until he broke into the rotation in early December.
By the numbers
This week: All No. 11
Keith Appling Michigan State
Jermaine Marshall Penn State
Nik Stauskas Michigan
Yogi Ferrell Indiana
Reggie Hearn Northwestern
Rossow’s take: Not only can Appling defend, all of a sudden’s he’s stroking it like Shawn Respert. A 25 percent three-point shooter last season, the sophomore checks in at 37 percent this season.
Teams in the NCAA field
Ohio State Lock
Michigan State Solid
Rossow’s take: Hard to believe Hawkeyes haven’t been in the tournament since 2006 (remember the last-second loss to Northwestern State?) and haven’t won an NCAA game since 2001 (Reggie Evans had 19 points to beat Creighton).