W L W L IN THE NBA THEY’D BE THE ...
Michigan 3 0 16 0 Clippers (long highlight reels)
Minnesota 3 0 15 1 Heat (physically fit)
Indiana 2 0 14 1 Thunder (scoring fools)
Wisconsin 2 0 11 4 Spurs (slow but effective)
Michigan State 2 1 13 3 Knicks (sharp elbows)
Ohio State 2 1 12 3 Hawks (won’t win a title)
Illinois 1 2 14 3 Pacers (excellent coaching)
Northwestern 1 2 10 6 Cavaliers (long way to go)
Purdue 1 2 7 8 Mavericks (time to rebuild)
Iowa 0 3 11 5 Nets (up-and-comers)
Nebraska 0 3 9 7 Bobcats (mathematically eliminated)
Penn State 0 3 8 7 Wizards (with the first pick ...)
Want to know which of this week’s games are worth a look? Here’s the scoop from sports editor JIM ROSSOW, who went 8-3 last week and has demanded Marcus Jackson’s spot as Illinois Prognosticator (see his miserable prediction record, C-3):
No. 8 Minnesota at No. 5 Indiana, 11 a.m., BTN
Both teams are in the Top 10 because of their balance. Indiana is the only Big Ten team with five players averaging in double figures (Cody Zeller, 16.5; Victor Oladipo, 13.3; Christian Watford, 12.7; Will Sheehey, 12.1; Jordan Hulls, 11.4). Gophers have four with Trevor Mbakwe (9.3) not far behind.
Rossow’s pick: Indiana, 75-70
No. 12 Illinois at Wisconsin, 1:15 p.m., BTN
Maybe this will cheer up confidence-challenged D.J. Richardson: He’s still the Big Ten leader among active three-point shooters. The senior has 233 and a comfortable lead on second-place Jordan Hulls of Indiana (212). Brandon Paul (175) is fourth, and Wisconsin’s Ben Brust (92) is ninth.
Rossow’s pick: Illinois, 64-62
Penn State at Purdue, 11 a.m., BTN
Much-needed break for the Boilermakers, who are coming off a stretch that included three Top 25 opponents in seven days. Matt Painter’s off-target bunch is trying to avoid its first three-game losing streak since January 2010.
Rossow’s pick: Purdue, 61-49
No. 2 Michigan at No. 15 Ohio State, 12:30 p.m., WCIA (CBS)
Matchup of two of the league’s four finalists for the Cousy Award: Trey Burke and Aaron Craft. Minnesota’s Andre Hollins and Michigan State’s Keith Appling give the Big Ten more point guards on the 20-player list than any other conference. Dee Brown is the only Big Ten player to win the award (2006).
Rossow’s pick: Michigan, 71-69
Iowa at Northwestern, 4:30 p.m., ESPNU
The Wildcats play like the school’s football team when on ESPNU (eight wins in their last nine tries, including Thursday’s romp at Penn State). Count on the trend to continue if Iowa’s leading scorer, Roy Devyn Marble (ankle), sits out a second consecutive game.
Rossow’s pick: Iowa, 70-63
Nebraska at No. 22 Michigan State, 5 p.m., BTN
We’re guessing Ray Gallegos would win the Illinois Marathon. The Nebraska guard has played 129:56 consecutive minutes dating to Dec. 29, meaning he hasn’t missed a second of three Big Ten games.
Rossow’s pick: Michigan State, 75-51
Wisconsin at No. 5 Indiana. 8 p.m., ESPN
Cody Zeller is shooting 62.4 percent in his career, which ranks first in Indiana history. No wonder the Hoosiers are 41-10 since he arrived, the best winning percentage (80.4) of any Big Ten team in that span.
Rossow’s pick: Indiana, 71-53
No. 22 Michigan State at Penn State, 6 p.m., BTN
If Nittany Lions star Tim Frazier (out for the season, ruptured Achilles tendon) needs encouragement, he’s wearing No. 22 in Green and White. Branden Dawson has recovered admirably from a torn ACL (March 2, 2012), the sophomore ranking third on his team in scoring (10.4), rebounding (6.1) and minutes (26.9).
Rossow’s pick: Michigan State, 74-65
Purdue at Nebraska, 8 p.m., BTN
Boilermakers haven’t played in Lincoln since a 58-47 win on Dec. 2, 1978, when Matt Painter was an 8-year-old with a bright future in Muncie, Ind. Today, Painter (167) is closing in on Ray Eddy (176) for third place on Purdue’s coaching wins list.
Rossow’s pick: Nebraska, 52-51
No. 2 Michigan at No. 8 Minnesota, 6 p.m., ESPN
Physical Gophers might force the Wolverines into A) finally fouling someone and B) throwing the ball away. Michigan leads the nation in allowing opponents to average 11.1 free throw attempts per game and ranks second in turnovers per game (9.3).
Rossow’s pick: Minnesota, 77-76
Northwestern at No. 12 Illinois, 7:15 p.m., BTN
Maybe the Wildcats really are Chicago’s Big Ten team. They’ve won three of the last five meetings against the Illini, their best stretch since taking four of five from 1966 to ‘68. Assuming Illinois still is in the Top 25, Northwestern has a chance to knock off a ranked team for the first time in a year (No. 6 Michigan State on Jan. 14, 2012).
Rossow’s pick: Illinois, 82-64
Brandon Paul 1
Tracy Abrams 2
Nnanna Egwu 4
Joseph Bertrand 3
D.J. Richardson —
Rossow’s take: Paul has a chance to become only the second three-time winner of the Matto Award (Dee Brown) and the Lou Henson Courage Award (Brian Randle).
Big Ten MVP
STAR, SCHOOL PREVIOUS
Trey Burke, Michigan 1
Cody Zeller, Indiana 2
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State 3
Andre Hollins, Minnesota 4
Brandon Paul, Illinois 5
Rossow’s take: Only Hollins failed to make the cut for the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25. Burke and Creighton’s Doug McDermott are the top two candidates for the honor, which will be announced during the Final Four. Three Big Ten players — Ohio State’s Evan Turner (2010), Purdue’s Glenn Robinson (1994), Indiana’s Calbert Cheaney (1993) — have won it since the award first was handed out in 1977.
Freshman of the Year
ROOKIE, SCHOOL PREVIOUS
Glenn Robinson III, Michigan 2
Gary Harris, Michigan State 5
Nik Stauskas, Michigan 1
A.J. Hammons, Purdue —
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana 3
Rossow’s take: Robinson became the third Wolverine to win Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Monday, joining Stauskas (honored three times) and Mitch McGary (one).
Coach of the Year
BOSS, SCHOOL PREVIOUS
Tubby Smith, Minnesota 3
John Groce, Illinois 1
John Beilein, Michigan 2
Tom Crean, Indiana 5
Tom Izzo, Michigan State —
Rossow’s take: Beilein, who won his 400th game as a Division I coach Wednesday, has turned Michigan into a basketball school. The Wolverines have sold out four consecutive games and are 26-1 at Crisler Center since last season.
Sixth Man of the Year
SUB, SCHOOL PREVIOUS
Will Sheehey, Indiana 1
Adreian Payne, Michigan State 3
Joseph Bertrand, Illinois 2
Mitch McGary, Michigan —
Zach McCabe, Iowa —
Rossow’s take: Sheehey is a big reason why Hoosiers rank first in the Big Ten in bench scoring (27.5 points). How critical is depth? The league’s bottom three teams rank last in this category (Northwestern, 15.0; Penn State, 10.1; Nebraska, 9.3).
By the numbers
This week: All No. 1
Deshaun Thomas Ohio State
Andre Hollins Minnesota
Ben Brust Wisconsin
Jordan Hulls Indiana
Glenn Robinson III Michigan
Rossow’s take: Mundelein’s Brust is tied with teammate Ryan Evans for the Big Ten lead in double-doubles (four). A big reason why is that the 6-foot-1 guard ranks 10th in rebounding (6.3), earning the nickname “Ben-nis Rodman.”
Teams in the NCAA field
Ohio State Lock
Michigan State Solid
Rossow’s take: Badgers on their way to A) a seventh consecutive 20-win season (second best in the Big Ten behind Ohio State); and B) a 13th consecutive winning record in league play (second best nationally behind Kansas, which has finished above .500 in 22 consecutive seasons).