Rossow's Big Ten report: Calling Oprah

Sports editor Jim Rossow's weekly Big Ten breakdown:

The schedule

Want to know which of this week’s games are worth a look? Here’s the scoop from sports editor JIM ROSSOW, who has requested a sit-down with Oprah after going 6-5 last week:

TODAY
No. 14 Ohio State at Penn State,
11 a.m., BTN

Junior Aaron Craft (204) has a chance to catch the UI’s Bruce Douglas (324) as the Big Ten’s career steals leader. Craft is 11 away from cracking the all-time Top 10 list.
Rossow’s pick: Ohio State, 75-52

No. 12 Minnesota at Wisconsin,
1 p.m., BTN

Not a great place for the slumping Gophers to turn it around: A) Badgers have held opponents to 60 or fewer points in 19 consecutive games at the Kohl Center and B) have lost once to Minnesota in Madison since 1994.
Rossow’s pick: Minnesota, 49-47

Northwestern at Nebraska,
2 p.m., ESPNU

Wildcats go as grad student Jared Swopshire goes. In wins, the Louisville transfer is averaging 12.3 points on 50-percent shooting. In losses, those numbers dip to 5.4 and 34.7 percent.
Rossow’s pick: Northwestern, 64-60

SUNDAY
No. 13 Michigan State at No. 7 Indiana
Noon, WCIA (CBS)

As Indiana coach, Tom Crean is 1-5 against former boss Tom Izzo, whose Spartans are off to a good start in a nasty stretch (seven Top 25 teams in 11 games).
Rossow’s pick: Indiana, 75-70

Iowa at Purdue, 2:30 p.m., BTN
Better check IDs. Boilermakers have four freshmen — Ronnie Johnson, A.J. Hammons, Donnie Hale, Rapheal Davis — playing at least 14 minutes per game. Iowa’s freshmen have 50 starts, first in the Big Ten and sixth nationally.
Rossow’s pick: Purdue, 65-58

No. 2 Michigan at Illinois, 5 p.m., BTN
Wolverines are scoring a lot (78.7 points per game, by 12 the highest average under John Beilein) and beating teams bad (average margin of victory: 19.6, which ranks third nationally).
Rossow’s pick: Michigan, 80-70

TUESDAY
Wisconsin at No. 14 Ohio State,
6 p.m., ESPN

Only Bob Knight (131 games) reached 100 wins quicker than Bo Ryan (140), who is tied with Branch McCracken for second place. Thad Matta and Harry Combes are tied for third (141).
Rossow’s pick: Ohio State, 70-57

Nebraska at No. 12 Minnesota,
8 p.m., BTN

We officially can declare Trevor Mbakwe back at full speed. In his last 10 games, the old-timer is averaging 11.3 points and 10.6 rebounds.
Rossow’s pick: Minnesota, 69-54

WEDNESDAY
Northwestern at No. 2 Michigan, 5:30 p.m., BTN

Patience has paid off for Wolverines: Thursday’s win allowed John Beilein to reach .500 in Big Ten games (48-48).
Rossow’s pick: Michigan, 84-72

No. 7 Indiana at Purdue, 7:30 p.m., BTN
Boilermakers have to pick up the pace if they are to reach 20 wins for a school-record seventh consecutive season.
Rossow’s pick: Indiana, 67-65

THURSDAY
Illinois at No. 13 Michigan State
6 p.m., ESPN

Memo to the Illini: Be sure to block out. Sparty has led the Big Ten in rebounding in 12 of the last 15 seasons. Plus, three regulars — Keith Appling (42 inches), Adreian Payne (41) and Travis Trice (401/2) — have serious vertical when given a running start.
Rossow’s pick: Illinois, 70-69

Penn State at Iowa, 7 p.m., ESPNU
Someone needs to check the rims at Carver-Hawkeye. Away from home, Hawkeyes are shooting 35 percent from three-point range. In their own gym, they’re shooting 27 percent.
Rossow’s pick: Iowa, 71-49

The standings
                           Conf.     Overall
                            W    L    W    L    IN THE NFL THEY’D BE ...

Michigan State    6    1    17    3    Ravens (at forward ... Ray Lewis)  
Michigan    5    1    18    1    49ers (Jim Harbaugh QB’d for Bo)
Indiana    5    1    17    2    Patriots (points aplenty)
Ohio State    4    2    14    4    Broncos (fun to watch)
Wisconsin    4    2    13    6    Packers (loyal, loud fans)
Minnesota    3    3    15    4    Steelers (old and cranky)
Purdue    3    3    10    9    Colts (will be really good in ‘15)
Northwestern    3    4    12    8    Browns (NCAA bids: Super Bowl)
Illinois    2    4    15    5    Bears (coaching change was necessary)
Iowa    2    4    13    6    Seahawks (up-and-coming)
Nebraska    1    6    10    10    Lions (historically comical)
Penn State    0    7    8    11    Jaguars (might as well play in London)

Illinois MVP

PLAYER    Previous
Brandon Paul    1
D.J. Richardson    3
Nnanna Egwu    4
Tracy Abrams    2
Joseph Bertrand    —
Rossow’s take: Paul (35 at Gonzaga) and Richardson (30 at Nebraska) are the first Illini to each reach 30 points in the same season since Deon Thomas and Kiwane Garris in 1993-94.

Big Ten MVP

STAR, SCHOOL    PREVIOUS
Trey Burke, Michigan    1
Cody Zeller, Indiana    2
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State    3
Keith Appling, Michigan State    —
Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan    5
Rossow’s take: Thomas has scored at least 20 points in five consecutive games, the first Buckeye to do that since Michael Redd in 1997-98. The school record belongs to Dennis Hopson, who reached 20 points in 20 consecutive games in 1986-87.  

Freshman of the Year

ROOKIE, SCHOOL    PREVIOUS
Glenn Robinson III, Michigan    2
Gary Harris, Michigan State    3
A.J. Hammons, Purdue    1
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana    5
Nik Stauskas, Michigan    —
Rossow’s take: John Beilein has started at least one freshman in each of his six seasons at Michigan: Robinson and Stauskas (2012-13); Trey Burke (2011-12); Tim Hardaway Jr. (2010-11); Darius Morris (2009-10); Zack Novak and Stu Douglass (2008-09); and Manny Harris (2007-08).

Coach of the Year

BOSS, SCHOOL    PREVIOUS
John Beilein, Michigan (above)    2
Tom Izzo, Michigan State    3
Frank McCaffery, Iowa    —
John Groce, Illinois    5
Bill Carmody, Northwestern    —
Rossow’s take: He may act like a maniac, but Izzo keeps his Spartans ultra-cool when it counts. In the last three minutes of conference games, Michigan State is shooting 50 percent from the field and 84 percent from the foul line. No wonder they’re 3-0 in Big Ten games decided by five points or less.

Sixth Man of the Year

SUB, SCHOOL    PREVIOUS
Will Sheehey, Indiana    4
Mitch McGary, Michigan    3
Melsahn Basabe, Iowa    —
Sam Dekker, Wisconsin    2
Joseph Bertrand, Illinois    —
Rossow’s take: In his last four games, Basabe has averaged 9.8 points — on 68 percent shooting — and 4.8 rebounds.

By the numbers

This week:
All-skyscaper (6-10 & above)
PLAYER    SCHOOL
Cody Zeller, Indiana    7-0
Jared Berggren, Wisconsin    6-10
Adreian Payne, Michigan State    6-10
A.J. Hammons, Purdue    7-0
Nnanna Egwu, Illinois    6-11
Rossow’s take: Berggren ranks in the Top 20 in points (12.5), rebounds (6.4), shooting (51.7 percent) and blocks (1.8).
 
Dance Cards

Teams in the NCAA field
SCHOOL    STATUS
Michigan State    Lock
Michigan    Lock
Indiana    Lock
Ohio State    Lock
Minnesota    Solid
Wisconsin    Solid
Illinois    Bubble
Iowa    Bubble
Rossow’s take: Buckeyes in line for their fifth consecutive NCAA bid and ninth 20-win season in a row.

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