Jim Rossow's Big Ten report: Heavyweight bout on tap

Sports editor Jim Rossow's weekly look around the league:

THE STANDINGS
                  Conf.   Overall
    W    L    W    L    ON THE ROAD THEY’D BE ...
Michigan    7    1    20    1    Escalade (loaded with features)
Indiana    7    1    19    2    Dragster (good at high speeds)
Michigan State    7    2    18    4    Tow truck (pulling out wins)  
Ohio State    6    2    16    4    IndyCar (room for 1 driver: D. Thomas)
Wisconsin    5    3    14    7    Plow (slow and steady)
Minnesota    4    4    16    5    Pickup (nothing cute about it)
Purdue    4    4    11    10    Dune Buggy (prone to rollovers)
Iowa    3    5    14    7    Prius (gaining popularity)
Northwestern    3    6    12    10    Segway (looks really weird)
Illinois    2    6    15    7    Convertible (not handy in Jan.-Feb.)
Nebraska    2    7    11    11    Pinto (last seen in the ‘70s)
Penn State    0    9    8    13    Hearse (sad times)

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 the Harbaughs calling him for advice after going 9-3 last week:

SATURDAY
Purdue at Northwestern
11 a.m., ESPN2
Where’s Troy Lewis when you need him? In their last 10 games, Boilermakers have scored 54 percent of their points in the paint. They rank last in the Big Ten with 92 three-pointers.
Rossow’s pick: Northwestern, 65-63

No. 11 Ohio State at Nebraska
6 p.m., BTN
Who taught Ray Gallegos to shoot? Huskers guard, who came into the season with 21 three-pointers in 55 career games, leads the Big Ten with 55 after burying six in a 30-point outburst against Minnesota. The last Husker to score 30 in a game: Tyronn Lue in 1998.
Rossow’s pick: Ohio State, 67-60

No. 1 Michigan at No. 3 Indiana
8 p.m., ESPN
Last time Wolverines were No. 1 (1992), their first road game as the top dog also took place in a rowdy atmosphere against a quality opponent. The Fab Five lost that one, 79-68, at fourth-ranked Duke.
Rossow’s pick: Indiana, 79-68

SUNDAY
Iowa at No. 23 Minnesota
Noon, BTN
Only three Big Ten players are averaging at least 14 points and six rebounds, and two of them are stars (Indiana’s Cody Zeller, Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas). The other? Iowa’s Aaron White, perhaps the most underrated player in the league.
Rossow’s pick: Minnesota, 69-61

Wisconsin at Illinois
2:30 p.m., BTN
Anyone else tired of losing to the Badgers all the time? Bucky is on an 11-4 run against Illinois in men’s basketball, 7-1 in football and 7-3 in women’s basketball. Heck, even the Packers have won six in a row against the Bears.
Rossow’s pick: Illinois, 59-57

TUESDAY
Purdue at Penn State
6 p.m., BTN
Fifth game in 13 days for the Boilermakers. Fatigue, however, shouldn’t be a factor against the woeful Nittany Lions, who have lost eight of their last nine games against Purdue.
Rossow’s pick: Purdue, 60-54

No. 11 Ohio State at No. 1 Michigan
8 p.m., ESPN
Crisler Center has been kind to the Wolverines, who at home are 13-0 (including six consecutive sellouts), averaging 80.1 points on 51 percent shooting and winning by an average margin of 24.5 points.
Rossow’s pick: Michigan, 80-71

WEDNESDAY
No. 23 Minnesota at No. 13 Michigan State
6 p.m., BTN
With 26 more assists and 13 rebounds, Rodney Williams will become the third Gopher to reach career totals of 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists. The others: Sam Jacobson and Willie Burton.
Rossow’s pick: Michigan State, 72-64

Iowa at Wisconsin
8 p.m., BTN
Everyone knows Badgers play solid D. But the Hawkeyes are starting to defend, too, holding opponents to almost nine fewer points this season (63.9) compared to 2011-12 (72.5).
Rossow’s pick: Wisconsin, 51-50

THURSDAY
No. 3 Indiana at Illinois
6 p.m., ESPN2
Hoosiers have won five consecutive Big Ten road games — and six of seven. But they’ve lost their last three games at C-U’s Assembly Hall — and nine of 10.
Rossow’s pick: Indiana, 81-69

THE LISTS

ILLINOIS MVP

PLAYER    Previous
Brandon Paul    1
D.J. Richardson    2
Tracy Abrams    4
Nnanna Egwu    3
Sam McLaurin    —
Rossow’s take: Paul is closing in on 200 career three-pointers (he’s 17 shy), a total reached by seven players in school history. That includes Richardson (246), one of two active Big Ten shooters with more than 200 (Indiana’s Jordan Hulls, 224).

BIG TEN MVP

STAR, SCHOOL    PREVIOUS
Trey Burke, Michigan    1
Cody Zeller, Indiana    2
Victor Oladipo, Indiana    —
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State    3
Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan    5
Rossow’s take: Burke, Zeller, Oladipo and Thomas are on the 12-player midseason watch list for the Oscar Robertson Trophy National Player of the Year award. Hoosiers and Bill Self’s Jayhawks (Ben McLemore, Jeff Withey) are the only programs with two players to make the cut.

FRESHMAN OF YEAR

ROOKIE, SCHOOL    PREVIOUS
Glenn Robinson III, Michigan    1
Gary Harris, Michigan State    2
A.J. Hammons, Purdue    3
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana    4
Nik Stauskas, Michigan    5
Rossow’s take: Robinson, Stauskas and Ferrell made the 12-player Wayman Tisdale Midseason Watch List (Freshman of the Year). Two Big Ten rookies — Michigan’s Chris Webber (1992) and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger (2011) — have won the national honor.

COACH OF YEAR

BOSS, SCHOOL    PREVIOUS
John Beilein, Michigan    1
Tom Crean, Indiana    —
Tom Izzo, Michigan State    2
Fran McCaffery, Iowa    3
John Groce, Illinois    4
Rossow’s take: You know Beilein is one of nine coaches to lead four different teams to the NCAA tournament (Canisius, Richmond, West Virginia, Michigan). What might be news to you is that he grew up on an apple farm and is buddies with Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who played baseball at Michigan.

SIXTH MAN OF YEAR

SUB, SCHOOL    PREVIOUS
Will Sheehey, Indiana    1
Mitch McGary, Michigan    2
Sam Dekker, Wisconsin    4
Evan Ravenel, Ohio State    —
Zach McCabe, Iowa    —
Rossow’s take: The beefy Ravenel — a 55 percent shooter during his two seasons in Columbus — is the only Buckeye in his last year of eligibility, although Deshaun Thomas has early-departure potential.

BY THE NUMBERS

This week:
All-Joe Flacco (No. 5)
PLAYER    SCHOOL
Adreian Payne    Michigan State
Ryan Evans    Wisconsin
Anthony Clemmons    Iowa
Donovan Jack    Penn State
Eso Akunne    Michigan
Rossow’s take: Clemmons teamed with Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine — a fellow freshman who was last seen taking it to the Illini — to lead Sexton (Mich.) to three consecutive state titles.
 
DANCE CARDS

Teams in the NCAA field
SCHOOL    STATUS
Michigan    Lock
Indiana    Lock
Michigan State    Lock
Ohio State    Lock
Minnesota    Solid
Wisconsin    Solid
Illinois    Bubble
Rossow’s take: Not only have the Buckeyes been tournament regulars under Thad Matta — seven consecutive postseason appearances — but they tend to stick around (45-12 in March under the Pride of Hoopeston).
 

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