Each Saturday, sports editor Jim Rossow breaks down the league he loves.
Want to know which of this week’s games are worth a look? Here’s the scoop from sports editor JIM ROSSOW, who is as angry as Matt Painter after an 8-4 week:
Purdue at No. 1 Indiana, 1 p.m., ESPN
Doesn’t make sense to foul the Hoosiers, who have made 100 of their last 116 free throw attempts (86.2 percent). Especially the starters, who are making 77.1 percent of their freebies.
Rossow’s pick: Indiana, 78-63
No. 8 Michigan State at Nebraska, 7 p.m., BTN
Crowd should be fired up. No, they’re not giving away spring football tickets. Instead, Tyronn Lue will be inducted into the Nebraska Basketball Hall of Fame at halftime.
Rossow’s pick: Michigan State, 72-65
Penn State at No. 4 Michigan, 11 a.m., BTN
Among the guests in town for the formal dedication of Crisler Center: Desmond Howard, Glen Rice and, of course, Cazzie Russell. The former Crisler Arena was known as “The House that Cazzie Built.”
Rossow’s pick: Michigan, 84-61
No. 13 Ohio State at No. 20 Wisconsin,
Noon, WCIA (CBS)
Bo Ryan can break a tie with former Buckeyes coach Gary Williams for 35th on the NCAA’s all-time wins list (668). Playing the game at Kohl Center, where the Badgers are 29-11 against Top 25 teams, should help.
Rossow’s pick: Wisconsin, 59-57
Minnesota at Iowa, 1 p.m., BTN
It no longer takes a wrestling match to fill up Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The basketball team is averaging 13,182 fans, the school’s best mark since drawing 13,235 in 2002-03.
Rossow’s pick: Iowa, 69-63
Illinois at Northwestern, 6:30 p.m., BTN
Who’s going to track down all the missed shots? Illini (minus-0.4) and Wildcats (minus-5.2) join Nebraska (minus-2.6) as the only Big Ten teams with a negative rebounding margin.
Rossow’s pick: Illinois, 68-66
No. 1 Indiana at No. 8 Michigan State, 6 p.m., ESPN
Magic Johnson makes his debut as a college basketball analyst. Not that he’ll have much time to talk with Dick Vitale joining him and Mike Tirico. Magic was recruited by Vitale when he was coaching Detroit.
Rossow’s pick: Michigan State, 75-74
Minnesota at No. 13 Ohio State, 6 p.m., BTN
Buckeyes junior Aaron Craft, who is tied with Kendall Gill for eighth on the Big Ten’s career steals list (218), needs 14 to pass Dee Brown for seventh.
Rossow’s pick: Minnesota, 64-61
No. 20 Wisconsin at Northwestern, 8 p.m., BTN
New strategy: Hack-A-Evans. In an OT loss to Minnesota, Ryan Evans was 2 of 8 from the free throw line, where he shoots 40 percent. Said Bo Ryan: “If he (Evans) makes his free throws we’re out of here. We’re on a plane already. What I am going to do with the guy? You knew it was
going to get us one game, hopefully not two.”
Rossow’s pick: Wisconsin, 49-46
Penn State at Illinois.
7:15 p.m., BTN
Don’t expect to see D.J. Newbill (36.2) or Jermaine Marshall (34.7) seated next to Patrick Chambers. The Nittany Lions rank in the top six in the Big Ten in minutes played.
Rossow’s pick: Illinois, 73-63
Iowa at Nebraska,
8 p.m., ESPN/ESPN2
Look for the Hawkeyes to pull away when the starters come out. Iowa leads the Big Ten in bench scoring (25.8) while the Cornhuskers rank 12th (8.8).
Rossow’s pick: Iowa, 65-61
W L W L IN A TOM HANKS MOVIE — COURTESY DAVE BURLESON — THEY’D BE ...
Indiana 10 2 22 3 “Catch Me If You Can” — Leading nation in scoring
Michigan State 10 2 21 4 “Saving Private Ryan” — On a mission to win league
Michigan 8 4 21 4 “The Da Vinci Code” — Recent flops puzzling
Ohio State 8 4 18 6 “Volunteers” — Craft, Thomas need others to step up
Wisconsin 8 4 17 8 “Polar Express” — Hard to derail during winter months
Minnesota 6 6 18 7 “Bachelor Party” — Situation spiraling out of control
Illinois 5 7 18 8 “Forrest Gump” — Making ranked teams look like shrimps
Iowa 5 7 16 9 “Big” — Hawkeyes growing up quickly
Purdue 5 7 12 13 “Toy Story” — Good teams play around with them
Northwestern 4 8 13 12 “The Terminal” — Program not going anywhere
Nebraska 3 9 12 13 “The Green Mile” — Cornhuskers need a miracle worker
Penn State 0 12 8 16 “Cast Away” — Stranded on Loser Island
D.J. Richardson 2
Brandon Paul 1
Tyler Griffey 3
Tracy Abrams 4
Sam McLaurin —
Rossow’s take: Richardson ranks fourth all time in career starts (122). With six regular season games left, the only way he can catch No. 1 Dee Brown (136) is if Illinois makes deep runs in the Big Ten, NCAA tournaments.
Big Ten MVP
STAR, SCHOOL PREVIOUS
Victor Oladipo, Indiana 2
Trey Burke, Michigan 1
Cody Zeller, Indiana 3
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State 4
Pick a starter, Michigan State —
Rossow’s take: Oladipo stroking it more and more like Steve Alford, improving his field goal percentage from 47.1 last season to 64.4 and his three-point percentage from 20.8 to 52.4.
Freshman of the Year
ROOKIE, SCHOOL PREVIOUS
Gary Harris, Michigan State 1
Sam Dekker, Wisconsin —
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana 4
A.J. Hammons, Purdue 2
Glenn Robinson III, Michigan 3
Rossow’s take: The injury to Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel makes Hammons the only active rookie in a BCS conference averaging 10 points, six rebounds and two blocks.
Coach of the Year
BOSS, SCHOOL PREVIOUS
John Groce, Illinois 2
Tom Izzo, Michigan State 3
Bo Ryan, Wisconsin 4
Tom Crean, Indiana —
John Beilein, Michigan 1
Rossow’s take: Izzo (206) and a pair of grumps — Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim — are the only coaches in BCS conferences with 200 league wins at their current school.
Sixth Man of the Year
SUB, SCHOOL PREVIOUS
Sam Dekker, Wisconsin 3
Will Sheehey, Indiana 2
Tyler Griffey, Illinois —
Joseph Bertrand, Illinois —
Mitch McGary, Michigan 1
Rossow’s take: Griffey, who has come off the bench for eight consecutive games, needs 10 points to reach 500 in his career. Bertrand needs 55 to join him there.
By the numbers
Active three-point leaders
GUNNER, SCHOOL TOTAL
D.J. Richardson, Illinois 257
Jordan Hulls, Indiana 233
Brandon Paul, Illinois 189
Drew Crawford, Northwestern 183
Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan 178
Rossow’s take: Hulls, a Bloomington South product, has more points (1,230) than any Bloomington native to suit up for the hometown Hoosiers.
Teams in the NCAA field
Michigan State Lock
Ohio State Lock
Rossow’s take: The last time the Big Ten had two No. 1 seeds was 2001, Bill Self’s Illini and Tom Izzo’s Spartans joining Duke and Stanford as region heavyweights.