Sports editor Jim Rossow's weekly look around the league:
W L W L AS A BOOK — COURTESY N-G’S DAVE BURLESON — THEY’D BE ...
Indiana 12 3 24 4 “The Call of the Wild” — Still the top dog
Michigan State 11 4 22 6 “The Right Stuff” — Could soar in tourney
Wisconsin 11 4 20 8 “All Quiet on the Western Front” — They get down in the trenches
Ohio State 11 5 21 7 “Have a Little Faith” — Thomas starting to trust mates
Michigan 10 5 23 5 “Paradise Lost” — Forget a No. 1 seed
Illinois 7 8 20 9 “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” — Never know who’ll show up
Minnesota 7 8 19 9 “Pet Sematary” — Back from the dead
Iowa 7 8 18 10 “The Pilgrim’s Progress” — On a journey to turn it around
Purdue 6 9 13 15 “Lord of the Flies” — Immature bunch
Nebraska 4 11 13 15 “Moby-Dick” — Can’t hang with the big fish
Northwestern 4 12 13 16 “1984” — Easy to control
Penn State 1 14 9 18 “The Little Engine That Could” — Take that, Michigan
Want to know which of this week’s games are worth a look? Here’s the scoop from sports editor JIM ROSSOW, who blames Unofficial for his 6-3 week:
Penn State at Minnesota, 2 p.m., BTN
Nittany Lions looking for their second Big Ten win streak in 720 days. They swept Nebraska and Iowa in home games last February.
Rossow’s pick: Minnesota, 70-62
Nebraska at Illinois, 4:15 p.m., BTN
Who came up with the Cornhuskers’ schedule? On Tuesday, they faced a Wisconsin team that was coming off a five-day break (and lost by 31). Illinois is just as rested, having not played since Sunday.
Rossow’s pick: Illinois, 72-52
Iowa at No. 1 Indiana, 6:30 p.m., BTN
No one gets to the free throw line more in the Big Ten than big men Aaron White of the Hawkeyes (204 attempts) and Cody Zeller (199) of the Hoosiers. (Note: White’s playing better than Zeller as of late, averaging 14 points and 6.1 rebounds the last nine games).
Rossow’s pick: Indiana, 91-77
Purdue at No. 17 Wisconsin, noon, ESPN
Kohl Center is the only Big Ten gym in which Boilermakers seniors Dru Anthrop and D.J. Byrd have yet to win (team’s last win in Madison: 2009; team’s record at Kohl: 2-9).
Rossow’s pick: Wisconsin, 64-61
No. 9 Michigan State at No. 4 Michigan
3 p.m., WCIA (CBS)
Spartans are the only team with five players averaging double-figure points in Big Ten play (Keith Appling, Branden Dawson, Gary Harris, Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne).
Rossow’s pick: Michigan, 75-71
Illinois at Iowa, 6 p.m., BTN
Aaron White and Roy Devyn Marble (27.1) are the fourth-highest scoring duo in the Big Ten, trailing only Michigan’s Trey Burke-Tim Hardaway Jr. (33.5), Penn State’s Jermaine Marshall-D.J. Newbill (31.3) and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo-Cody Zeller (30.4).
Rossow’s pick: Iowa, 67-65
No. 16 Ohio State at No. 1 Indiana, 8 p.m., ESPN
Aaron Craft, already No. 1 on the Buckeyes’ career steals list (224), is in line to leave school as the top passer, too. Junior (482) trails only Kelvin Ransey (516) and Jamar Butler (579) in assists.
Rossow’s pick: Indiana, 74-63
No. 4 Michigan at Purdue, 6 p.m., BTN
Talk about an iron man: Play-by-play man Larry Clisby, in his 30th season as the voice of Boilermakers basketball, has been behind the mic for 656 consecutive games.
Rossow’s pick: Purdue, 71-69
Minnesota at Nebraska, 8 p.m., BTN
Who came up with the Cornhuskers’ schedule, Part II? They’ve played — and lost to — nine ranked teams this season. The school record for Top 25 opponents is 10 during their Big Eight days (1991-92, 1994-95).
Rossow’s pick: Nebraska, 59-58
No. 17 Wisconsin at No. 9 Michigan State
8 p.m., ESPN
Adreian Payne making a push for Spartans MVP. Since early January, the big man is averaging 12.1 points on 60 percent shooting, including 10 of 19 from three-point range.
Rossow’s pick: Michigan State, 61-57
D.J. Richardson 1
Brandon Paul 2
Sam McLaurin 5
Tracy Abrams 4
Tyler Griffey —
Rossow’s take: Richardson and Paul would love to play as well in their final home game as they did in the first home game. In the 2009 opener against SIU-Edwardsville, Paul had 22 points and four assists while Richardson added 14 points and four assists.
Big Ten MVP
STAR, SCHOOL PREVIOUS
Victor Oladipo, Indiana 1
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State 4
Trey Burke, Michigan 2
Cody Zeller, Indiana 3
Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota —
Rossow’s take: Thomas on pace to become the fifth Buckeye to lead the Big Ten in scoring since ‘92 (Evan Turner, twice; Michael Redd; Jim Jackson). Only Purdue can match that total in that span (Glenn Robinson, twice; Willie Deane; JaJuan Johnson).
Freshman of the Year
ROOKIE, SCHOOL PREVIOUS
Gary Harris, Michigan State 1
Sam Dekker, Wisconsin 3
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana 2
A.J. Hammons, Purdue 5
Glenn Robinson III, Michigan 4
Rossow’s take: Harris’ mother, Joy, was an All-America basketball player at Purdue and suited up for the WNBA’s Detroit Shock.
Coach of the Year
BOSS, SCHOOL PREVIOUS
John Groce, Illinois 1
Bo Ryan, Wisconsin 2
Tom Crean, Indiana 3
Fran McCaffery, Iowa 4
Pat Chambers, Penn State —
Rossow’s take: Ryan on pace for his 12th consecutive top-four finish in the Big Ten despite not having a player ranked in the top 20 in scoring (Jared Berggren’s 11.6 average checks in at No. 21).
Sixth Man of the Year
SUB, SCHOOL PREVIOUS
Sam Dekker, Wisconsin 2
Will Sheehey, Indiana 1
Darnell Valentine, Michigan St. 3
Tre Demps, Northwestern —
Tyler Griffey, Illinois 4
Rossow’s take: Dekker would be the second Badger to win the award (Jason Bohannon, 2008) and allow Wisconsin to join Ohio State as the only school with multiple winners. Three Buckeyes have been honored: Daequan Cook (2007), B.J. Mullens (2009) and Aaron Craft (2011).
By the numbers
Active scoring leaders
PLAYER, SCHOOL POINTS
Christian Watford, Indiana 1,650
Brandon Paul, Illinois 1,525
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State 1,452
Drew Crawford, Northwestern 1,418
D.J. Richardson, Illinois 1,407
Rossow’s take: Watford is tops among active rebounding leaders, too, with 732. Crawford (508) and Paul (452) rank in the top 10.
Teams in the NCAA field
Michigan State Lock
Ohio State Lock
Rossow’s take: If Hawkeyes make a late run, Big Ten can set a record for most teams in the tournament (eight). The previous league high — not counting forfeited appearances — was seven in 1990 (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue).