Sports editor Jim Rossow's weekly look around the league:
With college hoops headed down the stretch, The N-G’s DavE Burleson equates each team to a race horse he’s heard of:
W L W L
Indiana 13 4 25 5
Victor Yugo: Get the ball in Oladipo’s hands
Michigan 12 5 25 5
Lend A Hand: Burke doing too much
Michigan State 12 5 23 7
Brass Tactics: Getting down to business
Ohio State 12 5 22 7
Red Thunder: Had IU hiding under covers
Wisconsin 11 6 20 10
Tale Of The Snail: Thrives in slow motion
Illinois 8 9 21 10
Auntie Freeze: Shooting needs to warm up
Minnesota 8 9 20 10
Melt Away: How were they ever ranked No. 8?
Iowa 8 9 19 11
Trouble Bubble: May be on outside looking in
Purdue 7 10 14 16
Hoof Hearted: Don’t always play with passion
Nebraska 5 12 14 16
Corndog: Repeatedly fried all season
Northwestern 4 13 13 17
Book Bound: Players only good in classroom
Penn State 2 15 10 19
Sub Dude: Make more noise on football field
Want to know which of this week’s games are worth a look? Here’s the scoop from sports editor JIM ROSSOW, who cut down the nets after a 7-3 week:
Minnesota at Purdue
11 a.m., BTN
A win would be Matt Painter’s 200th in his career (all but 25 at Purdue) and make him the 10th current Big Ten coach to reach that total. The only two with fewer wins: Illinois’ John Groce (106) and Penn State’s Patrick Chambers (64).
Rossow’s pick: Minnesota, 62-60
Nebraska at Iowa
1:15 p.m., BTN
With two points, red-hot Roy Devyn Marble (19.3-point average in his last seven games) will reach 1,000 in his career and give the Big Ten its first father-son 1,000-point duo. Roy Marble is Iowa’s all-time leading scorer with 2,116 points.
Rossow’s pick: Iowa, 75-64
No. 22 Wisconsin at Penn State
11 a.m., BTN
It’s Alumni Weekend in State College. Among those players expected back: two members of the 1954 NCAA Final Four team (David Edwards and Ruddy Marisa) and five of the school’s top 10 career scorers (Joe Crispin, Pete Lisicky, Geary Claxton, Jarrett Stephens and Titus Ivory.
Rossow’s pick: Penn State, 52-50
Illinois at No. 14 Ohio State
11:30 a.m., ESPN
Good thing Illinois passed over Thad Matta in 2004. All the Hoopeston native has done is win 79.3 percent of his games in March. The only coaches with a better percentage in the most important month: VCU’s Shaka Smart (87.0 percent), Kentucky’s John Calipari (84.2) and North Carolina’s Roy Williams (81.8).
Rossow’s pick: Ohio State, 75-58
No. 2 Indiana at No. 7 Michigan
3 p.m., WCIA (CBS)
This much we know: home fans will show up in yellow (it’s another “Maize Out” promotion) and someone’s going to cut down nets afterward, although the Hoosiers already have done it once, catching national flak for celebrating a title share after Tuesday’s loss to Ohio State. Indiana is trying to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since January 2012.
Rossow’s pick: Indiana, 75-74
Northwestern at No. 10 Michigan State
5 p.m., BTN
We had to dig deep to find something positive about the Wildcats. Among 7-footers, no one in the country averages more assists than Alex Olah (2.0). That’s better than Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk (1.7), Florida Atlantic’s Dragan Sekelja (1.2), Green Bay’s Alec Brown (1.2) and Indiana’s Cody Zeller (1.2).
Rossow’s pick: Michigan State, 73-51
D.J. Richardson 1
Brandon Paul 2
Tracy Abrams 4
Sam McLaurin 3
Tyler Griffey 5
Rossow’s take: Paul needs 43 points to become the seventh Illini to reach 1,700 in his career. Richardson needs eight points to pass fellow Peorian Frank Williams (1,440) for 15th place on the all-time list.
Big Ten MVP
STAR, SCHOOL PREVIOUS
Trey Burke, Michigan 3
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State 2
Victor Oladipo, Indiana 1
Cody Zeller, Indiana 4
Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa —
Rossow’s take: Oladipo and Ohio State’s Aaron Craft are semifinalists for the third Eddie Sutton Tustenugee Award (tenacity and unselfishness). Previous winners: Butler’s Matt Howard in 2011 and Baylor’s Quincy Acy in 2012.
Freshman of the Year
ROOKIE, SCHOOL PREVIOUS
Gary Harris, Michigan State 1
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana 3
Sam Dekker, Wisconsin 2
Glenn Robinson III, Michigan 5
Nik Stauskas, Michigan —
Rossow’s take: Harris is a finalist for the Wayman Tisdale Award (best rookie) along with UNLV’s Anthony Bennett, Arizona State’s Jahii Carson, Kansas’ Ben McLemore, UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad, Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart and Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon.
Coach of the Year
BOSS, SCHOOL PREVIOUS
John Groce, Illinois 1
Fran McCaffery, Iowa 4
Thad Matta, Ohio State —
Bo Ryan, Wisconsin 2
Tom Crean, Indiana 3
Rossow’s take: Ryan has Sparty to blame for dropping out of the race. Thursday’s setback marked the first time since he took over at Wisconsin that Ryan has lost five in a row to one team. In two games this season against Tom Izzo’s burly bunch, Bucky has shot 29.6 and 29.3 percent, the latter its worst effort since a 1999 loss to — you guessed it — Michigan State.
Sixth Man of the Year
SUB, SCHOOL PREVIOUS
Sam Dekker, Wisconsin 1
Will Sheehey, Indiana 2
Mitch McGary, Michigan —
Sandi Marcius, Purdue —
Tyler Griffey, Illinois 5
Rossow’s take: An Academic All-American from Croatia, Marcius is averaging 6.3 points and 3.9 boards in his last seven games.
By the numbers
PLAYER, SCHOOL TOTAL
Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota 10
Cody Zeller, Indiana 8
Adreian Payne, Michigan State 6
Christian Watford, Indiana 5
Ben Brust, Wisconsin 5
Rossow’s take: Mbakwe needs to take 13 shots to qualify — and become — Minnesota’s career leader in field goal percentage. The oft-injured old-timer is shooting 58.3 percent, which easily tops Randy Breuer’s school mark of 57.0.
Teams in the NCAA field
Ohio State Lock
Michigan State Lock
Rossow’s take: Hawkeyes doing it with depth, 10 players averaging 10 or more minutes. It’s the deepest team since Steve Alford’s 1999 Sweet 16 crew had 10 players logging at least 17 minutes each.