Crazy year in the Big 10

March 05, 2008 2:47 AM
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Tournament play runs wild this week! The Big 10 tournament is one of many major conference tournaments that will help whittle the field.

Ohio State made the title game last year with Greg Oden while Michigan State won it all in 2000. Here’s a look at some of the top teams of the Big 10 looking to make a similar run.

Wisconsin: The Badgers don’t mind the physical game, allowing just 38 percent shooting with their power frontcourt of 6-11 senior Brian Butch (12.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg), 6-7 junior Joe Krabbenhoft and 6-7 junior Marcus Landry (11 ppg, 5 rpg). They are particularly bruising at home, allowing just 54 ppg, where they started 9-4 under the total.

This should be a fun time for Butch, as a year ago he injured his elbow and missed tournament play, sinking the Badgers’ hopes. Guards Trevon Hughes (12 ppg) and Michael Flowers anchor the backcourt for head coach Bo Ryan. Wisky is 2-1 SU/ATS as a dog. This is an experienced team, as is evident with their 9-2 SU, 7-3 ATS road record. They have a win at Texas under their belts, 67-66, as a +7 dog, but failed to control the tempo in an 82-58 loss at Duke.

Indiana: What a strange season for Hoosier basketball! IU is one of the top teams in the Big 10, yet saw head coach Kelvin Sampson resign last month because of NCAA infractions. Sampson was either brash or foolish, as he was run out of Oklahoma in 2006 for similar violations, now disgracing two programs. Interim coach Dan Dakich won his first two games since taking over and has a talented young backcourt, led by 6-4 freshman guard Eric Gordon (21 ppg), sophomore Armon Bassett (11 ppg) and freshman Jordan Crawford (10 ppg).

The anchor up front is 6-9, 250-pound senior D.J. White (17 ppg, 10.4 rpg), who leads in rebounds and is second in scoring, along with 6-5 junior Jamarcus Ellis (7.2 rpg). The Hoosiers might have a chip on their shoulder come tourney time, with plenty to prove for the new coach. On the flip side, the coach, the administration and even some players have embarrassed the school and their great fans.

Purdue: Since December upset losses to Wofford and Iowa State, this young Boilermaker squad has been a machine, going on a 14-1 SU, 12-3 ATS run. Coach Matt Painter has done a fabulous job. The backcourt has freshman guard E’Twaun Moore (11.9 ppg) and sophomore 6-4 Keaton Grant, while up front they have freshmen 6-8 Robbie Hummel (11.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and 6-8 Scott Martin. Those kids lead the team in scoring and rebounding!

Purdue is not a great shooting team, at 42 percent, but play a slow-down style that allows 61 ppg. The Boilermakers are 7-2 ATS as a dog and have a win over Louisville, 67-59. Painter was voted Missouri Valley Coach of the Year after his only season at Southern Illinois (2003-04) and is the favorite to cop Big 10 Coach of the Year.

Michigan State: The Spartans were up and down last season because of youth, but those growing pains paid dividends this season. Senior guard Drew Neitzel is a fine long range threat and averages 13.8 points, stabilizing the backcourt with freshman Kalin Lucas. Sophomore Raymar Morgan was the team’s second-leading scorer a year ago and is the leader this year with 15.2 ppg.

Morgan teams with 6-10 junior Goran Suton up front. Tom Izzo has another strong defensive team allowing 39 percent shooting. They have wins over Texas, but lost a showdown with UCLA, 68-63. Their road record has improved dramatically from last year’s poor 1-7 SU, 2-6 ATS mark, but they don’t have a winning record as a dog.

Ohio State: Losing freshman stars Greg Oden and Mike Conley to the NBA has not been a problem. Thad Matta has done a remarkable rebuilding job with defense leading team way. Ohio State allows 38 percent shooting and 60 ppg, starting 16-7 under the total with senior guard Jamar Butler (14 ppg, 6.3 apg) leading the offense.

Up front, 7-foot freshman Kosta Koufos (13.9 ppg, 7 rpg) and 6-8 senior Othello Hunter have been terrific in scoring and on the glass. The Buckeyes main concerns are a poor road record and starting out 1-6 as an underdog.