January 11, 2008

Indiana will test upstart Minnesota

MORE BREAKDOWNS: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Pac-10 | SEC

Minnesota at Penn State
Ohio State at Purdue
Michigan at Northwestern
Michigan State at Iowa
Illinois at Indiana
Ohio State at Michigan State
Wisconsin at Penn State
Purdue at Iowa
Michigan at Illinois
Indiana at Minnesota

Best matchup: Indiana at Minnesota, Thursday. The Hoosiers (13-1, 2-0) are the real deal. They will be in the Big Ten race until the end with Michigan State. The Golden Gophers (11-3, 1-1), a surprise so far, can prove whether they're a real contender with an upset of IU. Tubby Smith's crew played well at Michigan State, falling 65-59 after sophomore Raymar Morgan went for a career-high 31 points.

The pressure is on: Illinois coach Bruce Weber. The Illini (8-8, 0-3) are reeling. They've lost four in a row, including three to start the Big Ten season. Now they have to go to Indiana on Sunday. The Hoosiers are licking their chops. Staring an 0-4 conference start square in the eye, Weber is feeling the heat.

Upset alert: Wisconsin at Penn State. The Badgers (13-2, 3-0) will take the weekend off before heading to Happy Valley to take on the suddenly hot Nittany Lions (10-4, 2-0). Penn State won its first two Big Ten games on the road, and if you don't understand what a huge deal that is, remember that it didn't won a road game last season. In fact, it hadn't won consecutive Big Ten road games since 1999. The Nittany Lions are riding a seven-game winning streak. Wisconsin has won six of the past seven in the series, but it's only 6-6 at Penn State.

RPI watch: The lines are pretty well drawn in the Big Ten. Five of its teams are in the top 50 of the RPI (Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota), and six are outside the top 100.

Key stat: Illinois is in the midst of the first four-game losing streak in the Weber Era (2003-present).

Freshman to watch: G Kalin Lucas, Michigan State. The former Rivals.com four-star prospect has been coming on lately, with five consecutive double-figure scoring games after posting just two in the first 10. He's averaging 15.6 points during the stretch, with 27 assists and 12 turnovers. The Spartans are at Iowa on Saturday.

Who's hot: Michigan State's Morgan is averaging 20.6 points per game and shooting 59 percent (36 of 61) over the past five games. Indiana forward D.J. White is averaging 17.3 rebounds per game over the past three games. He had a career-high 22 rebounds to go with 21 points in a win over Michigan. Penn State swingman Geary Claxton has five double-doubles in his past seven games. Jamelle Cornley, Claxton's running mate, is shooting 64 percent over the past two games while averaging 20 points and 11.5 rebounds. Michigan freshman guard Manny Harris has made 48 of his past 54 free-throw attempts (88.9 percent). Ohio State senior guard Jamar Butler is averaging 9.5 assists over the past four games.

Who's not: It's good for the Buckeyes that Butler, a senior, is dishing the rock efficiently. After scoring a career-high 32 points at Illinois on Jan. 3, he is just 3-of-14 (21.4 percent) from the field in the past two games. Illinois guard Trent Meacham is shooting 12.5 percent (2-of-16) over the past two games. Purdue freshman swingman Scott Martin is shooting 7.1 percent in Big Ten play (1-of-14 in two games).

Worth noting: Purdue freshman forward Robbie Hummel is expected to play Saturday against Ohio State. He missed Tuesday night's narrow loss at Michigan State with the flu. Illinois freshman point guard Demetri McCamey made his first start of the season Thursday night at Wisconsin. There are six freshmen among the top 20 scorers in the Big Ten. Minnesota senior forward Dan Coleman became the 17th player in program history to reach 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in his career when he torched Northwestern for 19 points and 14 rebounds Wednesday. Northwestern sophomore forward Kevin Coble, in just his third game of the season after missing the first nine to tend to his ailing mother, had 17 points and seven rebounds against the Golden Gophers. Indiana's White is averaging 16.7 points and 10.9 rebounds per game this season as he seeks to become the first Hoosier since Alan Henderson in 1994-95 to average double-figure points and rebounds.

MORE BREAKDOWNS: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Pac-10 | SEC

Bob McClellan is the basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at bmcclellan@rivals.com.


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