February 29, 2008

Time short for Michigan State to make move

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

UPCOMING GAMES
Saturday
Northwestern at Purdue
Illinois at Iowa
Michigan at Penn State
Minnesota at Ohio State
Sunday
Indiana at Michigan State
Tuesday
Purdue at Ohio State
Iowa at Northwestern
Wednesday
Penn State at Wisconsin
Minnesota at Indiana
Thursday
Michigan State at Illinois

Best game: Indiana at Michigan State. Michigan State lost its first of two games against ranked opponents with a 57-42 loss to Wisconsin on Thursday. The Spartans are short on opportunities to claim a spot in the top three of the Big Ten. A No. 3 seed in the conference tournament would mean Michigan State would get a first-round bye and be facing no better than a No. 6 seed in its first game. Indiana is 2-0 under new coach Dan Dakich, but the Hoosiers have been far from dominating, defeating lowly Northwestern and struggling Ohio State by only three points each. They will have little room for error during a road trip to East Lansing.

The pressure is on: Ohio State. The Buckeyes have beaten up on the bottom half of the Big Ten, but they haven't defeated a team with a winning record in the league. That will have to change if Ohio State hopes to return to the NCAA Tournament. After losing four of five, Ohio State's season finishes at Minnesota (7-7 in the Big Ten) and in Columbus against Purdue (12-2) and Michigan State (10-4).

Upset alert: Northwestern over Iowa. The Wildcats ensured they wouldn't finish the Big Ten season winless by defeating Michigan in Ann Arbor on Tuesday. Now, they'll try to make sure they don't finish the season without a Big Ten win at home. Iowa is 1-7 on the road in the Big Ten. The Wildcats are getting big contributions from Craig Moore (25 points, eight 3-pointers against Michigan) and Kevin Coble (37 points in the three-point loss against Indiana). An elusive home win could follow if both are hitting their shots.

RPI watch: Wisconsin, Indiana and Purdue went into Thursday tied for the Big Ten lead at 13-2, but the RPI sees a bigger difference among the three. Wisconsin's No. 13 rank is the highest in the Big Ten, followed by No. 16 Michigan State, No. 18 Indiana and No. 27 Purdue. Ohio State, ranked 50th, is the only other Big Ten team in the top 100.

Key stat: Northwestern ended a 20-game conference losing streak with its 62-60 win over Michigan in Ann Arbor on Tuesday. The Wildcats hadn't won a Big Ten road game since defeating Minnesota on Jan. 10, 2007.

Freshman to watch: Illinois will get a look at the future as the season ends and guard Demetri McCamey's role expands after Brian Randle's season-ending injury. So far, McCamey has been hot and cold. He scored 31 points on Feb. 7 against Indiana, but scored three points on 1-for-7 shooting against Michigan on Saturday.

Who's hot: Indiana guard Armon Bassett has averaged 21 points over the past three games while shooting 64.3 percent. Penn State forward Jamelle Cornley averaged 21 points in two games last week. Purdue guard Chris Kramer has had multiple steals in eight consecutive games. He is averaging 2.9 steals per game in that span. Wisconsin guard Jason Bohannon is averaging 14.8 points over his past five games. He had scored 14 points in a game only twice this season before Feb. 9.

Who's not: Ohio State swingman David Lighty averaged 3.8 points over the past five games, dropping his scoring average from 9.5 points to 8.5. Ohio State is 18 of 63 (28.6 percent) from 3-point range over the past three games. Michigan forward DeShawn Sims is 3-for-20 (15 percent) from the field in his past two games. He is a 40.4-percent shooter for the season. Penn State freshman Talor Battle is 5-for-22 (22.7 percent) from the field in the past three games.

Worth noting: Indiana University police have added extra security at university president Michael McRobbie's office and other locations around the president. Indiana police say there has been no specific threat on McRobbie, and the extra security is only a precaution in the wake of coach Kelvin Sampson's buyout last week. Ohio State coach Thad Matta did not start senior guard Jamar Butler against Wisconsin on Saturday. Neither Matta nor Butler discussed why Butler did not start for the first time since the first game of his sophomore season. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo won the 300th game of his career with a 66-52 victory over Iowa on Saturday.

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

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.



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