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February 5, 2013A look at the week that was for U-M's top competition in the race for the Big Ten crown
No. 1 Indiana: 20-2 (8-1)
Indiana capped off a big week by downing the Wolverines at Assembly Hall 81-72 in the conference's nationally-televised prime time showcase, earning the top spot in both the conference and the nation in the process. Earlier in the week the Hoosiers decimated a surging Purdue squad 97-60, and have outscored opponents 78.4-62.2 during their current five-game winning streak. IU looks to remain atop the Big Ten on the road this week, travelling to Illinois Feb. 7 and Ohio State Feb. 10.
Terry Hutchins - The Indianapolis Star: "The one edge Indiana has right now is that the Hoosiers are the top dog at the halfway point. They have the target their backs, a target that has been there all season long because of the preseason No. 1 ranking. But so far IU has held serve. And IU is 4-0 in true road games, too."
No. 10 Ohio State: 17-4 (7-2)
Ohio State coasted past Wisconsin and Nebraska to hold serve in the conference race. Now in a three-way tie with Michigan and Michigan State in the second slot, the Buckeyes sit just a game out of first place. Junior forward Deshaun Thomas continues to build his case for Big Ten Player of the Year honors, and averaged 20.0 points in the two wins including a 25-point outburst against the Badgers. OSU faces easily the toughest upcoming week of any team in the conference, making the trek to Crisler Center Feb. 5 before hosting top-ranked Indiana Feb. 10.
Todd Jones - The Columbus Dispatch :"Last week, federal wildlife officials proposed Endangered Species Act protections for the wolverine.
"The government might want to take a look at Thad Matta's actions.
"The Ohio State men's basketball coach is a noted Wolverine killer, having won 17 of 20 games against Michigan since he took over the Buckeyes for the 2004-05 season. Matta boasts an .850 winning percentage against Michigan heading into a game tonight in Ann Arbor."
No. 12 Michigan State: 18-4 (7-2)
Michigan State played only once last week, but made the most of its lone opportunity to impress with a 80-75 win over Illinois at the Breslin Center. Freshman guard Garry Harris is listed day-to-day after leaving the contest with back spasms and sophomore point guard Travis Trice has not yet been cleared for action after suffering a concussion in the victory. The Spartans have won seven of their last eight games, and aim to keep the good vibes going at home against Minnesota Feb. 6 and on the road at Purdue Feb. 9.
Paul Konyndyk - SpartanMag.com: " Tom Izzo usually has a better feel for what his team is capable of by the start of February.
"Injuries and attrition have made it difficult for the Michigan State coach to get an accurate reading on the ceiling of the 2012-2013 Spartans."
Wisconsin: 15-7 (6-3)
The Badgers feasted on a fledgling Illinois squad 74-68 Feb. 3 to bounce back from a tough 58-49 road loss to Ohio State earlier in the week. Although unranked, UW sits just two games out of first in the conference and is posturing for a potential top-five seed in the NCAA tournament. Bo Ryan's stingy defense has held five opponents to 51 points or less in Big Ten play, and is yielding only 55.1 points per game to conference foes. Wisconsin welcomes a pesky Iowa team Feb. 6 before aiming for a signature victory at the Kohl Center against the Maize and Blue Feb. 9.
John Veldhuis - BadgerBlitz.com: "For one reason or another, the Iowa Hawkeyes have had the Wisconsin Badgers' numbers over their last few games. The Badgers are currently riding a three-game losing streak to Iowa that dates back to Dec. 31 of 2011, when they lost 72-65 to the Hawkeyes at home in the Kohl Center. "
No. 18 Minnesota: 17-5 (5-4):
After faltering in four-straight Big Ten matchups, the reinvigorated Gopher kept their slim conference title hopes alive with integral wins over Nebraska and Iowa. Tubby Smith's squad looks to thwart its demons on the road against Michigan State, where it has lost 13-consecutive matchups, Feb. 6 and hosts Illinois Feb. 10.
Amelia Rayno - The Minnesota Star Tribune: "It's hard to take anything substantial from a one-game sample (that's pretty obvious after Sunday), but Minnesota really did look different against Nebraska. It wasn't that the things they were doing were working better (as they should against a team like Nebraska), it's that they were doing them at all. The biggest thing was just the constant screening the Gophers were doing, bigs for guards, guards for bigs. That created a lot more space for the team to work and also, just gave them more movement and possibilities. If you screen and move around that much you will ACCIDENTALLY get some chances. But against Iowa, that efficiency disappeared."