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February 19, 2013A look at the week that was for U-M's top competition in the race for the Big Ten crown
No. 1 Indiana 23-3 (11-2):
Indiana stifled a pesky Nebraska squad 76-47 Feb. 13 and absolutely annihilated in-state rival Purdue 83-55 Feb. 16, but all was not perfect in Hoosier-land.
Star junior guard Victor Oladipo was forced to leave the rout of the Boilermakers late in the first half with an ankle injury and, although he is expected to play in the Hoosiers massive matchup with No. 4 Michigan State Feb. 19, he will most likely be limited. In turn, added production may be needed from junior guard Will Sheehey, who appears up to the challenge after averaging 15.5 points on 64.7 percent shooting and 3.5 rebounds last week.
With the two victories, IU, which has outscored its opponents by 23.3 points per game during its current three-game winning streak, is 20 games over the .500 mark for the first time since 1993. Still, the Hoosiers have struggled in East Lansing, and have dropped 17-straight contests at the Breslin Center.
Terry Hutchens - The Indianapolis Star: "The last time Indiana's basketball team won at Michigan State, Calbert Cheaney was a sophomore and Damon Bailey was a freshman.
"Belinda Watford was seven months pregnant with Christian.
"It was Feb. 28, 1991.
"Since then, Michigan State has won 17 in a row against Indiana at the Breslin Center and 85 IU players finished their careers without beating the Spartans on the road."
No. 4 Michigan State 22-4 (11-2):
Michigan State continues to surge towards yet another Big Ten title, and is now tied with only Indiana atop the Big Ten standings. The Spartans made an enormous statement when they blasted in-state rival Michigan 75-52 Feb. 12 in arguably the biggest matchup in the history of the rivalry, and kept the positive momentum going with a 73-64 win over Nebraska in Lincoln Feb. 16.
Guard Gary Harris averaged 15.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and two steals in the two victories, and was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the third time this season.
The 22-4 start is tied for the second-best 26-game record in the Tom Izzo era, but the Spartans face an absolute gauntlet in the coming week, welcoming top ranked Indiana Feb. 19 before travelling to meet a desperate Ohio State Feb. 24. MSU has won seven of its last ten tilts with IU, but is just 3-18 all-time against AP No. 1 squads.
Graham Couch - The Lansing State Journal: "Because simmering beneath Izzo's carefully crafted and modest compliments toward his own fourth-ranked team is the truth: This can be special MSU group. More so than Indiana. Or Michigan. Or any of its other Big Ten brethren. Even in the league's best year since the 1980s."
No. 19 Wisconsin 18-8 (8-5):
Wisconsin bounced back from a crushing 58-53 overtime loss at Minnesota Feb. 14 to trounce fledgling Ohio State 71-49 at the Kohl Center Feb. 17 - the second largest margin of victory in head coach Bo Ryan's 12-year tenure.
Junior guard Ben Brust continued his strong play with a double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds) against the Buckeyes, and in total averaged 14.5 points per game on the week. The victory over OSU marked UW's fifth over a ranked opponent this year, the most in school history, and its nine games against ranked opponents thus far is more than any other squad in the country.
While a Big Ten title is likely out of reach, the Badgers are slated as high as a five seed in the NCAA tournament by bracket prognosticators, and can continue to enhance their stock this week with a very winnable game at Northwestern Feb. 20.
Jeff Potrykus - The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Wisconsin's overtime loss last week at Minnesota still haunts and stings, but the question remains:
"Can UW recover and secure at least a share of its first Big Ten men's basketball title since the 2007-'08 season?"
No. 18 Ohio State: 18-7 (8-5):
Ohio State's rapid midseason free fall continued Feb. 17 when it was destroyed on the road by Wisconsin 71-49. The decimation was OSU's most lopsided loss since 2010, and the 17-point half time deficit was the largest it has faced since 2007.
Despite beating Northwestern 69-59 at Value City Arena earlier in the week, the Buckeyes have lost three of four, and are just 1-7 against ranked opponents this year.
Now fifth in the conference standings, the Buckeyes desperately need wins at home against Minnesota Feb. 20 and Michigan State Feb. 24 to keep any slim hopes of a sixth Big Ten title in eight years alive.
Bob Baptist - The Columbus Dispatch: "For whatever reason, this team clearly has regressed. Some players say it isn't so, but you have to wonder how much of a psychological hit they took from not being able to put away Michigan and then getting overmatched against Indiana. Those losses were another reminder to the Buckeyes that they have won just one of eight games against ranked teams. That's not good for the ego."