Michigan State is at Northwestern tonight. If the Wildcats win, I will travel from Iowa City to Chicago by Megabus for the Jan. 25 Iowa-Northwestern game.
No, don’t assume I was planning to do that, anyway. Are you kidding me? It’s a bus!
(I just read that MSU star forward Adreian Payne is going to again be held out of action. Gulp.)
Now for thoughts about Big Ten basketball:
It used to be that an upset was an upset. I know Wisconsin was unbeaten and ranked in the Top 5 when it went to Indiana Tuesday. But since when is it an upset if Indiana beats anyone, and I mean anyone, at home?
Maybe Indiana’s 12-game losing streak to the Badgers made it seem like an upset. But still …
Yes, the Hoosiers are young. Yes, they got waxed at home by Michigan State on Jan. 4, 73-56.
But the Hoosiers have a veteran forward in Will Sheehey, they have a potent point guard in sophomore Yogi Ferrell, and they have an NBA prospect in the middle in freshman Noah Vonleh. Plus, it’s Assembly Hall.
I see Indiana having a really hard time beating any good Big Ten team on the road. But Michigan State, in my mind, went one-up on the rest of the league by winning at IU. Just as Iowa did when it won at Ohio State.
Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio State all have a Smith in their rotations. Indiana and Michigan lean on a Robinson. Illinois and Michigan use a Morgan. Purdue starts two Johnsons, Minnesota starts two Hollins.
But what are the odds that Wisconsin would have a starting forward named Kaminsky and Michigan State would use a sub named Kaminski.
Frank “The Tank” Kaminsky of Wisconsin has had a breakthrough junior season, averaging 13.5 points and 6.1 rebounds.
Last Saturday, Tom Izzo gave previously little-used Kenny Kaminski 23 minutes of game time in the Spartans’ 87-75 overtime win over Minnesota, and the redshirt freshman forward scored a career-high 15 points. All of his points came on 3-pointers. He was 5 of 7 from that distance.
“You guys watched him all last year in practice and God, that kid can really shoot,” Izzo said.
Nebraska is a football state, right? Not in January, it isn’t.
Creighton playing to huge crowds in downtown Omaha is nothing new. The Bluejays are averaging 15,762 fans through 10 home dates. But Nebraska, with its brand-new Pinnacle Bank Arena in downtown Lincoln, has averaged 15,127 fans through its first eight games. And the Cornhuskers are 0-4 in the Big Ten on their way to a long season.
People love new arenas. It’s kind of a shame Iowa doesn’t get to play at Nebraska this year. That’s said because of the arena, not because the Huskers are in the league’s cellar. Besides, Nebraska did beat Miami (which won at North Carolina) at home, and lost its only Big Ten home game so far to Michigan by just one point.
And it’s not as if Iowa doesn’t remember what it’s like to lose at Nebraska in basketball. It happened 11 months ago, and it may have been the margin between the NIT and the NCAA tourney for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa’s leading-scorer, Devyn Marble, is ninth in the league in scoring at 16.4 points per game.
But the league’s leading scorer per 40 minutes played is … Marble.
Marble averages 24.1 points per 40 minutes, 1.3 points more than anyone else in the league. Ferrell is second. Illinois’ Rayvonte Rice, the league’s leading scorer entering the Illini’s game against Purdue Wednesday night, is fifth in points per 40 minutes.
Iowa’s Aaron White is 15th in the conference in scoring, but ninth in points per 40 minutes.
By the way, the national leader for points per 40 minutes is an Iowan, Doug McDermott of Creighton, at 31.6. Nice player.
Who’s ready for Rutgers basketball? The Scarlet Knights start Big Ten play next season. This is their one and only year in the American Athletic Conference, which features Louisville (this year only), Cincinnati, Memphis and Connecticut.
Going into its game tonight against Central Florida, Rutgers is 7-9 overall, 1-2 in the AAC. It has lost to Drexel, William and Mary, Fairleigh Dickinson and Princeton, as well as stalwarts Louisville and Cincinnati.
The league’s other newcomer next year, Maryland, is 10-7 overall and 2-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference entering its home game tonight against Notre Dame. The Terrapins’ last two games were a 79-59 loss at Pittsburgh and an 85-61 thrashing at Florida State.
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