It was a wild night in the Big Ten, as Ohio State rallied past Purdue, Illinois survived against Penn State, and Iowa managed to win a game. And I'm here to break it all down, along with tonight's Big Ten action and notes from around the league.
I watched most of the Ohio State/Purdue game and I was very surprised at how badly Purdue choked at the end of the game. The lack of a ball-handling point guard really hurt them, as did the disappearance of JaJuan Johnson who was a non-factor throughout. Evan Turner took the game over late, and the Boilers just had no answers for him. I'm also perplexed at the demise of Keaton Grant, who has gone from one of the better shooters in the conference to a complete stiff in two years. Unfortunately for Northwestern fans, Purdue's next game is Saturday in Evanston, and the Boilers will be desperate to get things back on track.
Penn State finally showed some heart last night and led for much of the game at Illinois, but they eventually went down as Demetri McCamey outplayed Talor Battle down the stretch. Memo to Battle, when you're in the lane with 3 guys on you, it might be a good idea to kick the ball the out instead of trying to shoot over Mike Tisdale, who's a foot taller than you. It didn't appear that passing the ball even crossed Talor's mind down the stretch of that game. While he certainly isn't surrounded by All-Americans, Battle isn't good enough to go one on five against Big Ten teams, and he'll need to start sharing the ball for Penn State to turn things around.
And Iowa barely escaped over Tennessee State, not surprisingly. Vegas is going to catch on soon and stop overrating Iowa, I'm hoping it takes them a little while longer though.
Last night in ACC play, NC State got a very surprising road win over #25 Florida State, which is certainly good for Northwestern. Tonight Iowa State gets a chance to salvage their season as they host #1 Texas. Doug Gottlieb on ESPN the other night picked Iowa State to win, unfortunately I don't see it as the Cyclones have really been struggling lately. Onto the picks for tonight.
Big Ten games: 8-4
Northwestern games: 7-0
Minnesota at Michigan State (-7), 5:30 PM central. BTN
I saw an interesting stat last night during the BTN postgame show: Minnesota has lost 37 consecutive road games against ranked opponents. What does that have to do with tonight? Almost nothing, as the vast majority of those losses came during the forgettable Dan Monson era. As for who to pick tonight, I've gone back and forth several times, but with how much Michigan State has turned the ball over recently combined with Minnesota being great at forcing turnovers, I guess I'll take the Gophers and the points.