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Big Ten Tonight Knows What The Sun's All About When The Lights Go Out

Video is sort of NSFW

Last night, Northwestern saw the lights go out on their NCAA chances, as their old defensive issues reared their ugly head. Namely, they can't stop dribble penetration to save their lives.

If you just looked at the box score, you would have thought that Jordan Morgan was dominating Northwestern's centers, but he wasn't: pretty much all he did was hang out near the rim, wait for someone to drive in and draw the defense, then catch the subsequent pass and finish. He deserves some credit for making good cuts and finishing around the rim, but any semi-competent defense would be able to hold him in check; it's just that Northwestern is a god-awful defensive team. Combine the bad defense with a cold-shooting first half, and NU got into a hole they couldn't recover from.

With this loss, it's really not out of the question for Northwestern to finish the Big Ten season in last place. They're currently alone in 9th, one game ahead of Iowa and Indiana, and both those teams have been playing pretty well of late, so NU better get it together soon. That being said, they're only 2 games out of fourth place, so if they finish the season strong, they could end up with a first-round bye in the Big Ten tourney, even at 9-9. There's just such a giant logjam among the bottom two thirds of the conference that pretty much anything can happen.

Tonight's Big Ten action after the jump:

Penn St. Nittany Lions at Michigan St. Spartans (-6), 6 PM central, BTN

This is essentially a bubble elimination game, as the winner improves to 6-6 in the Big Ten while the loser digs themselves a huge hole at 5-7. The key tonight will be the whether Jeff Brooks can play, as he's listed as questionable with the dislocated shoulder he suffered last week. If he can play, I love PSU +6, if not, I'd stay away. We'll see if Michigan State can finally get it together; a loss here and they're not only in serious jeopardy of missing the NCAAs, they'll have to do work to finish at .500 so they can play in the NIT.

Illinois Fighting Illini at Minnesota Golden Gophers (-2), 8 PM central, ESPN

Another game with huge tournament implications, as the winner leaves themselves in good NCAA shape while the loser falls to squarely on the bubble. I've been accused recently of being a huge Talor Battle hater, but I pale in comparison to W from Down with Goldy's hate of Demetri McCamey; at this point I'm starting to wonder if McCamey made a pass at Mrs. W. That said, McCamey has really struggled of late, and given Illinois' inability to do anything away from home, I expect the Gophers to get it done tonight. Take Minnesota and watch Trevor Mbakwe abuse Illinois' soft front line.

Gambling record: 14-11-1