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February 12, 2013

Around the Big Ten: Weekend Rewind

A look at the week that was for U-M's top competition in the race for the Big Ten crown …

No. 1 Indiana: 21-3 (9-2)

After a shocking 74-72 loss to a struggling Illinois team Feb. 7, Indiana was impressive in a dominating 81-68 win over Ohio State Feb. 10. Junior Victor Oladipo continues to emerge as one of the most athletic and dynamic guards in the country, and exploded for 26 points and eight boards against OSU on 8-of-10 shooting (80.0 percent). Despite the loss to the Illini, Indiana maintained the No. 1 spot in the AP poll, and appears to have a rare painless week on the horizon in conference play as they host Nebraska (Feb. 13) and Purdue (Feb. 16).

Zak Keefer - The Indianapolis Star: "He goes about his business with a primal aggression that is often punctuated by high-flying theatrics, the constant byproduct of a stubborn nose on defense.

"Or, better put by CBS' Clark Kellogg on Sunday afternoon: "Victor Oladipo is like a baby's bottom, smooth and sometimes explosive."

"Not an hour after compiling as complete a 33-minute basketball game as you'll witness this college season, Oladipo, Indiana's do-it-all junior guard, calmly emerged from the visitor's locker room. He spoke softly and slowly. The tone of the emerging Player of the Year candidate belied his confidence."

No. 8 Michigan State: 20-4 (9-2)

While Indiana and Michigan have carried the conference banner on the national stage in recent weeks, Michigan State just continues to win. Victorious in 10 of their last 12 games, the Spartans once again sit atop the Big Ten standings heading into an integral Feb. 12 matchup with U-M. MSU is undefeated at the Breslin Center this season, and the clash between the two in-state foes is the first in the history of rivalry with both teams ranked in the top 10. The Green and White close out the week with a trip to Nebraska Feb. 16.

Ricardo Cooney - SpartanMag.com: "Junior guard and captain Keith Appling showed his maturity, focus and true understanding of the significance of No. 8 Michigan State's game against No. 4/5 Michigan by artfully dodging bulletin board material questions about whether he was better than U-M's Trey Burke, about whether U-M was better than MSU (20-4, 9-2 Big Ten) and about hatred of your rival.

"Instead, Appling, admitted a different feeling playing against Michigan (21-3, 8-3) as a junior as opposed to the first time he had a significant role in the course of a series that has seen MSU win 10 of the last 15 but has also seen the Wolverines capture three of the last four matchups."

No. 20 Wisconsin: 17-7 (8-3)

Wisconsin hit an unlikely half-court buzzer beater to send its Feb. 9 tilt with Michigan into overtime, and would outscore the Wolverines 5-2 in the extra session to capture a critical 65-62 win. The emotional triumph, alongside a 74-70 double-overtime victory over Iowa earlier in the week, firmly cemented the Badgers as a darkhorse force in the Big Ten race. Now tied for second in the conference standings with the Maize and Blue, Bo Ryan's squad, which has won four of its last five games, travels to Minnesota Feb. 14 before hosting Ohio State Feb. 17.

Jim Polzin- The Wiscosin State Journal:"There's no more flying below the radar for junior guard Ben Brust and the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team.

"Two days after producing one of the most jaw-dropping moments in program history, Brust was named Big Ten Conference co-player of the week Monday.

"Later in the day, the Badgers moved back into the national rankings, checking in at No. 20 in the Associated Press poll and No. 19 in the USA Today coaches' poll after extending their winning streak to three games with thrilling home victories over Iowa and No. 3 Michigan."

No. 13 Ohio State: 17-6 (7-4)

Ohio State came up empty against conference heavyweights Michigan and Indiana, dropping both matchups. Suddenly two games behind the conference leader, the Buckeyes need a perfect week to remain in title contention. OSU hosts Northwestern Feb. 14 before traveling to the vaunted Kohl Center in Madison to face a surging Wisconsin squad Feb. 17. Despite the arduous week, junior forward Deshaun Thomas continued his push for Big Ten Player of the Year honors, averaging 21.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 42.5 minutes per game against two of the Big Ten's elite squads.

Bob Baptist - The Columbus Dispatch: "All good things must end, and this one did for Ohio State with a three-point loss at Michigan followed by a setback at home to Indiana. The Buckeyes had not had back-to-back losses in 121 consecutive games, the longest such run among NCAA Division I teams. The streak dated to January 2010, when the Buckeyes opened the Big Ten season without an injured Evan Turner and lost at Wisconsin and Michigan. The last time they had lost consecutive games with a completely healthy lineup was in 2008."


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