Big Ten Basketball Betting: Weekly Notebook
by Matt Severance - 12/10/2008
The Iowa Hawkeyes (8-2) will be without their leading scorer for an indefinite period after freshman guard Anthony Tucker was suspended by Coach Todd Lickliter earlier this week in an alcohol-related incident.
Tucker is the team's leading scorer at 13.1 points per game and leads the team with 31 three-point field goals. Freshman Matt Gatens was the only other Hawkeye averaging at least 10 points a game before Tuesday.
What occurred early Sunday morning in Iowa City became public knowledge on Tuesday when Tucker was charged with public intoxication. According to a criminal complaint, Iowa City police officers were dispatched to the alley behind a local bar at 1:10 a.m. Sunday in reference to a passed out male who was later identified as Tucker.
Tucker subsequently was transported to University Hospitals for treatment. His blood-alcohol level before his transfer registered at .194. The legal limit is .08. Public intoxication is a simple misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500.
Tucker met with Lickliter on Sunday morning and told him about the incident, and has already apologized to the team. Sophomore Jake Kelly, normally the sixth man, started Tuesday night in Tucker's place vs. Northern Iowa, the first of three straight in-state rivalry games for the Hawkeyes. Kelly led Iowa with 19 points and now averages 10.1 points per game.
"The nice thing is, we have a lot of contributors," Lickliter said.
If you are wondering how long Tucker may be out, there is a precedent. Walk-on Dan Bohall was arrested for public intoxication last year. He was suspended by Lickliter for seven games.
MICHIGAN: Is the No. 4 coach John Beilein's favorite number or what? UM has beaten the No. 4 team in the country twice this season. The Wolverines' 81-73 home win against Duke last Saturday was preceded by a 55-52 win over UCLA earlier this season. The last time Michigan defeated two top-five teams in the same regular season was 1986-87. The Wolverines are basically a two-man team so far, however, as Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims account for 37.2 of the team's 70.5 points per game average.
MICHIGAN STATE: The Spartans were flat-out embarrassed last Wednesday against top-ranked North Carolina. But they bounced back to beat a solid Bradley team on Sunday to extend their home winning streak to 23 games, sixth in the nation (BYU leads the way with 51). Last Thursday, Spartans center Goran Suton underwent arthroscopic knee surgery after missing all but two games so far. MSU coach Tom Izzo is hopeful Suton can return in time for the Dec. 20 game against Texas, although the Dec. 27 game against Oakland, the last before Big Ten play begins, is more likely.
MINNESOTA: The Gophers are the league's other unbeaten outside of Columbus, giving coach Tubby Smith an 8-0 start for the first time in his career (which is mildly shocking). I'm fairly confident in saying Minnesota, off to its best start since 1976, will get past South Dakota State on Wednesday night even though the Gophers probably won't have second-leading scorer Blake Hoffarber (9.3 ppg) against SDSU. Hoffarber sprained his ankle in a 71-54 win over Cornell last Saturday. Minnesota's next game will be its biggest challenge to date, next week against No. 10 Louisville in Glendale, Ariz.
OHIO STATE: The Buckeyes currently lead the nation with a 10-game winning streak. I'm guessing you didn't know that. They had five consecutive victories to end the 2007-08 season (winning the NIT) and wins in their first five games this year. Pittsburgh is ranked second behind OSU with nine straight. The Buckeyes could see that streak in jeopardy Saturday against Butler, which is unbeaten heading into its Wednesday game against Bradley. The Buckeyes' No. 21 ranking is their first time in the polls since they lost the National Championship Game in April 2006. Still, take Ohio State's wins over ranked teams Miami and Notre Dame last week with a grain of salt. The Hurricanes lost leading scorer Jack McClinton midway through the first half to an ejection, and Irish star Luke Harangody was working back from pneumonia.