Big Ten Basketball Betting: Weekly Notebook
by Matt Severance - 11/25/2008
We should get to see how good the Michigan State Spartans can be over the next week as Tom Izzo's club heads to the Old Spice Classic in Orlando.
The fifth-ranked Spartans face Maryland in the first round of the tournament on Thursday. Michigan State will face either No. 9 Gonzaga or Oklahoma State in the second round, and teams like Tennessee and Georgetown are in the other half of the bracket.
Then looming is a Dec. 3 game against No. 1 North Carolina at Ford Field - site of this year's Final Four.
"It seems like it heats up quickly for us now, with the games we have coming up," Izzo said.
Unfortunately for Spartans bettors, Michigan State could have a big hole in the middle for a while as starting center Goran Suton has a left knee injury and might not play in the Old Spice Classic. Izzo said Suton may need arthroscopic surgery.
That would be an immense blow as Suton is the team's best rebounder, and freshman power forward and top recruit Delvon Roe is coming off knee surgeries and likely can't be counted on yet for heavy minutes.
INDIANA: It's going to be quite a long season for the Hoosiers if Monday's 88-50 loss to Notre Dame in the Maui Invitational is any indication. While the Irish started three seniors and two juniors who had 372 college games of experience and 205 career starts, IU started four freshmen and a junior-college transfer who combined for 42 college games.
Still, one bright spot in the loss was Tom Pritchard, who more than held his own with reigning Big East Player of the Year Luke Harangody, one of the strongest players in the nation. Pritchard matched Harangody's 14 points and had a team-high six rebounds in 33 minutes.
Plus, there was good news from the NCAA this week as the Hoosiers got three years probation from the NCAA for recruiting violations under former men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson but were not be further penalized. The NCAA infractions committee accepted IU's self-administered sanctions, including a loss of a scholarship for this season and extended recruiting limitations, as sufficient.
MICHIGAN: Michigan's upset of UCLA last week was UM's first win over a Top 5 team since 1997 and its first victory against a ranked team under coach John Beilein. Not bad for a team that lost a school-record 22 games last season.
"That's big for our confidence, beating a No. 4-ranked team," Wolverines star Manny Harris said. "Our team was confident before, but now it's on a whole level."
Michigan followed the UCLA win with a close loss to Duke, but in a scheduling quirk UM gets a rematch with the Blue Devils on Dec. 6 in Ann Arbor.
PURDUE: Despite being 4-0, Purdue is shooting just 32.9 percent on three-pointers; of course, this year the line has been moved back a foot. Last year the Boilermakers shot 37.3 percent, including 39.6 in Big Ten play. Reason to panic?
"We're shooting too many threes and are not making a high percentage. We have to probe the defense more and move the ball," coach Matt Painter said.
The Boilers next play Boston College on Wednesday in the Preseason NIT semifinals in New York. The other semifinal features Oklahoma against Alabama-Birmingham, meaning Purdue might have to deal with Sooners All-American Blake Griffin if the Boilers can get past BC.
ON A ROLL: Entering Tuesday, eight of the Big Ten teams remain unbeaten, with Wisconsin and Indiana suffering their first losses on Monday. Illinois is off to a 4-0 start for the first time since 2006-07; Minnesota is 4-0 for its best start since the 2002-03 campaign; Northwestern is 3-0, its best opening since going 9-0 to begin the 1993-94 season.