Big Ten Basketball Betting: Weekly Notebook
by Matt Severance - 01/27/2009
It's officially panic time in Madison these days. The Wisconsin Badgers were a preseason Top-25 team and a yearly lock for an NCAA Tournament berth. However, four straight losses have the Badgers tied for seventh in the Big Ten at 3-4 (12-7 overall) and in serious need of a few quality wins on their postseason resume.
In fairness, three of the past four losses were road games, with four of Wisconsin's next six at home. But while the Badgers used to be invincible at home, that hasn't been the case this year. UW has dropped two at the Kohl Center, once in conference play. Before this season, it had lost only seven times overall at home since Bo Ryan took over, and just three times in the Big Ten.
The Badgers are also 0-6 against ranked teams this year, so tonight's game with surging Purdue is of the utmost importance for Ryan's club; UW has never dropped five in a row under the coach. Tuesday nights have not been kind to Wisconsin bettors, as UW is 1-6 ATS in the past seven on Tuesday. The Badgers also are 0-6 ATS in the past six against Purdue.
Remember, Wisconsin has reached the 30-win plateau the previous two seasons and is one of only eight teams to have advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of the past 10 seasons.
UW backers will continue to see more of freshman point guard Jordan Taylor. He played 27 minutes and had four points, three assists and a steal in the loss to the Illini and was on the floor at the end of the game for the second straight outing - i.e., he has earned Ryan's trust.
"Let's just put it this way," Ryan told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Jordan Taylor is a man and he's going to play. He's earned it. He was just close, close, close and now it's not close any more. He's going to be on the floor because he'll stick his nose in, he'll get bloody. He's tough."
The Journal Sentinel beat writer speculates the team will use more of a three-guard offense of Taylor, Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon going forward.
NORTHWESTERN: Last week in our Big Ten notebook, I led with Northwestern and the Wildcats' climb to respectability. Well, all NU did last Wednesday was end the nation's third-longest home winning streak in shocking Michigan State in East Lansing.
It was NU's first win at Michigan State in 25 years, the team's first victory over a Top-10 opponent in 15 years and its first road win over a Top-10 team in 56 years. Coupled with the Wildcats' Jan. 18 win over No. 18 Minnesota, it also gave Northwestern consecutive wins over ranked foes for the first time ever. Junior forward Kevin Coble had 31 points in the MSU victory, the most by any player in a Big Ten game this year. He was named co-conference player of the week.
NU followed the Spartans' upset with a loss at Michigan but has two winnable home games this week against struggling teams, Indiana and Wisconsin. The Wildcats might even be favored in both of those games (they are 5-2 ATS at home this year).
MICHIGAN STATE: The Spartans were shocked by Northwestern last Wednesday, ending their 28-game home winning streak and 80-home win streak against unranked teams. But they bounced back impressively with an 11-point win at Ohio State in a building that has been a house of horrors for MSU the past few years. The Spartans improved to 4-0 on the road in the conference for the first time in school history and retained sole possession of first place.
Sophomore Durrell Summers might have made a case for a full-time role in the starting lineup. He scored 26 points in just his third start of the season; his previous career high was 16. Summers only started because starting Kalin Lucas and Travis Walton sat for the first six minutes or so due to an academic issue. Tom Izzo said the issue is now over with those two and there will be no further punishment.
MSU plays at Iowa on Thursday, followed by three straight home games to start February.
INDIANA: Here's your bad news Hoosier update for the week. IU had only one game last week, but that was another loss, the school's ninth in a row. The Hoosiers fell, 67-63, to Minnesota and have lost five consecutive games at Assembly Hall for the first time since 1984-85.
Indiana is at Northwestern on Wednesday and no doubt will be an underdog to the Wildcats for the first time in many years. A home game with Ohio State follows on Saturday. Go ahead, look at Indiana's schedule for the remainder of the season and pick out a game you would be confident in the Hoosiers winning. A winless Big Ten campaign is a definite possibility. Yet IU is a respectable 6-6 against the number so far this year, so the Hoosiers are hanging in most games and they probably should have beaten Minnesota.