Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Get Gamm – Week Nine
Just nine games on tap this week and the Big Ten crown is already clinched. Don’t let that be an excuse to tune out, however. Teams like Purdue, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, maybe even Indiana are still very much playing for their tournament lives. Each can help or hinder themselves greatly with good results this week.

Indiana and Purdue have the most to gain with cupcakes gracing the slate this week. Iowa can also help itself immensely by taking care of Penn State and making a statement in the regular season finale against Illinois. The Illini would silence any speculation that they still reside on the bubble by getting a very rare road win. Michigan probably needs to sweep its rivals AND win two or more in Chicago to get a sniff, and that makes them dangerous.

Ohio State and Wisconsin can’t get any better or worse when it comes to Big Ten standings but would like to finish strong. Michigan State would love to parlay the recent string of success had at home to a big road win or two and make a case for maybe even a 5 seed in the Big Dance.

So you see, there is plenty at stake this week, not to mention the seeds 3-11 for the Big Ten Tournament next week…

This Week in the Big Ten:
February 27 – Michigan State at Michigan
February 28 – Indiana at Northwestern
February 28 – Iowa at Penn State
February 28 – Minnesota at Purdue
March 3 – Michigan State at Wisconsin
March 3 – Illinois at Iowa (Tiebreaker)
March 3 – Northwestern at Purdue
March 3 – Ohio State at Michigan
March 3 – Penn State at Indiana

Michigan is in dire need of at least one statement win if it wants to even get a glance from the NCAA Selection Committee. At least one. First thing’s first – a date with rival Michigan State. The Spartans have owned the Wolverines for going on ten years and have only been picked off by the maize and blue twice in 16 meetings. Both were in Ann Arbor. What little assistance Maize Rage might be able to offer will be rendered even less useful since the students are on Spring Break. Michigan’s desperation and Drew Neitzel’s battle with the flu are the two reasons why the Wolverines could win this game. That said, MSU plays too tough on defense and the glass and Michigan doesn’t pressure the ball enough to cause MSU to have an avalanche of turnovers. Michigan State 63 – Michigan 59.

Northwestern is due for one of those late season shocking upsets at Welsh Ryan. This is the last chance for that and to save any hopes of a postseason berth. Indiana has been struggling of late and I wonder what playing Wisconsin and Ohio State twice (rather than once) each this season would mean for the Hoosiers’ tourney hopes? Indiana is sliding towards the bubble but a win here means important breathing room. Indiana 61 – Northwestern 53.

Iowa is one of those teams that based on conference play, probably should be strongly considered for the Big Dance. Trouble is, the Hawkeyes bombed in the pre-conference portion of the season and that means Iowa needs this one and likely two or three more to get consideration. Penn State has had a miserable run this season, shocking given the decent talent on the roster. Like NU, I am surprised they haven’t had that upset win at home yet. And they won’t. Iowa 71 – Penn State 64.

Purdue is another team that just needs wins. The good news for the Boilers is that given their OOC success, they are ahead of Iowa in the pecking order. The bad news is, aside from Indiana and Michigan State, who have they taken out of note lately? Minnesota puts up a fight in every single game, which gives them a chance. But, I fully expect Purdue to take care of business. Purdue 68 – Minnesota 60.

This rematch is all about righting the ship, facing life without Brian Butch, Senior Day and payback. The outcome might be more predictable if Wisconsin had all of the above and the Big Ten title on the line, but alas the losses to MSU and OSU last week make this nothing more than the last regular season game for the Badgers. Part of me says that the Badgers will get a decent measure of payback, but another part wonders if they’ll be into the game as much with the two seed in the Big Ten tourney locked up and a one or two in the NCAA all but a shoe in. Senior Day is the difference in another classic MSU – Wisconsin battle. Wisconsin 63 – Michigan State 57.

Illinois’ trip to Iowa is the biggest game of the week – the one with the most meaning. It probably will have a bearing on the seeding for the Big Ten Tournament and certainly offers Illinois a chance to be firmly in the NCAA Tourney. It also gives Iowa a really big chance to make a late statement to the Selection Committee. Senior Day in Iowa will be one last chance for Haluska to shine bright. Iowa 64 – Illinois 62.

Northwestern could sneak up on Purdue, but it’s not likely. There isn’t much to say except this could solidify Purdue as a tournament team as well. Purdue 68 – Northwestern 49.

Much like Wisconsin, Ohio State has little to play for. Well, if pride and another win over hated Michigan is considered little. To remove any doubt of whether or not the Buckeyes deserve a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance, a big win in Ann Arbor could be key. After a tough loss at home against Michigan State, this one spells N-I-T for Michigan. Ohio State 78 – Michigan 70.

A carbon copy of Northwestern-Purdue. A chance for Indiana to erase some doubt. Indiana 74 – Penn State 56.


Andy Gamm said...

Now, on to the loss. Tough one. I have to honestly say that Michigan might have played the most as a team as I have seen them in the Amaker era. I could sense his and his player's urgency. Nice win for them. I can't say I didn't expect it after seeing Neitzel in full warmups at the onset of the game. Kid gave it his all and then some. I have to wonder if a 100% Drew means win 15 of 17 in the series?

Enough others stepped up - Suton and Raymar - but there were one too many rim outs and missed FTs. Speaking of which, end of game disparity aside, what gives with M outshooting us something like 65 to 25 from the line the last two trips to Crisler?

Dan Meyer said...

The Big Ten Tourney is now HUGE! I think IU survives even a quarterfinal upset by Penn State, but four, maybe five other teams have their tourney future decided this week--AND the Big Ten could end up with anywhere from three to six teams in the Big Dance. I believe that Illinois, Michigan State and Purdue have to make semifinals to be safe; Iowa and Michigan might get in by making Big Ten Tourney championship game, even if they lose. Actual tourney picks later, hint--based on past Big Ten Tourney history, my Iowa - Purdue pick would have to be called a biased pick.

Andy Gamm said...

Dan - NO WAY State is out unless some favorites lose in conference tourneys and the Spartans lose to NU. Look at the body of work. With three starters battling the flu and several in deep foul trouble, it took a clutch, well defended three to beat us on the road against a No. 5 team. MSU lost four games by 2 points this year. Three to tourney teams on the road or neutral site (OSU, WIS and Maryland).

Big Ten gets five or six. More when I post this week.