I officially feel sorry for Illinois coach Bruce Weber.
He had a win over Indiana and it slipped away.
So now all he can do is move forward.
And get Shaun Pruitt off the line.
|Terrence Williams and the Cardinals have momentum from a victory at No. 16 Marquette. (US Presswire)|
Game worth flying to see in person: It's February. First-place in the Big Ten is on the line. And it's a showdown between ... No. 24 Purdue and No. 8 Wisconsin? Raise your hand if you saw this coming in the preseason. And if you did you really should get your own magazine, because every publication I read (including the one I wrote for) had the Big Ten projected as a two-team race between Michigan State and Indiana with Wisconsin, Purdue and Ohio State battling for third. Instead, either Purdue or Wisconsin will end Saturday night with a 10-1 league record. And whichever school it is will suddenly have the favorite for Big Ten Coach of the Year.
Game worth driving to see in person: Big East voters couldn't settle on a projected champion and instead opted to make Georgetown and Louisville the co-favorites. Seemed reasonable at the time. And though the Hoyas have pretty much met expectations, it's fair to suggest the Cardinals have been disappointing because of injuries and off-the-court problems. Consequently, Saturday's game doesn't have the hype it could've, given how there are five Big East schools ranked in the AP poll and none of them are named Louisville. Still, if the Cardinals win they'll then be just one game back of the Hoyas in the league standings, and that would certainly be enough to launch them into the Top 25.
Game worth watching on TV: With Illinois now safely in his rearview mirror (at least until the Big Ten Tournament), Eric Gordon can now get back to focusing on what he does best, which is relax and attack and score in bunches. Indiana's fabulous freshman will take his 21.8 points per game average into Sunday's contest at Ohio State, and the crowd should be a little less hostile considering Gordon never committed and then decommitted from Ohio State.
Some non-BCS love: Drake is on its way to its first league title since 1971 and first NCAA Tournament appearance in 37 years, and it's all happening under first-year coach Keno Davis. There really might not be a better story in college basketball. And the 15th-ranked Bulldogs will continue their quest for a perfect Missouri Valley Conference record when they host Evansville on Saturday. Heading in, Drake is 21-1 overall, 12-0 in the league and the winner of 20 consecutive games. The Bulldogs' only loss came Nov. 10 at Saint Mary's.
An obvious prediction: Drake will move to 13-0 in the MVC. If the Bulldogs haven't lost yet, they sure as hell aren't going to lose at home to an Evansville team that is 2-10 in the league and at the bottom of the MVC standings.
A crazy prediction (but it might happen anyway): You know my formula for this, right? Find a good unranked team that is hosting a highly ranked team, sit back and look smart. This week that good unranked team is Louisville. The highly ranked team is No. 6 Georgetown. Thus, that's the pick. So don't be surprised if the school that has home losses to Cincinnati and Dayton knocks off the Hoyas at Freedom Hall.
Player trying to keep rolling: It's a really good year for big men, but you knew that already. Tyler Hansbrough gets a ton of attention. So does Kevin Love. And for good reason. But one guy still flying somewhat under the national radar even though he's having a spectacular season is Luke Harangody. The Notre Dame sophomore is averaging 20.4 points and 10.1 rebounds. He's the main reason the 22nd-ranked Irish are 17-4 heading into Saturday's game with No. 16 Marquette. Harangody is averaging 26.8 points and 12.8 rebounds in his past four outings, and that can't be a good sign for the light-up-front Golden Eagles.
Player trying to get rolling: A reporter quizzed Tom Izzo about Drew Neitzel after last weekend's loss at Penn State, just asked whether something was wrong with the Michigan State senior? Izzo explained his star player wasn't injured or sick, then added the following quote: "I don't blame you for asking that question." Ouch. But the truth is the truth, and the truth is that Neitzel hasn't looked like himself lately. He's 6-of-22 from the field and 1-of-11 from 3-point range in the Spartans' past two games with a total of four assists and two turnovers. That's not good. And though Michigan State is more talented than it was last season, that doesn't mean Neitzel doesn't need to be as good as he was last season, which is why Saturday's game against Northwestern would be a nice spot to get things headed in the opposite direction.