It’s well-documented that the Gophers men’s basketball team, despite being 0-6 in the Big Ten, has had a chance to win each of its games.
Minnesota’s chances don’t get any better than they will on Saturday. The Gophers host Ohio State, the closest team in the conference in terms of matching their futility.
The Buckeyes are 0-5 in the Big Ten, and have lost a school record-tying 11 straight conference games over a two-year span. The Gophers, meanwhile, haven’t lost seven Big Ten games in a row since 1991. Something has to give.
Without freshman sensation Michael Redd, it almost assuredly would be Ohio State. The 6-5 Redd, a hometown kid from Columbus, Ohio, has burst on the scene in a big way, leading the Big Ten in scoring in conference games with 21.8 points per game.
“He’s one of the best freshmen in the country,” Gophers coach Clem Haskins said.
For Minnesota, forward Sam Jacobson said after its 65-57 loss to Michigan on Tuesday that his sprained back has continued to improve.
“I don’t even think about it when I’m the court,” he said.
Haskins didn’t think so by the way Michigan played Tuesday night in its ugly 65-57 win, but the Wolverines were motivated by last season’s Minnesota victory at Crisler Arena, in which the Gophers clinched the Big Ten championship.
After the game, the Gophers cut down the nets, a ceremony not forgotten by Michigan players.
“I thought it was a disgrace to us for them to come in here and cut down our nets,” center Robert Traylor said.
Added forward Maceo Baston: “It was an extra incentive. Hopefully we can do that at the end of the year.”
If they do, Haskins said he wouldn’t care if it happened at Williams Arena.
“We didn’t go there last year to rub it in,” he said. “If they win the Big Ten title on our floor, I’d give them the same opportunity.”
For sale: Carver-Hawkeye
Iowa was thumped at home for the second time this season on Wednesday, losing 78-57 to Michigan State. The Hawkeyes are now 1-2 in the Big Ten at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, but they have stayed near the top of the standings thanks to their 3-0 road record in the conference.
Coach Tom Davis thinks part of that unusual disparity is due to his team’s youth, which includes two freshmen in the backcourt, Ricky Davis and Dean Oliver.
“At home, they feel more comfortable, Davis said. “They don’t feel that intenseness you feel when you go on the road, to places you’ve never been and the crowd is hostile. That gets you ready to play.
“As they get older, I think it works in reverse. Being at home, you get yourself ready. On the road, they’ve been through that. It’s like, ‘Oh, man, I’m putting up with this again’ — kind of negative thinking rather than positive.”
Refs not in foul mood
The Big Ten has long been known for its physical play, but Illinois coach Lon Kruger thinks the roughhousing has gotten to the point that it makes for less entertaining basketball.
The Illini beat Wisconsin 62-48 on Wednesday in a game in which 41 personal fouls were called — not an inordinately high number. Still, referee Ed Hightower had to gather both teams at one point and warn them about the rough play.
“I think it’s a case where the officials in the game can’t call it by the printed rules,” Kruger said. “Otherwise, everyone is in foul trouble. It seems like there are more and more games where the scores are going lower and lower.”
Off the dribble
ù From the Will They Ever Learn Dept.: Two days after televising the unsightly Michigan-Minnesota game, ESPN offered this equally hideous follow-up — 1-4 Northwestern at 1-3 Penn State. Both teams’ sole conference wins came against the Gophers.
ù Michigan and Michigan State are tied for the Big Ten lead at 5-1. The last time the Wolverine state held the top two spots in the conference was 1966, when Michigan finished a game ahead of Michigan State.