Jackson named Big Ten player of the week

by Todd Zolecki

The Big Ten named Bobby Jackson co-conference Player of the Week after his performances against Michigan and Indiana. The Gophers men’s basketball player averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds in those two games.
Illinois’ Kiwane Garris shared the award with Jackson. The Illini guard averaged 28 points in games against Penn State and Michigan.
Jackson probably earned the award more for his play against the Wolverines than his game against the Hoosiers. He scored 18 points and hit several big shots to lead the Gophers to a 55-54 victory in Crisler Arena.
Those shots included a game-tying jump shot from the baseline with 38 seconds to go and a game-winning free throw with 2.9 seconds left.
The win secured the Gophers’ first league championship since 1982. Minnesota hadn’t won in Ann Arbor, Mich., since their last title.
It’s the third time Jackson has won the award this season and the second time he has won it in as many weeks.
Jackson is being pushed as a strong candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year award.
March madness getting crazy
ù For those keeping track, seven teams have secured automatic bids to the NCAA tournament. The Gophers, Tennessee-Chattanooga, UCLA, Murray State, College of Charleston, Charleston Southern and Princeton are all in.
ù Besides Minnesota, three other Big Ten teams appear to be safe bets for the tournament: Indiana, Iowa and Illinois. Teams on the bubble are Michigan, Purdue and Wisconsin.
ù Boilermakers coach Gene Keady is nervous about Selection Sunday on Mar. 9. Purdue is 16-11 overall and 12-6 in the Big Ten. Despite being second in the league, its overall record might not be good enough to get one of the 32 at-large berths.
The Boilermakers host Illinois on Saturday.
Keady thinks Purdue is in the same position that the Gophers were in last year. Minnesota didn’t get invited despite finishing the regular season 18-12.
“If we win (Saturday), I’m sure we’ll be in because we’ll be in second,” he said. “Well, nothing is sure, but we’ll feel a little more relaxed about it.”
Keady isn’t satisfied with Purdue’s season, having failed to win its fourth-straight league title. He said, however, that his team didn’t do too bad considering it had seven freshmen on a 12-man roster.
Fast break points
ù Jackson is one of ten players on the ballot for the Associated Press’ National Player of the Year. Also nominated from the conference is Iowa guard Andre Woolridge.
Gophers coach Clem Haskins is one of 10 coaches nominated for coach of the year honors.
ù Polls and predictions rarely seem to pan out, and these from ESPN are no exceptions. Its Internet homepage asked fans on Nov. 20 what Big Ten team they thought would win the conference title. The Wolverines placed first with 29 percent of the votes, Indiana took second with 26 percent, and Minnesota took third with 10 percent.
The Wolverines are in eighth place with a 7-9 league record. The Hoosiers are sixth at 8-8. The Gophers, Big Ten champs, are 15-1.
A different poll on the same day asked which Big Ten team is likely to choke in the NCAA tournament. Michigan won that poll receiving 32 percent of the votes. Purdue came in second at 26 percent. The Gophers were fifth at 6 percent.