Wisconsin Purdue

No. 17 Wisconsin takes hit in Big Ten title race with loss to Purdue

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Long before TCU beat Kansas, we knew that this college basketball season was not going to follow much of a logical path. Penn State’s win over Michigan only confirmed that. Sunday at the Kohl Center in Madison it might not have been an upset of the magnitude of the two aforementioned games, but Purdue ousted No. 17 Wisconsin, 69-56, to hurt the Badgers in the race for the Big Ten regular season title.

Wisconsin had won six of its previous seven games. Purdue had lost six of its last eight. The Badgers had won 68 of their previous 70 at the Kohl Center against unranked Big Ten team. But, as we learned, conventional logic can take a seat on the sidelines.

The Badgers, a Top 60 rebounding team, were outrebounded by 10 and shot just 40 percent from the floor. D.J. Byrd had 22 points, including 6-of-9 shooting from three-point range.

But the important part is not the game itself, but rather the state of the Big Ten race.

Wisconsin was fortunate to draw one of the more favorable back stretches in the Big Ten. Its final five games were against Northwestern and Nebraska, taken care of, Sunday’s game against Purdue, one tough road game against No. 9 Michigan State, and finishing up with Penn State.

Indiana, by contrast, had Michigan State, Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio State, and Michigan. But, with this loss, Wisconsin now needs the Hoosiers to lose their final two games and the Badgers need to win both of theirs to pull into a tie atop the Big Ten race. How feasible is that? Indiana already traveled to Columbus and beat Ohio State, and will soon to welcome the Buckeyes to Bloomington. The Hoosiers also beat Michigan earlier this year.

The Hoosiers currently sit at 13-3, being chased by Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. And the road just got a whole lot tougher for coach Bo Ryan and the Badgers, especially considering that Indiana controls its own destiny.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Akron reveals special bobble heads for LeBron, high school teammates

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When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.

LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.

Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).

All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.

NEW PODCAST: Indiana, Cal, troublesome trends and a weekend preview

California's Jabari Bird celebrates a score against Oregon in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.

Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.