Marquette: The Golden Eagles are struggling right now. They have lost three of their last four games, and are now on the road for two straight games at Louisville and at St. Louis. Now they have an injury to a big time player to worry about. All-everything point guard Travis Diener sat out Monday’s practice after re-aggravating an ankle injury he had earlier this season. Diener is absolutely not at 100 percent, and was shuttled in and out of the line up on Saturday vs. Charlotte because of the injury. Marquette lost that game at home by 10 points. He did score 15 points and dish out seven assists, but he was unable to get the normal lift on his jump shot. Diener averages 20 points per game for the Golden Eagles, and might be more important to his team than anyone else in Conference USA. If he can’t play, Marquette is in trouble. To add insult to injury, Diener’s primary back up Joe Chapman, missed Monday’s practice with the flu. Senior starter Marcus Jackson and reserve Todd Townsend are also still recovering from the flu bug, which has been running through players and coaches as of late.
Minnesota: Forward Jeff Hagen, one of the Gophers' key players, sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee last Wednesday at Ohio State and was not nearly 100 percent last Saturday vs. Michigan State. Hagen, who is Minnesota’s second leading scorer and rebounder, played 26 minutes with a brace and was limping noticeably. The brace he wore also gave him blisters around his knee. Minnesota head coach Dan Monson said he didn’t know until close to game time if Hagen would play or not. Hagen put up some very good numbers despite his injury, scoring 16 points and grabbing six boards. As of now, he’s hoping to play again on Wednesday vs. Indiana, however that won’t be known until closer to game time.
Michigan: The Wolves were getting a bit closer to full strength when they took another setback last Saturday in their home loss to Wisconsin. Late in the game, point guard Daniel Horton, who already missed six games with a sprained left knee earlier this season, injured his right knee. He had to be carried off the floor. As of this writing, there is no update on his injury, however we’ve been told it doesn’t appear at this point to be too serious. However, Horton was also charged this week on one count of domestic abuse for allegedly choking his girlfriend on December 10th. He has been suspended indefinitely because of that incident and that distraction also won’t help matters with this team. Also, starting forward Chris Hunter missed his fifth consecutive game last Saturday due to an ankle injury. Hunter, who averages 11 PPG, is optimistic about seeing action this Thursday at Michigan State. He feels he is very close to getting back on the court.
Northwestern: The Wildcats were shorthanded last Saturday vs. Penn State, and could be again Wednesday when they host Iowa. NU starting center, Mike Thompson, who is the Cats top rebounder and number two scorer, has been suspended by head coach Bill Carmody. Apparently, Thompson has failed to attend some of his classes which is a must at Northwestern. The tricky part on this is, Carmody suspended him for an undisclosed amount of time. That means he could be out for a few weeks or he could be back on the court on Wednesday. As of right now, this has not be revealed. Oh by the way, Northwestern lost at Penn State, 65-62, last Saturday without Thompson in the line up.
Bowling Green: Talk about bad luck. Bowling Green starter Germain Fitch injured his knee last Saturday in the Falcons' postgame celebration. BG came from 17 points down to beat arch rival Toledo, 70-69. After the game, the fans poured onto the court and Fitch’s knee was hit from behind during the onrush. He suffered a deep bone bruise to his left knee, which had already been surgically repaired two times. He has not practiced since Saturday, and the injury hasn’t gotten any better. There is a good chance he will miss Wednesday’s game at Central Michigan. Fitch averages four PPG and four RPG for the 11-4 Falcons.
Ball State: Leading rebounder and second leading scorer Terrance Chapman injured his shoulder on Saturday vs. Western Michigan, and was unable to play the final 25 minutes of that upset. The Cardinals ended up beating Western Michigan, 66-65. The score was 66-65 with nearly 3:00 minutes remaining, and no one scored a point down the stretch. The win ended WMU’s 25-game home winning streak. That was quite an accomplishment, with possibly their best player not in the line up. Chapman averages 15 PPG and nine RPG, and is questionable on Tuesday at Akron.
Wisconsin: On Tuesday night, the Badgers put their 38-game home winning streak on the line vs. top-ranked Illinois (19-0). Here are some amazing stats about the nation’s longest current home winning streak. Of the 38 games won, the Badgers average winning margin is nearly 21 points. Only FIVE of the 38 wins have been by less than 10 points. Wisconsin has trailed in the second half for only seven of those games. Before this season’s Michigan State game, UW had trailed for less than 11 total minutes in the second half of its previous 37 home games. MSU led for nearly 18 minutes in the second half before blowing the lead late. Win or lose on Tuesday night, those are some pretty hefty numbers. Reserve forward/center Brian Butch injured his Achilles on Saturday at Michigan, and was in a boot on Sunday. He rode a stationery bike on Monday, but did not practice. We would be very surprised if he played on Tuesday night.
Indiana: Don’t look now but these "young" Hoosiers are starting to play some pretty good basketball. They have won seven of their last eight games, and stand in a three-way tie for second place in the Big Ten with Wisconsin and Michigan State. Three of their top-five scorers are true freshman, who are finally starting to come into their own. Head coach Mike Davis has stated that his freshman are "now beginning to play like sophomores" which is good. Part of their recent success could be due to their young players "baptism by fire" during the non conference slate. IU played an incredibly hard schedule early this year against teams that included North Carolina, Connecticut, Notre Dame, Kentucky, Missouri and Charlotte. It looks like the tough scheduling may have paid off for the Hoosiers, as they are now in the middle of conference play.
Toledo: If the Rockets could ever learn how to hold a lead on the road, they would be outstanding. Toledo is just 1-3 SU on the road in the MAC this year, but they have had significant leads in all of those games. The Rockets most recent road game at Bowling Green, they led 34-17 at half only to lose by one-point, 70-69. At Buffalo, they led by 15 points only to lose by five. At Eastern Michigan, Toledo led 63-55 well into the second half only to lose once again, 75-70. The one conference road win was at Marshall and that wasn’t easy. Toledo led in that game, 40-22, but watched the Herd cut the lead to just two points with four minutes to go. The Rockets ended up winning the game by nine. Toledo now travels to Ohio on Wednesday night. We’ll see if the same scenario falls into place again. A hot start and a bad second half.
Purdue: Boiler back-up point guard Bryant Dillon is now out for the season. He ruptured his patella tendon in practice last week. The junior college transfer had started to play well as of late and took a lot of the ball handling load off of starting PG Brandon McKnight’s shoulders. His loss is key. Now walk-on Chris Hartley, who figured very little in Purdue’s plans this year, is the first guard off the bench. After playing very little this year, Hartley was called upon to play 22 minutes in the Boilers 14-point loss at Iowa last Saturday. He scored a career-high nine points in that game.
Nebraska: The Huskers look like they will get a nice boost in the near future. Forward Jason Dourisseau, who has missed the past two games with an ankle injury is expected to return soon. While head coach Barry Collier isn’t sure if he’ll be back for Wednesday’s game vs. Texas A&M, he expects him to definitely be back on the court this Saturday when the Huskers travel to Texas Tech. Dourisseau was averaging nine PPG, six RPG and 27 MPG before the injury.