March 1st, 2011
Player of the Week
Purdue continued its march up the polls and towards a top two seeding in the NCAA tournament this week with a pair of road wins over rivals Indiana and Michigan State. As has been the case all year, the Boilermakers were led by their senior stars. JaJuan Johnson was nothing short of dominant. In their game at Indiana, Johnson helped build a big early lead. He had 11 points to open up a 13-point lead early in the second half. The Hoosiers attempted to mount a run outscoring Purdue 16-6 over the next eight minutes, but before too much damage could be done Johnson hit a jumper and got an and-one on successive possessions to allow Purdue to regain control for good. Against Michigan State, Johnson had a double-double by halftime and finished the game with 20 points, 17 rebounds and 7 blocks in a 67-47 win. Those 17 rebounds were a career-high. He finished the week averaging 20 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks per game.
Michigan to make a play for 4/5 spot
While the Wolverines were not able to pull off the upset of Wisconsin on Wednesday, they were able to get big come from behind win on the road against Minnesota to save face for the week. With one more regular season conference game, Michigan is 8-9 in the league. If they beat 8-8 Michigan State at home, they will likely be tied with Illinois (who is 8-8 with a game at Purdue and one versus Indiana) at 9-9. Penn State is 8-8 with a game against Ohio State and Minnesota left. The Wolverines then would have a .500 record in league play with regular season sweeps over Penn State and Michigan State on their resume. If they could then beat Illinois in the 4/5 game, they would have played themselves into a favorable bubble position. It is still a lot of ifs, but nobody could have imagined Michigan even giving themselves this chance when they were 11-9 overall with a 1-6 mark in the Big Ten.
We’re down to the final week of the regular season and we have some conference races coming down to the wire. Pitt’s loss at Louisville puts the Big East up for grabs, while the ACC will come down to a showdown between Duke and North Carolina next Saturday. Purdue kept itself within striking distance of Ohio State, while Kansas pulled even with Texas in the Big 12. Meanwhile, BYU virtually clinched the Mountain West crown with its biggest win of the season at San Diego State.
Utah: Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, 2011 first-round draft pick, 2012 first-round draft pick from Golden State, and cash considerations
New Jersey: Deron Williams
Player of the Week