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Big Ten, Polls Have New Leaders, Syracuse Returns to the Court

On Sunday, in Round Two of the No. 20 Michigan (19-7, 11-3) vs. No. 13 Michigan State (22-6, 11-4) battle, the Wolverines again won, 79-70, and now have control of the Big Ten race. They sit one game ahead of their in-state rival and have four regular season games remaining.

Nik Stauskas

Nik Stauskas

Michigan first had to overcome an 11-point deficit in the first half and entered halftime behind by two, 36-34. Fortunately Nik Stauskas showed up after the struggling in the last few games. In the second half he scored 21 of his 25 points for the day and when down  52-51 at the 10:29 mark in the second half, his 3-point jumper, started a 13-0 run. The Wolverines maintained the lead for the rest of the game thanks to its 45 points scored.

Caris LeVert added 23 points for the game and Glenn Robinson III contributed 15 points.

As for Michigan State with its 13 turnovers, Gary Harris was the top scorer with his 21 points while his teammates, who have been dealing with injuries, didn’t fare as well. Adreian Payne had 12 points with 11 rebounds while Keith Appling, who has been battling an injured wrist, scored six points.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was unhappy with the game’s result and said via the Associated Press, “The first game, I was very proud of our effort. This game, we looked tired. I’m not very proud of our effort.”

For the Wolverines, their regular season sweep of Michigan State is only the second time in 15 seasons to do so (the last one was the 2010-2011 season). Should Michigan win the conference, it will be its second time in three years. Their remaining games include two at home versus Minnesota and Indiana with road trips against Purdue and Illinois.

Michigan State’s schedule looks more challenging with home games versus Illinois and No. 16 Iowa along with a road trip to Ohio State.

Vegas has Michigan State at 17/2 and Michigan at 25/1 to win the 2014 Men’s NCAA Basketball Championship.

New No. 1 in the Polls

With its two straight losses last week, Syracuse  (25-2, 12-2) not only saw its 25-0 record blemished but will bid goodbye to its No. 1 ranking. Florida (25-2, 14-2) will take over the top spot with Wichita State (29-0, 16-0), coming in at No. 2 as suggested by CBS Sports.

At 29-0, the Shockers are the first team since Illinois in the 2004-05 season to have this record. Looking ahead, Wichita State will play Bradley on Tuesday and Missouri State on Saturday.

Wichita State sits at 12/1 to win the Big Dance while Florida is 11/2. On Tuesday, the Gators will play Vanderbilt (15-11, 7-7).

Monday’s Top 25 Games

On Monday, there’s two top 25 games including No. 1 Syracuse vs. Maryland and Oklahoma at No. 8 Kansas.

Tyler Ennis and coach Jim  Boeheim

Tyler Ennis and coach Jim Boeheim

For the first time this season, Syracuse is riding a two-game losing streak. The frustration of this was apparent late on Saturday as its veteran coach Jim Boeheim had his now infamous end-of-game meltdown and ejection.

Can the team pull themselves up and defeat Maryland (15-12, 7-7)? It now sits in the second conference spot behind Virginia (23-5, 14-1), and knows these next few games are crucial for March play.

Syracuse will enter the game shooting 35.4 percent over its last three games. Notably weak has been its 3-point game which is 6-for-33 during this time.

Meanwhile, Maryland has lost its last two of three games but has had five days of rest.

The Orange will snap its losing streak on Monday (-4,131 o/u).

In the second game, Oklahoma (20-7, 9-5) will take on Kansas (21-6, 12-2), who leads the nation with its 11 top-50 RPI wins. It has also defeated every Big 12 team it has played this season including its Jan. 8 win over the Sooners, 90-83.

With four games remaining, Kansas has its eyes on winning the Big 12 title (or a share of it) for a 10th consecutive time. It can do so with its Monday win (-10.5, 155 o/u).



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