Last year, three Big Ten teams — Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan — tied for the regular-season championship at 13-5. Michigan coach John Beilein said Monday he wouldn't be shocked if a six-loss team claimed the title this season.
“This league is so strong,'' he said. “It's going to be very challenging.''
Ohio State coach Thad Matta didn't argue.
“I think it's possible, I really do,'' he said. “Last year, teams won it with five losses. It's probably a little more competitive this year than last year, as scary as that sounds.
“When you look across college basketball at some of the scores, it shows you the parity. Then you couple that in the Big Ten with how good this league is and if you have an off night, you're not going to win.''
Co-players of the week: Indiana center Cody Zeller and Ohio State wing Deshaun Thomas. Zeller, a 7-foot sophomore from Washington, Ind., averaged 16.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in two wins. Thomas, a 6-7 junior from Fort Wayne, Ind., averaged 21 points and 5.5 rebounds in two wins.
Rookie of the week: Wisconsin wing Sam Dekker. The 6-7 freshman from Sheboygan, Wis., had 13 points and four rebounds in a win over Illinois.
Quote of the week
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo on still being puzzled about his team:
“This is the weirdest 14-3 team that I've ever been involved with here.''
Bits and pieces
Michigan State sophomore guard Brandon Kearney, who despite playing 17 minutes a game left the team after the first semester, will transfer to Arizona State. ... Nebraska coach Tim Miles said a last-second alley-oop dunk in a 10-point loss at Michigan State didn't bother him. “It's part of the game,'' he said. ... The status of Husker forward Brandon Ubel (elbow) for Wednesday's game with Purdue won't be known until after practice Tuesday at the earliest, Miles said.