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February 10, 2010

The scene with six games left

First, MSU-Purdue gamer and notebook. The Boilermakers' victory has reshaped the Big Ten race.

    And over in Madison, another team that rarely loses at home was stung by surging Illinois. Is there anyone playing better basketball in the Big Ten right now than Illinois' catalyst, Demetri McCamey? I don't think so.
    After going through all the comments from last night, it's good to see some level-headedness among the obligatory panic. Not that there isn't reason for heavy concern with this team. But if the Spartans can regroup and cobble together a pair of road wins at Penn State and Indiana, they'll "rejoin the human race," as Tom Izzo likes to say. And they'll finally get some of the extra rest and prep time (five days for OSU, seven for Purdue) that their recent competitors have had at their expense.
    Based on some of the comments from MSU's players last night, Matt Painter tweaked some things with his offense, turning screeners into backdoor cutters at times, and that caught the Spartans off guard. That doesn't excuse all the slow reaction, bad communication and Purdue layups, but it sounds like the Boilermakers hit the outside corner with some curveballs.
    Here's a little preview of an info box for Thursday's paper on the contenders:

Five alive
Here are the remaining games between the five contenders for the Big Ten title. Illinois and Ohio State each have four such games, Purdue has three, MSU has two and Wisconsin has one. If everyone holds serve at home and beats the non-contenders, MSU and Purdue will finish in a tie for first at 14-4.
Ohio State at Illinois, Sunday
Purdue at Ohio State, Feb. 17
Illinois at Purdue, Feb. 20
Ohio State at MSU, Feb. 21
MSU at Purdue, Feb. 28
Illinois at Ohio State, March 2
Wisconsin at Illinois, March 6 or 7

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Joe Rexrode
MSU Sports Reporter
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