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College Hoops Midwest Report

   by ASA - 02/11/2011

Each week, we will take an inside look at some key injuries and developments in College Basketball’s heartland. Michigan State Spartans Michigan State has dropped five of its last seven games and is in danger of missing the tournament. The Spartans were off back-to-back 20-plus point losses to Iowa and Wisconsin before getting a much-needed win over Penn State on Thursday night. They may have suffered yet another set-back as starting forward Delvon Roe suffered an apparent knee injury. After the game, coach Tom Izzo said he wasn't sure of Roe's status. Roe’s current status is questionable for MSU’s next game on Tuesday. We noted last week how Michigan State already dismissed guard Korie Lucious for the rest of the season. Losing another starter would be a huge blow for Sparty. Roe is fourth in scoring, second in rebounding, and the top shot blocker for MSU. The Spartans have a brutal stretch of games upcoming; at Ohio State, vs. Illinois, and at Minnesota. If Roe is unable to play, you may find value against MSU. Louisville Cardinals The injury bug has hit Louisville harder than any other team in the nation. Seven players have missed time because of various injuries but things may be looking up for the Cardinals. Leading scorer Preston Knowles (14.8 points per game) returned to the lineup on Wednesday after missing Louisville’s last game with a hamstring injury. The Cards could get back two more reinforcements on Saturday as forward Rakeem Buckles (broken finger) and center Gorgui Dieng (concussion) both practiced Thursday. Buckles, Louisville's leading rebounder, hasn't played since December and has missed the Cards’ first 11 Big East games. Dieng, the team’s top shot blocker, has missed four games after sustaining a concussion on Jan. 26. Minnesota Golden Gophers Minnesota is another team that has been overwhelmed with bad news. Reserve forward Mo Walker tore ligaments in his knee, junior guard and third leading scorer Devoe Joseph left the team, and starting point guard and the leagues leader in steals, Al Nolen, broke his foot. Without Nolen, Minnesota lacks a true point guard and offensive facilitator. Minnesota has now dropped four straight games and is 1-4 overall without Nolen. Blake Hoffarber is playing out-of-position at point guard and has 18 turnovers compared to just 11 assists in the new role. Penn State Nittany Lions Jeff Brooks, PSU’s leading rebounder and second leading scorer, was back on the floor for Penn State on Thursday night. Brooks dislocated his shoulder against Illinois on February 1 and missed PSU’s last game against Michigan. Brooks, normally a starter, came off the bench for the Nittany Lions last night and played 33 minutes and scored 15 points on a perfect six-of-six shooting night. Penn State has now dropped three straight games and five of its last seven games. The once promising hopes of a tournament bid are slipping away. Kansas Jayhawks Super-freshman guard Josh Selby missed the past two games for the Jayhawks while suffering from a stress reaction in his foot. Selby is expected to return on Saturday vs. Iowa State, though he is still listed as ‘questionable’. Selby is the team’s third leading scorer at 12 points per game, but Kansas’ offense didn’t seem to miss a beat without him. The Jayhawks scored 86 and 103 points in two wins while shooting a combined 58.5 percent from the floor. Brady Morningstar has filled in nicely for Selby the previous two games with 27 points, 13 assists, and 0 turnovers. Butler Bulldogs Leading scorer and rebounder Matt Howard suffered a concussion and needed eight stitches to close a head wound suffered in the Bulldogs’ February 7th meeting with Illinois-Chicago. Butler was able to win without him on Wednesday night thanks to a big game from his replacement in the starting lineup, Andrew Smith. Smith tallied 15 points and 6 boards in a season-high 32 minutes. Matt Howard averages 17.1 points per game, 8.7 rebounds per game, and also leads Butler in blocks. He is questionable for Saturday’s home meeting with Detroit. This is the second concussion suffered by Howard in the past year, so don’t be surprised if Butler holds him out for precautionary reasons. Kansas State Wildcats Starting forward Curtis Kelly has been cleared to play the rest of the season. Kelly had been under review for supposedly another violation of the student-athlete handbook. He had to sit out three games earlier this year. Kelly has already missed nine games for the Wildcats because of violations and improper benefits received. Though preseason expectations were extremely high for Kelly and the Wildcats, neither has lived up to potential. Kansas State is just 4-4 the past eight games while Kelly is averaging just 9.9 points and 4.9 rebounds. Wright State Forward Cooper Land returned on Thursday night after missing the previous seven games after aggravating a surgically repaired right knee. Land scored 12 points in 19 minutes off the bench. Unfortunately, third leading scorer Troy Tabler has missed six straight games with a broken finger and his timetable for recovery is still uncertain. Wright State currently sits in third place in the Horizon league. The Raiders’ next two games are against the top two teams in the Horizon, Valparaiso and Cleveland State. Northern Iowa Panthers The Panthers will be without forward Lucas O’Rear for the rest of the year. O’Rear is the Panthers’ leading rebounder and fifth leading scorer. The loss of O'Rear is a tough blow for the Panthers (18-6, 9-3 Missouri Valley), who've won eight straight to vault back into at-large consideration for the NCAA tournament. For what it’s worth, UNI was upset in back-to-back games since O’Rear’s injury.

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