Hoosiers upset to be upsetFollowing their big home win over the Badgers last Wednesday, Kelvin Sampson’s Hoosiers hoped the momentum from that win would propel them closer to the top of the Big Ten standings. However, it seems that the team from Iowa City didn’t get the memo, as Iowa handed them their third loss in conference play this season. Sampson was quick to praise Hawkeye senior Adam Haluska for the stability he provides on both ends of the court, remarking how much Iowa is able to “feed off of him.” Iowa freshman Tyler Smith provided the Hawkeyes with an excellent rebounding performance, pulling down nine boards on the night. Smith’s effort prompted Sampson to remark that rebounding is uncharacteristically the biggest problem of late for the Hoosiers, who are usually very strong in that category thanks to the efforts of D.J. White.Following an away contest at Northwestern Wednesday, the Hooisers will host the rival Illini on Saturday to try to avenge a loss earlier this season in Champaign. According to Sampson, “both teams are in a position where they need a win.”Michigan looks to finish strongAfter starting off the Big Ten season 4-1, the Michigan Wolverines have dropped three conference games in a row and are showing signs that they may once again be heading toward the NIT tournament. Head coach Tommy Amaker has tried to focus his team on taking each outing one at a time. “It’s healthy to continue being positive,” Amaker said. The Wolverines are going to need all the positive energy they can muster in the coming weeks, as they are set to take on home and away contests against surging Ohio State and rival Michigan State. Also on the schedule are important games at home against nationally ranked Indiana as well as a trip to Illinois.For a team still without a signature win to improve its bid for a spot in the NCAA tournament, Michigan still has a very good record. But a win over one of the ranked teams in the Big Ten would do wonders for not only the Wolverines’ standing in the conference, but also for their confidence heading into the Big Ten tournament in March, where they could possibly secure a berth in the NCAA tournament.Smith picking up slackDespite a 5-4 record in conference play, the Iowa Hawkeyes are sitting at fourth in the Big Ten after a pair of confidence-boosting wins over Michigan and Indiana. Hawkeye head coach Steve Alford praised the efforts of his team over the past week, where the team played three tough games and came away with victories in two of them. “[The week] was demanding for the young guys,” Alford said. The “young guys” weren’t the only ones tired after the week’s end. Senior Adam Haluska, who currently leads the conference in scoring at over 20 points per game, has really had to step into a leadership role following the graduation of five seniors from last year. With the absence of senior guard Mike Henderson for most of the season, Iowa has had to look elsewhere for contributions. Lucky for the team, freshman forward Tyler Smith has matured into one of the best freshmen in the conference. The freshman is averaging more than 15 points a game and has been held to less than 10 points only once since Big Ten play began. Iowa will look toward Haluska and Smith to continue their excellent play this week with back-to-back road games at Minnesota and at the Kohl Center on Saturday.Spartans search for key winsWhen asked this week about his thoughts on recent articles stating the Big Ten was having a down year, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo was quick to give a rebuttal, saying, “I don’t think our league in general doesn’t get the respect it deserves.” Izzo remarked that he wasn’t sure if the results of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, in which the ACC dominated, was the main reason for the negative press, but claimed that no conference with nationally ranked teams should ever be considered weak.The Spartans, who have been ranked on several occasions this year, are smarting after losing their last three conference games, two of which came at the hands of Ohio State.”(The team) did enough things to win the games,” Izzo said of the two losses. In the end the Spartans couldn’t overcome the powerful one-two defensive punch of National Freshman of the Year candidate Greg Oden and Othello Hunter, a 6-foot-9 junior forward, as the two combined for five blocks and 19 rebounds. The Spartans continue to rely heavily on the all-around game of senior guard Drew Neitzel, whose consistent scoring and leadership has thrown him into contention for Big Ten player of the year. While Izzo wants to continue to take advantage of the unique abilities of Neitzel, he remains concerned for the senior’s endurance, as he is logging over 35 minutes a game. While the Spartans may have this upcoming weekend off from conference play, they could use wins against Michigan in Ann Arbor and at home to improve their 4-5 conference record before the Big Ten tournament.