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TDG Sunday Pregame: #17 Minnesota at Northwestern

I can't say I like these Sunday games, but on the bright side I usually have time Sunday mornings to crank out content for TDG. Nothing too fancy today, but here's some reading this morning as you're getting ready to watch some Big Ten basketball. Iowa travels to Purdue for a 11 a.m. central tip today followed directly by Minnesota at Northwestern at 1 p.m. central.

Subject: Lawrence Westbrook -- Charley Walters talks about the recruitiment of Lawrence Westbrook with former Minnesota head man Dan Monson. I'd pretty much forgot that Westbrook once committed to both Memphis and Iowa State. He is proving to be one of Monson's better recruits.

And speaking of Westbrook, Marcus Fuller asks if he is playing well enough for Big Ten all-conference honors. I'm not sure. I think we need to see more of what we did from him against Wisconsin. He still has spurts of sloppiness and simply playing out-of-control. If he leads this team offensively the rest of the year, then yes, he should be in the running, in my opinion.

JUCOs and Thugs: The Star Tribune previews the Northwestern tilt by focusing on Devron Bostick and Paul Carter, both JUCO recruits who are making an impact and deserve the attention. The story chronicles their transition to Division I, their early struggles and the plusses and minuses of being a JUCO. And also talk of "thugs." Here's a quote that I hope the reproter botched.

Said Bostick: "We have to prove that we're not just thugs. We are actually basketball players and good people at the same time."

Here I thought being a thug and a good person were mutually exclusive.

Tubby Smith Can't Recruit Apparently: You probably saw that Kentucky guard Jodie Meeks had a school-best scoring night when he lit up Tennessee on the road for 54 points. Yes, 54. Meeks, by the way, was recruited by one Tubby Smith, not that UK fans mention that when waxing philosophic about the heroic performance. Well, Chris Sprow at ESPN whacks some of the Tubby-hating UK fans upside the head.

Of course, those same fans tend to ignore the other part of the Meeks equation, the stunningly successful coach the kid came to play for. As Meeks said back then, "Coach (Tubby) Smith is a great guy. Who wouldn't want to play for coach Smith? He's one of the best coaches in the country."

Meeks had a point. Who wouldn't want to play for Tubby Smith?

At Kentucky, all Smith did was win a national title in 1998, a season in which the team had not one All-American or a future NBA lottery pick, the first team in 20 years to say as much. In his 10 seasons at Kentucky, he dominated the SEC, with six regular season titles and five tourney titles. He averaged over 26 wins per year, an absurd total by any standard. He was as good or better in his first ten years at Kentucky—which was preceded by time spent as an assistant with Rick Pitino rebuilding the program from a deserved state of rubble—as Lute Olson at Arizona, Coach K at Duke, Roy Williams at Kansas, Jim Boeheim at Syracuse, Tom Izzo at Michigan State or Mark Few at Gonzaga in terms of winning games and winning titles.

But he wasn't cut from the same cloth as those guys, and we mean that in precisely the manner it looks and sounds.

Predictions and Previews: GN has the TDG Preview below and he picks MInnesota to win. Ryan at Welsh-Ryan Ramblings has a preview from the Northwestern perspective and notes, in predicting a Gophers win, that Minnesota is coming in on a high after coming back at Wisconsin while Northwestern gave up a huge lead at home to Purdue. From the Barn says this is a trap game. 

Game Thread: Be sure to come back this afternoon before tip to join us for a game thread here. We'll launch the game thread 30-45 minutes before the game.