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It’s important — especially in today’s society — that we ask questions about topics and issues we do not know much about, rather than running the risk of being ignorant or offensive.

Big Ten Men's Basketball Notebook

With less than a month to go in the regular season, it appears that the Big Ten will send at least six teams to the NCAA Tournament.

Michigan, Indiana and Purdue are a lock. Barring collapse, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois will also get an invitation to the "Big Dance."

Big Ten remains conference without a tourney

For basketball junkies, conference tournaments are an ideal opening act for the NCAA Tournament.

The tournaments whip college hoops fans into a frenzy that carries over to the NCAA Tournament, which is aptly nicknamed "March Madness."

He was the final piece, this 7-foot-1 man-child.

And with Rashard Griffith providing much-needed punch in the paint -- while Michael Finley and Tracy Webster worked their magic on the perimeter -- Wisconsin got off to its best start in school history, winning its first 11 games and 13 of its first 16.

But chronic back spasms forced Griffith to the sidelines. The freshman phenom, who is the Big Ten's leading shot blocker (2.7 per game) and is among the conference leaders in scoring and rebounding (14.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg), missed four of Wisconsin's next five games. The Badgers, not coincidentally, went 1-3 in Griffith's absense.

Men's Basketball Notebook

As the conference race heads into the second half, Indiana and Michigan (both were 7-2 as of yesterday) have successfully weathered the losses of marquee players Calbert Cheaney and Chris Webber and taken the inside track to the Big Ten Championship.

"Before the season, I said Illinois and Minnesota," Michigan State Coach Judd Heathcote said. "That shows how dumb I am."

Men's Basketball Notebook

This year was supposed to be different. Even the so-called experts said so.

After years of reserving the basement for the Wildcats, most basketball pundits tabbed Northwestern for an eighth or ninth-place finish in the Big Ten.