So which do you want to hear first: The good news or the bad
news?

Candace Mui
Freshman center Courtney Sims thinks that Michigan can contend for the Big Ten title with its remaining schedule. (Tony Ding/Daily).

For the Michigan basketball team, the bad news is that it sits
in seventh place in the conference and has already suffered four
defeats in a conference where the champion rarely exceeds five.

But the good news for the Wolverines is that the most difficult
portion of their conference schedule appears to be behind them.
Michigan (3-4 Big Ten, 12-6 overall) has already had to endure road
trips to Wisconsin, Michigan State and Illinois — the first,
second and third-place teams in the conference, respectively.

Counter that with the last nine games of Michigan’s
conference slate. Beginning with Purdue on Saturday, the Wolverines
will host five of those nine contests in Crisler Arena. And, out of
their four road opponents, only Indiana currently sits above sixth
place in the Big Ten standings.

That potentially advantageous schedule, combined with the fact
that no Big Ten team aside from Wisconsin has been consistently
ranked, has the Wolverines convinced that a move up the standings
may not be far away.

“(The way the conference standings are), it’s easy
to come from seventh place and be in third or second, so
we’re still in the race,” Michigan freshman Courtney
Sims said. “I think we have a good chance to get back in the
race — we have to handle our business at home and win a
couple games on the road.”

Before Michigan can make a run at the conference lead, though,
the Wolverines know that they must get past the Boilermakers.

“I think the significance of this game is everyone is one
or two games out of being in the hunt,” Michigan coach Tommy
Amaker said. “Everything is going to change again, and
it’s going to look a lot different if we can somehow get to
.500 in the league.”

Bad News Boilers: While Michigan is pointing toward
Saturday as a potential turning point in its conference season,
Purdue is just trying to keep its team together.

On Tuesday, the Boilermakers learned that they would be without
senior forward Chris Booker for the remainder of the season after
he was declared academically ineligible.

“It’s unfortunate for Chris and his teammates, but
we’ve got to move on as a team,” Purdue coach Gene
Keady said in a statement. “Chris will always be a part of
this basketball family, and we will continue to do whatever we can
to help him in his future endeavors.”

In addition to that, Purdue may be without starting guard and
leading scorer (14.1 points per game) Kenneth Lowe. Purdue’s
most consistent defender, sprained his elbow on Jan. 27 in the
Boilermakers’ 63-58 loss at Indiana. Since then, Lowe has sat
out the Boilermakers’ games against Ohio State and Penn State
on Saturday and Wednesday, respectively.

Keady said on Monday that Lowe is day-to-day.

Unleash the Rage: If Michigan basketball recruit Malik
Hairston, a senior at Renaissance High School in Detroit, decides
to play his college ball somewhere other than Ann Arbor,
don’t blame it on the Maize Rage.

A group of around a dozen Maize Ragers traveled to
Hairston’s final high school home game, an 88-59 win over
Detroit Communication and Media Arts.

One of Hairston’s teammates is Joe Crawford, who
originally announced his intentions to play for Michigan. But he
withdrew that commitment in July, and eventually signed with
Kentucky.

Hairston was his usual brilliant self in the Renaissance
victory, finishing with 29 points and 10 rebounds. Crawford had 24
points and seven boards.

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