The game between the Michigan State Spartans and Indiana Hoosiers on Monday night was one for the ages. The 72-68 win for the Hoosiers gave them the Big Ten Conference lead and a clearer path to win the league. A win by Indiana also snapped a 17-game losing streak in East Lansing dating back to 1991. However, two plays during the game are receiving a lot of buzz, and could hurt Cody Zeller’s Player of the Year and NBA draft stock.
With around four minutes remaining in the game, Zeller had a nice post move to spin away from Derrick Nix on the way to a two point basket. There was one problem on the play: Zeller appeared to elbow Nix in the groin. Whether or not the move was on purpose, it left Nix down for a short minute, and left him defenseless on the drive by Zeller. The Indiana star appeared to use one hand to control the ball and the other to clear space for himself.
Shortly after this play, Nix got some retaliation of his own with a punch to Zeller’s crotch region. Or did he? New video evidence shows Zeller guided Nix’s hand to make it look like a punch that he hoped would be called.
At the time of the retaliation, ESPN announcer Dick Vitale seemed to lose it and didn’t give Nix the benefit of the doubt. “There’s no doubt about it. He catches him with the elbow. See that Magic? There’s no place for that. No place for that in basketball. Play the game, play with good sportsmanship, play the game.”
Well, Mr. Vitale, it appears Zeller is the poor sport. The second play was reviewed by officials during the game and they issued no foul on the play, personal or flagrant. How is it that with multiple replays, the officials saw Nix do nothing wrong, if Mr. Vitale was so adamant about Nix being dirty?
After the game, Zeller had this to say, “Just two competitors going at it. It’s the Big Ten. Nothing.” The Big Ten is super competitive this year, but there is no room for Zeller’s moves. Here’s hoping Zeller gets caught and punished. I’ll also be waiting for Mr. Vitale to apologize to Nix and the Spartans.