Afternoon links: Izzo has Dawson's back

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  • Michigan’s stunning 6-0 Big Ten start sets up arguably the biggest game of the Big Ten season to date in East Lansing on Saturday … just in time for Michigan State’s frontcourt to find itself recused with injuries. Forward Adreian Payne will miss his fifth straight game with a foot injury, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported Friday.

  • That would be bad enough on its own, of course, but it is especially so given forward Branden Dawson will miss the next month with a broken hand he suffered when he slammed his hand on a table during a film session on Thursday. (Becoming so angry with yourself while watching yourself on film that you take it out on yourself by breaking your own hand … that’s a daunting Freudian tangle.) Dawsen was devastated when he announced the news on Thursday, and Tom Izzo had words for any Michigan State fan who “rips” his player. “I hate the social media," Izzo told reporters on Thursday. "And I hate it more because I got managers running up to me saying our own fans and people are ripping. If anyone rips BJ, anybody rips BJ, it'll be me. If any other fan rips BJ on something that we've all done, every guy in this room, every fan, I'm going to be more disappointed. If Michigan fans rip him, God bless 'em. If one Michigan State fan rips him one,give 'em my number." The Spartans will be fine long term, and they’ve won through their injuries for weeks now. But can they hold off a sizzling Wolverines team without their two starting forwards?

  • Creighton's Ethan Wragge’s one-sided offensive brilliance is fascinating in its own right: Wragge has made half of his 148 3-point attempts this season, and he’s taken just six 2-point field goals. Six! Who does that?! But SI.com’s Luke Winn found something even more remarkable about Wragge: The further away from the basket he is, the more accurate his shooting becomes. For the record: This is not how basketball is supposed to work. Insane.

  • It’s a good thing these Marquette uniforms are for a good cause, because ow, my eyes!

  • The ACC is slow -- slower than the Big Ten, and threatening to unseat the midwest league as the nation’s slowest power conference for the first time in at least a decade -- and it’s not just Syracuse’s fault.