Checking in on the… Big 10Posted by rtmsf on December 2nd, 2008
Josh & Mike of Big Ten Geeks are the RTC correspondents for the Big Ten Conference.
Feast Week was somewhat of a mixed bag for the Big Ten. Illinois was the only team that captured the title of its tournament, taking home the South Padre Invitational title. Big Ten Geek favorite Mike Tisdale was named to the all-tourney team. Penn State, Wisconsin, and Purdue each finished runner-up in their respective tourneys. So far this season, Penn State sophomore point guard Talor Battle has been ridonkulous – converting on nearly 50% of this three pointers so far this season. That gives Battle an early lead on the other promising sophomore point guards in the Big Ten (Kalin Lucas, Demetri McCamey, and Michael Thompson).
Wisconsin didn’t look great in the Paradise Jam, looking outmanned against UConn. So far this season, Wisconsin’s offense has been fine, but the defense is a signficant step-back from last year’s outstanding version.
Purdue looked good against Oklahoma early-on, bet fell in overtime to the Sooners in the final of the Preseason NIT. Boilermaker fans were no doubt howling about the free throw disparity (45 to 6! 6!!!), but Purdue’s turnovers were also to blame. That said, Matt Painter’s team had been excellent in that department so far into the season, so it’s possible this was just a fluke.
Iowa and Michigan State each failed to reach the finals of their respective tournaments. Iowa took down a Michael Beasley-less Kansas State in the consolation game, but it was by the same margin by which Kentucky took down KSU the day before. That said, it’s hard to imagine a perimeter-oriented team being successful with so many turnovers (21 against West Virginia in a 67 possession game). The Spartans also saw a rash of TOs this week, including 15 against Maryland in a 67 possession loss. Those TOs followed MSU on through the Old Spice Classic, though the Spartans rode strong shooting and offensive rebounding against Oklahoma State and Wichita State.
Indiana escaped Maui with a win, but not before dropping games against Notre Dame and St. Josephs by an average of over 30 points. And sure, that win is Chaminade. But nonetheless, there is good evidence that Indiana is on the upswing – especially now that the Sampson debacle is firmly behind them.
Michigan, Ohio State, and Minnesota each got past cupcakes this week, and Northwestern came up short against Butler in a tough road loss in Indianapolis. Had this been the Butler of last season, this would be an “encouraging loss” for Carmody’s club. But Butler lost a lot from last season, so keep that excitement in check.
It’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge time! The Big Ten fired out the early salvo, as Wisconsin downed Virginia Tech with some heroics from Trevon Hughes. If the Big Ten is going to have any chance of taking down the ACC this year, it needed a Badger victory. Most of the games tip off on Tuesday, with the highlights being MSU/UNC, and Purdue/Duke. More interesting might be the mid-range games, as we’ll get an opportunity to see how good Illinois, Penn State, and Michigan really are. A win for any of them will help them get off the bubble in March.
We don’t have a ton of confidence that the Big Ten will win this thing (how could they? The ACC was better last year, lost only one underclassman to the NBA, and brought in fantastic recruiting classes), but we’ll consider it a big victory to get 5 wins.
A Look at the Numbers
As we pointed out last week, this preseason Big Ten coaches were big on fast pace promises. We had our doubts. So far, with the exception of Indiana and Purdue, the Big Ten doesn’t seem to be speeding up appreciably:
- Illinois 62.8
- Indiana 70.1
- Iowa 59.4
- Michigan 62.2
- Michigan State 67.6
- Minnesota 65.8
- Northwestern 59.4
- Ohio State 61.1
- Penn State 67.7
- Purdue 72.3
- Wisconsin 60.3
If recent history is any guide, it’s more likely that Purdue and Indiana will slow down, rather than any of the other teams breaking the 70 possession barrier.