Checking In On… the Big Ten

Posted by rtmsf on December 1st, 2009

checkinginon

Jason Prziborowski is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference.

This past week was like March Madness in November for the Big Ten. The Big Ten is glad it isn’t though, as all but a few would be left standing with upset after upset bringing down the big and mighty. Those who fell this week include: Michigan State, Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan. The Big Ten started last week with 6 teams in the AP’s top 25, and only 3 remain in Purdue (#6), Michigan State (#9), and Ohio State (#15). The only unbeaten team in the Big Ten is now Purdue.

Standings

  1. Purdue 5-0
  2. Michigan State 5-1
  3. Ohio State 5-1
  4. Northwestern 5-1
  5. Wisconsin 4-1
  6. Penn State 5-2
  7. Illinois 4-2
  8. Minnesota 4-2
  9. Michigan 3-2
  10. Indiana 3-3
  11. Iowa 2-4

Top Storylines

  • Evan Turner, oops he did it again. That’s right folks, Evan Turner from Ohio State pulled off another triple double this week, becoming just 1 of 34 NCAA athletes to pull off multiple triple-double games in a single season.
  • Michigan State falls to Florida, ending their unbeaten streak. Turns out that Florida is legit again this season, moving up to #17 in the AP. Michigan State was sloppy and Florida made them pay, even though the game was a nailbiter.
  • Remember the name: John Shurna. The sophomore forward poured it on in the Chicago Invitational to take down Notre Dame and Iowa State, earning MVP honors over the likes of Craig Brackins and Luke Harangody, both household names.
  • Last but definitely not least, the first signs that Minnesota’s off the court troubles finally affected their on the court performance this week when they lost to Texas A&M after sitting Lawrence Westbrook and Al Nolen for disciplinary reasons. Westbrook and Nolen combine for over 19 points per game, and they lost by 1 point. That time sitting on the bench was definitely worth more than a point.

Coming Up

  • Twofer Tuesday: In case you lost your TV in a bet this past weekend, I am sure you have seen the ads for the Michigan State vs. North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. National Championship rematch. Two historic programs. Enough said. Tune in. Tuesday at 9 PM, ESPN. In the opening game, you can watch what I predict will be Purdue rolling all over Wake Forest, although stranger things have happened. Wake just lost to William & Mary, so they could be coming with their A game. Tune in at 7 PM on ESPN for that one.
  • Four straight hours on Wednesday: The first game features Illinois against Clemson. Illinois needs this game to stop the bleeding, while Clemson wants to keep their #19 ranking. That game is at 7:15 PM on ESPN. The second game features Wisconsin taking on Duke, with both teams coming off big wins. Wisconsin beat Maryland, a top 25 team at the time, while Duke, at #5 in the AP, is coming off a huge win against UConn to win the Preseason NIT. That game is at 9:15 PM on ESPN.

Breaking It Down

  • Michigan State learned that is has to come to play every game. They played sloppy against Florida, and it cost them. Even with Kalin Lucas pouring in 20 points, it wasn’t enough. Maybe it was a fluke, maybe Florida is really that good, but time will tell. Two important stats from the Florida game: 2-10 and 22-25. The first is their 3 point field goal percentage, which actually wasn’t much better than Florida’s, but the second was Florida’s free throw numbers. Michigan State can’t afford to put the opposing team to the line that many times and shoot that poorly from 3 point range.
  • Purdue is rolling. After the serious challenge posed by Tennessee last week and emerging victorious, Purdue has been rolling over its opponents. Purdue’s trifecta is playing up to its ability, and I don’t see anyone stopping them anytime soon. Currently the team to beat in the Big Ten.
  • Ohio State needs a challenge. I feel kind of bad for St. Francis, considering they were blown out by over 60 points this past week. Actually, in kind of shocking fashion, this was the first game that Evan Turner didn’t at least have a double double. Ohio States does take on a Florida State team that is currently 6-1, so maybe they can make it interesting on Wednesday.
  • Minnesota needs to figure out its off the court problems and fast. Although Tubby Smith won’t elaborate on the disciplinary actions of Westbrook and Nolen, it signals a recurring pattern that the team has faced thus far — disciplinary actions and suspensions of top players. Minnesota takes on Miami in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and that will be a make or break game in my opinion for Minnesota. Minnesota is out of the top 25 after two straight losses, whereas Miami hasn’t lost a game yet, although the Canes haven’t played a team nearly as athletic as Minnesota.
  • Michigan needs to take it to the rack. Michigan hopefully won’t live and die by the 3 this year, but so far it seems that way. Against Marquette, Michigan could have won the game by taking it to the rack, but instead they continued to fire and miss from three. They ended that game 3-20 from three. Against Alabama they didn’t finish much better, hitting on 6-25.
  • Illin like a Villain. Illinois needs to right the ship right now after losing two close ones to Utah and Bradley. Illinois hasn’t won a close game yet, but it is unlikely that the upcoming game against Clemson is going to be a blowout for Illinois. This game, if they win it, will be a big step forward for Illinois. Losing three straight this early could be a huge hit to the confidence of a young team.
  • Wisconsin is the quiet assassin. Even though Wisconsin fell to a tough Gonzaga squad after a nailbiting victory against Arizona, they came storming back and knocked off Maryland. Trevon Hughes has been solid, but the big question will be whether he can hang with the guards of Duke or not?
  • Northwestern is working their way up the charts. Northwestern might be the surprise of the Big Ten this year, but their next matchup against NC State could determine whether the momentum will keep going or if the wall of the ACC is too tough to jump over. NC State has been clamping down on the defensive end, so Michael Thompson, John Shurna and company will have to slice and dice the defense to win this one. They will also need to stop the offensive play of NC State inside, where most of the Wolfpack points are coming from.
  • Penn State Battles. Talor Battle as a matter of fact is dominating, and he is taking Penn State with him. He decided not to score in the first half against Virginia so he could sneak in 28 out of his 32 points in the second half. How is that for ridiculous? So far since his freshman year he has doubled his point total, so if he manages to do it this year, he will wind up with 1,270 points on the year. He is streaky though, we just hope he keeps it going.
  • Indiana has freshman. Indiana is young, and other than Puerto Rico, they have played one of the easiest schedules in the NCAA. The biggest test so far will be tomorrow against Maryland. Who will emerge as a leader of this team? Christian Watford, Maurice Creek, Jeremiah Rivers? Time will tell.
  • Iowa does it again. Ok, so Iowa has two wins on the year. The latest was against North Carolina Central, where they shot 50% from the field overall, even though they managed to shoot a horrendous 15% from 3 point range. The bright spot if there is one? Jarryd Cole pumped in a career high 24 points to go along with 10 boards. Not a bad Saturday if I say so myself. If Iowa can catch 4-1 Virginia Tech on an off night, they might be able to sneak in a win in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday.
rtmsf (3720 Posts)


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