Checking in on… the Big TenPosted by rtmsf on December 15th, 2009
Jason Prziborowski is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten conference.
Three things from the past week. Wisconsin loses to Wisconsin-Green Bay. The second thing is Ohio State loses without Evan Turner. The third thing is freshman Maurice Creek from Indiana and Drew Crawford from Northwestern are filling it up with more 30 points in their last games. Now three Big Ten teams are in the top 25: #4 Purdue, #12 Michigan State, and #18 Ohio State.
- Purdue 9-0
- Northwestern 7-1
- Illinois 8-2
- Michigan State 8-2
- Ohio State 7-2
- Wisconsin 7-2
- Minnesota 7-3
- Penn State 6-4
- Michigan 5-4
- Indiana 4-5
- Iowa 3-7
- Can Purdue win on the road against top teams? Purdue had to use the whole game to polish off Alabama down in Tuscaloosa. Granted that Alabama team is now 6-3 and beat Michigan earlier in the year, but still, Alabama is no Wisconsin in Madison. That will be Purdue’s first difficult road test, and a good one at that, as Wisconsin is practically unbeatable in the Kohl Center under Bo Ryan.
- Was Butler a fluke or is Ohio State on the verge of dropping out of the top 25? Butler is definitely on the way back up, but I am questioning whether OSU has enough in its tank to make up the difference. William Buford, who is averaging 12/4 on the year, stepped up for 20/7 for the Buckeyes. David Lighty, who is 12/5 on the year, went for 16/7 against the bulldogs. OSU is averaging 85.4 points per game this season, and scored just 66 against Butler. That’s about the gap of one Evan Turner.
- Is Illinois as good as their record suggests? It’s hard to say, but after their big Clemson upset, they haven’t played anybody too great. Yes, you could argue that Vandy is tough, but you definitely can’t make the case for Western Michigan. If you play Illinois, just don’t do so at their place. They are 8-0 at Assembly Hall in Champaign. A big test will be against Northwestern on December 30th at home.
- December 19th – Michigan @ Kansas, 12 PM ET, ESPN – Okay, so do I think Michigan has much of a chance in this game, no I don’t; but I still believe it will be an interesting game to watch, as Michigan had such high hopes for this year and this will be a good opportunity to make a statement on the biggest stage against the top ranked team in the country.
- December 19th – Illinois @ Georgia – 7 PM ET, ESPNU – Illinois is on its way back, but playing down in Georgia should be a different test for a team that has been playing average competition at home. This game should show whether the past few weeks have been more about soft scheduling than about good basketball. I hope it is the latter.
- December 19th – Stanford @ Northwestern 9 PM ET – Let’s be honest, this is Nerdfest ’09. The battle for the biggest intellects on the Hardwood. It’s the Midwestern Ivy in Northwestern against the West Coast Ivy in Stanford. I give the edge to Northwestern, as they are rolling, and it’s a home game. (note: RTC Live will be there)
Breaking It Down
- Purdue cut it a little too close for me. I caught the end of the game against Alabama, and offered to chauffeur my friends around as soon as I knew it was wrapped up. It came down to Purdue making free throws and working hard on defense, including Robbie Hummel calling timeout on a steal before going out of bounds. That work ethic will bode well for them. It’s hard to say too many negative things against the #4 team in the nation, so I am reaching here.
- Northwestern is on the verge. Okay, here is another shout-out to a Wildcat player who I hope isn’t reading this blog, as John Shurna for the second straight week didn’t equal his averages except for pulling down 10 boards. I just hope my new shout-out to Drew Crawford won’t have that same effect. I guess he liked his team’s 11 day layoff because he came out firing and ended up with 35/5/3 against NC A&T. Up next against the fellow nerds of Stanford. Nobody will talking about not taking the SATs at that game.
- Ohio State’s journey continues. For the sake of redundancy, all I will say here is that OSU will roll Presbyterian, Delaware State, and Cleveland State before running into the Wisconsin wall up in Madison after New Year’s. That will be a huge game for both teams.
- Wisconsin blows it against Green Bay. Trevon Hughes might have scored a new career high with 27 and Jon Leuer with a career high of 26, it wasn’t enough to get past Green Bay, subsequently dropping them from the top 25. Give it to Wisconsin, as they didn’t sulk long, needed to bounce back against Marquette, which they did. I honestly thought Marquette would be the game they would lose after seeing their athleticism against Minnesota earlier in the year. Leuer followed up his performance against Green Bay with a 24/12 performance against Marquette. Nothing too tough on the horizon, but they have to make sure to beat in-state rival Milwaukee in a week to save face.
- Illinois will continue their exhibitions in preparation for Northwestern. I have already talked about this, so I will look forward to the Wildcats on the 30th of the month.
- Michigan State has one more blowout before Texas. Give it to IPFW for playing some tough opponents. So far they have gotten torched by Wisconsin and Gonzaga. Next up will be a torching by MSU. I am excited for Texas on 12/22, because that will allow them the first test since getting knocked off the proverbial horse by UNC.
- Minnesota – what a difference an opponent makes. If you look at the scores for Minnesota this year, especially the last 3 wins, and compare them against the last 3 losses, and you will see a shockingly different team. The last 3 wins the Gophers have scored 90+, whereas in the previous 3 losses, Minnesota was in the high 50s and mid 60s.
- Michigan has a one-two punch, but not much else. The stats don’t lie. Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims combined for two-thirds of their points against Detroit. On the year they are averaging over 50% of the team’s points. Somebody else needs to come to the party, especially when they head down to Lawrence against Kansas.
- Penn State continues to Battle it out. Talor Battle had a 32/9/3 game against Virginia Tech, and it still wasn’t enough. He actually scored half of the team’s points, but managed to miss a couple free throws and a layup that could have been the difference in the game. Too much reliance on one man still and the Lions need to find someone else to lean on. Next up is Gardner-Webb, a team that will have already taken on UNC and Duke.
- Indiana is up a Creek without a rebound paddle. Indiana pulled off a huge upset against Pitt in Madison Square Garden behind a great performance from Verdell Jones and crew. Verdell couldn’t repeat the performance against Kentucky, but Maurice Creek had a career high effort with 31 points, showing up UK freshman guard John Wall, at least in the points column. The bad side: Indiana was outrebounded 49-24, with Kentucky getting 30 second chance points. That was the difference in the game.
- Iowa struggling within its own borders. Iowa dropped successive games to Northern Iowa and Iowa State. Its next game is against Drake. If they lose, it would be the trifecta that they would have never hoped for, and will spell the metaphorical end to their season.