Checking in on… the Big Ten

Posted by jstevrtc on January 6th, 2010

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

Three things from the past week:

  • Big Ten takes down Big East – Purdue beats West Virginia. If anyone tuned in, it was pretty clear that Purdue deserves its #4 ranking, while proving that the Big Ten can hang with the Big East. As an aside, Pittsburgh is currently 3-0 in the Big East, taking down Syracuse for its first loss. Reminder: Indiana beat Pittsburgh earlier this year.  Check out the story here at ATB – New Year’s Weekend
  • Cinderella lost her slipper – Unfortunately for Northwestern, its early season Cinderella had a setback on its way to the Big Dance. Northwestern sneezed, and now find themselves out of the top 25 after losses to Illinois and Michigan State.
  • The Bucks got scratched – I could have predicted the Wisconsin game, especially up in Madison, although I didn’t think it was going to be a 20 point blowout. The one that shocked me though, was the loss to Michigan, especially after they were coming off an upset loss to Indiana. It is pretty clear that the current OSU team cannot contend in the Big Ten. Can Evan Turner come out and play? Hopefully sooner than later.

Now three Big Ten teams are in the top 25: Purdue #4, Michigan State #10, and Wisconsin #17.

Power Rankings

  1. Purdue    14-0, 2-0
  2. Michigan State    11-3, 1-0
  3. Wisconsin    12-2, 2-0
  4. Ohio State    10-4, 0-2
  5. Minnesota    11-4, 2-1
  6. Illinois    10-5, 2-0
  7. Northwestern    10-3, 0-2
  8. Michigan    7-6, 1-1
  9. Indiana    7-6, 1-0
  10. Penn State    8-6, 0-2
  11. Iowa    5-10, 0-3

Top Story

  • Big 10 Madness has begun – Conference play started this past week in the Big Ten, and they didn’t disappoint. Indiana loses Maurice Creek, their top scorer and player, and then they upset Michigan at home. Michigan, not to be outdone, gets revenge for what their football team couldn’t do against OSU. Wisconsin, not wanting to miss out, blows out both OSU and PSU. Surprisingly, only Michigan and Minnesota have at least a win and a loss. Everyone else either hasn’t lost, or hasn’t won.

Coming Up

  • Wisconsin @ Michigan State – January 6th – 6:30 ET – Unless things change with Purdue, this is really the game that decides who will be in 2nd place. Wisconsin hasn’t ventured out of Madison much this year, so hopefully MSU can capitalize at home.
  • Purdue @ Wisconsin – January 9th – 1:30 ET – Apparently the pundits are saying that this game is the one that Purdue will lose, but depending on what happens when the Badgers take on the Spartans, this could be the game that really separates Purdue from the pack.  Check out what the pundits say about the four teams who are left chasing perfection: Four Teams Chasing Perfection
  • Ohio State @ Minnesota – January 9th – 3:30 ET – Ohio State is clearly vulnerable, and this game could show just how vulnerable. I think that Purdue will hand it to the Gophers on the 5th at Mackey, but Minnesota is tough at home, and OSU is not at full strength. The Bucks could fall even further. This isn’t even factoring in what happens with the Indiana @ OSU game.

Breaking It Down

  • Purdue is one of four left still standing. Purdue now has a huge bull’s eye on its back. As one of only four teams left unbeaten, it will make a team’s season to take down Purdue. If Purdue’s Big Three in Hummel, Johnson, and Moore can duplicate what they did against West Virginia, any team in the land will have their hands full.
  • The Spartans took care of business. Like I said last week, good teams are supposed to win games against opponents who aren’t as good, and that’s exactly what MSU did against Northwestern. Tom Izzo hasn’t been happy with the leadership on this team all year, and he benched Kalin Lucas as a result. Lucas got the message loud and clear, and brought his A-game against the Wildcats. He and others will have to bring much more against Wisconsin.
  • Wisconsin shifting gears to spring ahead in the Big Ten. I have already mentioned plenty about Wisconsin both in the games to watch, and what happened in the last week, so I will keep it brief here. Wisconsin had a pretty good draw in their first games, given that they played an Evan Turner-less OSU and then Penn State. They don’t have the good fortune of that continuing, with upcoming games against MSU and Purdue.
  • Ohio State needs a recovery game, and quick. I have talked plenty about OSU, so I will just mention their upcoming game against Indiana. Clearly this is a home game for OSU, so they should take care of business, but if they slip and Indiana brings its varsity team, OSU could be 0-4 if Minnesota doesn’t let them off the hook at home.
  • Minnesota got two bye games, but now has to climb a mountain. Yes, Minnesota had a seven game streak, and yes, Minnesota is 2-1 in the Big Ten. That’s the good news. Now for the bad news. This is now officially the point in the year, as evidenced by the Purdue game last night, when Minnesota has to play real teams.  Like Tuesday’s game against Purdue, their upcoming game against Ohio State is must-see for this reason.
  • Illinois likes long games. Illinois went more than the distance twice this past week, getting the better of Northwestern, and coming up short against Gonzaga. Was Mike Tisdale’s career high 31/11 against Northwestern a fluke? It might seem so, as he followed up with four points and five fouls against Gonzaga. They disposed of Iowa at home, and now hit the road to Bloomington where I will be watching this game just prior to school starting again. I expect to see plenty of fans at Assembly Hall.
  • Northwestern has fallen, can they get up? The good news: my man John Shurna is back, and in a big way. He had a 27/7 game against Illinois and followed it up with a 29/6 game against Michigan State. Clearly, he is a conference gamer. The bad news: not everyone else on the team has come with him, including their defense. Michael Thompson has been ice cold, going 2-10 against Illinois and then following it up with 2-8 against MSU, never achieving double figures in either game. Nothing close to his 15.3 PPG average on the year. The past two games, opponents are averaging 90 PPG, whereas they had only allowed 63.7 PPG for the year. The Wildcats will need to find a way to deal with the Big 10 fire power if they want to make the Big Dance.
  • Michigan continues its inconsistent season. Each game is a new surprise for Michigan. One would have thought they would have come into Assembly Hall and disposed of Indiana without Maurice Creek, but they didn’t. Then, one would think they would fall to OSU, even without Evan Turner, but they didn’t. What is Michigan going to do next? That’s what I want to know. Clearly whatever happens will involve two guys by the names of Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims, the fab two.
  • Indiana steps up in Creek’s absence. Indiana brought the team that played against Pittsburgh to the game against Michigan. I will refer to that team as the varsity squad, as they have brought the junior varsity to a couple games (Loyola, most games in Puerto Rico, etc). The stats against Michigan actually mirror the Pittsburgh game, where Verdell Jones III and Christian Watford led the team. Creek’s points look like they will be coming from Jordan Hulls and Devan Dumes, both streaky three-point shooters. Indiana can play with anyone if they bring their varsity. Will they?
  • Penn State bruised during Week 1. Talor Battle is putting on a one man show. Too bad it’s a five man game. Battle went for 23/6/4 against Minnesota and 15/4/4 against Wisconsin. Penn State’s 46 points against Wisconsin isn’t going to get it done in the Big 10, especially when only 3 points come from the bench. Bench production has been a problem all year for Penn State, as it is probably a cause of the starters running out of gas at the end of games.
  • Iowa is fishing for a W. As predicted last week, Iowa lost the first two Big Ten games. The good news: Aaron Fuller likes to play during conference games (12.5 PPG in conference vs. 5.1 during the rest of the year). Keys to winning: Iowa needs the bench to get involved every game. Against Purdue: The bench scored 9 and Iowa scored 56. Against Minnesota: The bench scored 28 points and Iowa scored 74. Coincidence? I think not. I am still not sure Iowa will get a W for a while. Go fish.
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