Checking in on… the Big TenPosted by Brian Goodman on November 29th, 2010
John Templon of Chicago College Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten conference.
A Look Back
- Ken’s Favorites: The Big Ten boasts five schools checking into Ken Pomeroy’s top 20, more than any other conference in the nation. The upcoming ACC/Big Ten challenge should heighten the non-conference strength of schedule.
- Player of the Week: Kalin Lucas, G, Michigan State: Lucas struggled in the Spartans’ loss to Connecticut, shooting 4-12 from the field, committing five turnovers and scoring ten points, but he rebounded to drop a career-high 29 points on just 13 shots in the victory over Washington. That was followed up with a 15-point effort against Tennessee Tech. Lucas will have to be on for Michigan State to take down Duke in its challenge game. An honorable mention here goes to John Shurna. Northwestern only played one game, but he scored 23 points, grabbed six boards and dished out four assists in the Wildcats’ 65-52 victory over Creighton.
- Newcomer of the Week: Jereme Richmond, F, Illinois: You could give this award to Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger every week, but to avoid that, let’s recognize the efforts of Richmond. He’s starting to work his way into Bruce Weber’s regular rotation and is playing well. He scored 12 points and grabbed five boards at Western Michigan in a 78-63 victory.
Power Rankings – subject to a lot of early season fluctuation
- Ohio State (5-0) – The Buckeyes’ ranking is purely based on their victory over Florida earlier in the season because Morehead State and Miami (OH) proved to be nuisances, but also 19- and 21-point victories. Ohio State’s defense appears to be in midseason form.
- Minnesota (6-0) – The Golden Gophers are still undefeated after an easy victory over North Dakota State. Minnesota won’t get much of a test playing at home against Virginia to start the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. In fact, no real big non-conference games exist before Tubby Smith’s team opens Big Ten play against Wisconsin on December 28.
- Illinois (6-1) – The Illini are about to start a tough stretch of non-conference games with home games against North Carolina and Oakland plus a road trip to Spokane to play Gonzaga for their next three. Demetri McCamey is still the leader, but four other players averaging double figures in scoring have emerged to give him help early.
- Michigan State (5-1) – The Spartans still might be the best team in the Big Ten, but slide them down a bit after their upset against Connecticut at the Maui Invitational. Still, rebounding to take out Washington is always a good start towards redemption. In the periphery, Derrick Nix returned to the team after staying in East Lansing while his team went to Maui.
- Northwestern (4-0) – A victory over Creighton gave Northwestern its best start in 17 years. That probably says more about the Wildcats’ basketball history than their record. Northwestern hasn’t lost in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge since 2008 and the Wildcats desperately need a victory over Georgia Tech, especially since it’s at home, as part of their NCAA Tournament profile.
- Purdue (5-1) – The Boilermakers dropped this far because of their loss to Richmond in the finals of the Chicago Invitational Challenge. The game against the Spiders showed some cracks in the offense. Whether it is something systemic or just an off night is what will determine Purdue’s future spots in this ranking.
- Wisconsin (4-2) – The Badgers played very good defense at the Old Spice Classic, but they also didn’t play much offense. The offense was effective in spurts against Notre Dame, but it wasn’t enough for Wisconsin to pull out the victory. Still, the win over Boston College might prove useful later in the season.
- Indiana (6-0) – The Hoosiers’ game against Boston College on Wednesday will be their first real test of the season. Indiana doesn’t need to win, but Tom Crean needs something to build on before his young team plays Kentucky on December 11.
- Penn State (5-1) – The Nittany Lions played at Ole Miss and lost a shootout 84-71 in 60 possessions. They rebounded for a victory over Furman, but the game against Maryland is a really big one if Penn State wants to be taken seriously as an NCAA Tournament at-large candidate.
- Michigan (3-2) – Two losses might not look pretty, but considering they were against Syracuse and UTEP, it’s not the end of the world. The defense is playing well and keeping the Wolverines in games, but the offense is going to have to fix itself in order to beat Clemson or maybe even Harvard when former coach Tommy Amaker’s returns to Ann Arbor on Saturday.
- Iowa (3-3) – The Hawkeyes can score a lot of points against bad teams – like the 111 they put up on SIU-Edwardsville on Friday, but it’s been a real struggle against even mediocre competition.
A Look Ahead
The ACC/Big Ten Challenge starts this week and the predictions are rolling in that the Big Ten will take the title for the second straight season. While it could happen, it’s likely going to be very close and come down to an upset or two. The Big Ten isn’t coming off the best of weeks either, as Wisconsin, Purdue and Michigan State are all looking to recover from losses. What’s Coming Up? (all times EST)
- 11/30 – Ohio State at Florida State – 7:30 p.m., ESPN
- 11/30 – Illinois vs. North Carolina – 9:30 p.m., ESPN
- 11/30 – Northwestern vs. Georgia Tech – 7:00 p.m., ESPN2
- 12/1 – Michigan State vs. Duke – 9:30 p.m., ESPN
- 12/1 – Wisconsin vs. North Carolina State – 7:15 p.m., ESPN2
- 12/1 – Purdue at Virginia Tech – 7:30 p.m., ESPN
- 12/1 – Penn State at Maryland – 9:15 p.m., ESPN2
- 12/1 – Indiana at Boston College – 7:15 p.m., ESPNU
- 12/4 – Illinois at Gonzaga – 5:15 p.m., ESPN
- 12/4 – Purdue at Alabama – 3:30 p.m., ESPN2
- 12/4 – Penn State vs. Duquesne
- 12/4 – Michigan vs. Harvard
Fun With Efficiency Margin
At the moment, Ohio State appears to be the class of the Big Ten and one of the top teams in the nation along with Kansas and Duke. I’m sure a lot of college basketball fans are ruing the day that the ACC/Big Ten Challenge was scheduled and pitted Michigan State against the Blue Devils instead of the Buckeyes.