Checking in on… the Big TenPosted by Brian Goodman on December 14th, 2010
John Templon of Chicago College Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten conference.
A Look Back
- The Big Ten took on some road challenges this week against mid-major opponents and came out on the right side. Unfortunately, Michigan State lost the marquee non-conference game against Syracuse and now the Big East is getting a lot of credit, but objectively, the Big Ten is still the best conference in the country.
- Team of the Week: Wisconsin: The Badgers defeated Marquette 69-64 at the Bradley Center on Saturday. Jordan Taylor led the team with 21 points and Jon Leuer added 17. Wisconsin had 15 offensive rebounds and just 10 turnovers in the victory. Leuer was also the leading scorer with 20 points as Wisconsin thrashed Milwaukee, 61-40, earlier in the week.
- Player of the Week and Newcomer of the Week: Jared Sullinger, F, Ohio State: Sullinger looked unstoppable against IUPUI as he scored 40 points and grabbed 13 rebounds against an overmatched front line. He shot 23 free throws, making 16, and also showed good feet around the basket. He followed that up with a ho-hum 17 points and five boards against Western Carolina. Still, it’s obvious that this freshman is making a big impact on the court for the Buckeyes.
- The Leaders and Legends of the Big Ten Conference are going to be playing under the above new logo come next season. Gone is the subtlety of the ‘eleven’ hidden inside of the ‘Ten’ and, instead, we’ve got a conference logo that won’t have to change until they reach 20 teams. Despite the expansion to 12 teams, the Ten stays in the name. “Leaders” and “Legends” refer to the new names for the divisions in the 12-team conference. This isn’t little league, but all the Leaders will sound like they’re in first. I can’t wait till I have to write a sentence like ‘Ohio State now leads the Leaders by a game over Illinois,’ or some such nonsense.
- Ohio State (8-0) – Jared Sullinger had a great week and the Buckeyes got two victories. IUPUI put up quite a fight, though. The most interesting part of Ohio State’s week was the fact that head coach Thad Matta did a lot of lineup experimentation, including not subbing until almost garbage time against IUPUI and playing five freshmen at once against Western Carolina.
- Illinois (10-1) – Illinois didn’t let up, taking down Oakland and Northern Colorado. The game against Oakland had the funniest story of the week, as part of the first half was played with a women’s basketball.
- Wisconsin (9-2) – Offensive rebounding was the key to the Badgers’ not-as-close-as-it-looks 69-64 victory over Marquette. The game was at the hostile Bradley Center, so it’s a good victory. Wisconsin got the unofficial state crown on Monday with a victory against Green Bay.
- Purdue (9-1) – Give the Boilermakers credit for going to Valparaiso and taking the Crusaders’ best shot before pulling out the 76-58 victory. Purdue’s defense has been excellent this season and will be the way this team wins games in Big Ten play and beyond.
- Minnesota (9-1) – Tubby Smith’s team went on the road and won at St. Joseph’s, then came home and beat Eastern Kentucky. Two more home snoozefests against mid-majors probably won’t teach us anything about the Golden Gophers, so we’ll wait until they open Big Ten play against Wisconsin on December 28.
- Michigan State (7-3) – At some point, the Spartans are going to have to beat a good team to be considered one. While the victory over Washington is nice, a miss against Syracuse and a narrow escape against Oakland just added to the national narrative that Michigan State is underachieving. Expect Tom Izzo to figure this out shortly. His team has one more big non-conference game against Texas on Wednesday, December 22.
- Northwestern (5-0) – The Wildcats didn’t play until after this writing, so they stay right here at number seven. Northwestern is done with finals, thanks to the quarter system, and thus plays twice this week – both at home and both against inferior competition.
- Michigan (7-2) – This team is starting to figure out its identity. Against Utah, the Wolverines did a great job of getting open looks on the way to scoring 75 points in 68 possessions. Darius Morris (16.8 PPG in his last five outings) continues to look like the real deal. This is a more dangerous team than any Big Ten opponent wants to admit.
- Indiana (7-2) – The Hoosiers played Kentucky tough for a while, but they couldn’t do enough to make it close down the stretch in an 81-62 loss. Now Tom Crean’s powder puff scheduling comes back with a games against SIU-Edwardsville and South Carolina State at Assembly Hall.
- Penn State (7-3) – Until the Nitanny Lions fix their defense, they’re going to be ranked pretty low. Talor Battle took 20 shots in a 79-69 loss to Virginia Tech, and made nine, but the odder thing was that he didn’t have an assist or a turnover in the game.
- Iowa (5-5) – The Hawkeyes split against in-state rivals Northern Iowa and Iowa State. This team isn’t going to be as bad as everyone thought and might even get a few wins in conference play, which might make it even more difficult for the conference to sneak seven teams into the NCAA Tournament.
A Look Ahead (all times EST)
- 12/13 – Wisconsin vs. Green Bay – Big Ten Network, 8 p.m.
- 12/15 – Minnesota vs. Akron – Big Ten Network, 8:30 p.m.
- 12/18 – Ohio State vs. South Carolina – CBS, 2 p.m.
- 12/18 – Illinois vs. UIC – Big Ten Network, 2 p.m.
- 12/18 – Iowa at Drake – 8 p.m.
Fun with Efficiency Margin and KenPom: The Big Ten is ranked first in Ken Pomeroy and first in Jeff Sagarin’s ratings. The rating systems get to their conclusions in very different ways, though, as neither really agrees about how the bottom of the conference stacks up.