Big Ten M5: New Year’s Eve EditionPosted by Deepak Jayanti on December 31st, 2012
- Wolverines’ guard Tim Hardaway Jr. did not play against Central Michigan on Saturday because of an ankle injury. Even though Trey Burke made sure that Michigan wrapped up its non-conference schedule with a win (88-73), Hardaway’s injury could be concerning for John Beilein if it remains an issue in the conference season. The coaching staff did not release any specifics around his exact date of return or even the nature of the injury but Burke added that “it could be a bone bruise.” Opening the Big Ten season against Northwestern on the road won’t be easy without Hardaway because the Wildcats have been looking for a signature win at home and played the Wolverines very well there last season but lost in overtime.
- After missing three games, freshman Jeremy Hollowell will be back for the Hoosiers for their conference season opener today against the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Hoosiers reported a “secondary violation” to the NCAA and per the proposal, he will be reinstated immediately and travel with the team to Iowa. Hollowell has averaged 5.7 PPG and 3.0 RPG during the non-conference slate, and more details about the violation will be disclosed later this week by the athletic department. Tom Crean will need Hollowell’s services against Iowa and the Gophers over the next two weeks to tip off Big Ten play.
- Illinois’ Tracy Abrams had a great homecoming on Saturday as the Illini edged Auburn 81-79 at the United Center in Chicago. Playing in front of his hometown family and friends, Abrams scored 27 points and dished out five assists against the Tigers. Brandon Paul only scored 13 points in this game but Abrams made sure the Illini did not hobble into conference play by dominating the game. The sophomore guard handles the primary point guard duties for John Groce and has averaged 12.1 PPG despite shooting just 30% from beyond the arc. Even though he isn’t consistent from long range, Abrams has shown glimpses of his ability to get to the basket by successfully taking his defender off the dribble.
- As the Spartans prepare for their Big Ten opener against the Gophers, Tom Izzo has indicated that he will continue to play Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne over the next few weeks as Branden Dawson continues to recover from last season’s ACL injury. Izzo was particularly impressed with Nix’s 25 points against Texas and wants to see Dawson play at the small forward position as his playing time increases during the season. A frontcourt of Nix, Payne and Dawson will be tough to defend and the Spartans should be able to control the boards with this group in most games. Dawson also provides Izzo with flexibility on defense because he usually locks down the best wing on the opposing team. He is expected to guard Gophers’ talented Rodney Williams (13.0 PPG) on Monday.
- After 12 non-conference games and a 10-2 record, Ohio State head coach Thad Matta has not been very impressed with his team thus far. Two losses to elite teams Kansas and Duke is reasonable, but the Buckeyes need better shooting (37% 3FG) from their stars during Big Ten play. The Buckeyes understand that there are few weak teams in the B1G and they can’t afford to have many bad shooting nights. Matta added, “This team is not good enough for us to not be playing at the level we’re capable of,” when asked about the season so far. Sophomore center Amir Williams (3.8 RPG) started for the first time this year and will need to provide a better defensive presence in the post if the Buckeyes hope to again compete for the conference title.