Big Ten M5: 02.04.13 Edition
Posted by jnowak on February 4th, 2013
- There are a few points each season at which it seems like a good time to re-evaluate where things stand in the conference, both on a general and individual scale. With the Big Ten season halfway complete, the Big Ten Network‘s Brent Yarina put together his choices for all-conference honors here. Without giving too much away, let’s just say the top teams in the conference are well-represented and there aren’t too many surprises on the first team. But there are some interesting choices for individual honors that may surprise you, especially considering how we thought the Big Ten would shake out heading into the season. What would be your choices at this point?
- Without question, Michigan has often looked this season like one of the best teams in the country. But it’s also appeared vulnerable, particularly in hostile road environments. Both of the Wolverines’ losses this season came against top teams on the road — against Ohio State, then at Indiana this weekend — and the Detroit Free Press‘ Drew Sharp believes Michigan can learn a bit from this most recent loss. Sharp writes that the Wolverines have failed in two huge spotlight opportunities, but can come away with some valuable lessons. He also makes the point that they may have no choice but to do so, with the difficult stretch they have coming up.
- When Illinois jumped out to a 12-0 record, it no doubt surprised just about every college basketball fan, at least to a certain extent. And while it was reasonable to expect that the Illini would stumble at least somewhat once they hit Big Ten play, they had compounded some signature wins that many figured meant Illinois was more for real than we expected them to be. But, as Herb Gould writes for the Chicago Sun-Times, this is hardly that same team anymore. The Illini can’t win on the road nor can they win at home, and suddenly those quality wins against Gonzaga and Butler may be the only thing keeping them afloat in their quest for an NCAA Tournament bid.
- Purdue has fallen on some hard times, especially earlier this season, but could things be slipping even further now? It had looked for a brief stretch in mid-January that the Boilermakers were starting to get things together and click a little bit, but their last two games have taken them a few steps backward. Jeff Washburn notes in his blog that after Indiana and Northwestern combined to score 172 points in Purdue’a last two games, even Tuesday’s trip to lowly Penn State could be a challenge. And beyond that, there are plenty more games against the conference’s heavyweights on the docket to worry about.
- Considering how Minnesota began the season, it’s hard to imagine that back-to-back wins would be something of an accomplishment, but at this point it does mean something. The Gophers had been sliding a bit in the conference and, though their two straight wins helps keep them afloat in the Big Ten race, they still have some things to sort out. Andre Hollins called the team’s performance against Iowa this weekend “stagnant,” and Amelia Rayno points out that the kinds of mistakes that nearly cost them the game against Iowa will not fly against teams like Michigan State, who the Gophers draw this week.
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