Big Ten M5: 02.18.13 EditionPosted by Deepak Jayanti on February 18th, 2013
- As we look ahead to this week’s Big Ten schedule, the Indiana – Michigan State game on Tuesday night may not only be a big game in the conference but may be the biggest match-up nationally this week as well. The Hoosiers will head to East Lansing as the top-ranked team but Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo is not comparing this game to the “David vs. Goliath” story. “I’m definitely not trying to make like it’s David against Goliath because it’s not, but it is the No. 1 team in the country, and I think earned and deserved and done consistently over the whole year,” Izzo said. The key to the game will be Derrick Nix’s defense against Cody Zeller in the paint. If Nix can stay on the floor without picking up some quick fouls, he may be able to force Zeller to defend him on the other end of the floor which could put pressure on other Hoosiers to shoot well on the road to pick up a win.
- Speaking of Indiana, despite the impending blockbuster game tomorrow night, the Hoosiers kept their focus by thumping Purdue, 83-55, on Saturday in Bloomington. Will Sheehey had a great game off the bench by scoring 22 points and was one of the main reasons behind IU’s big win over its intrastate rival. After Victor Oladipo went down in the first half with a sprained ankle, Sheehey stepped up to shoot 9-of-9 from the floor and the game should help boost confidence in his shot as they head to East Lansing. “I just try to stay aggressive regardless of what the situation is,” he said after the game.
- Even though the Michigan Wolverines have been one of the best programs in college hoops over the past year-plus, head coach John Beilein understands that he has a lot of work left to do to repair the image of his program. Beilein has talked extensively about the “fractured past” of the program and is trying to reconnect with former alumni, specifically the “Fab Five” that played in Ann Arbor in the early 1990s. “It’s a big challenge, you’ve had so many different coaches here over that time period,” he said. The basketball program hasn’t been as consistent as the football program in Ann Arbor and the four coaching changes since that era is a strong indication of its inconsistency. “Unlike football and some other programs where we’ve had a lot of consistency that holds the teams together, we’ve been a bit fragmented with basketball,” Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said.
- The Illini’s recent four-game winning streak has come as a result of improved offensive efficiency. Head coach John Groce has brought new energy to his team and encourages his guards to shoot from anywhere on the floor if they have a good look. When the Illini are moving the ball around and not settling for shots from beyond the arc in isolation, they have been very effective in the Big Ten. Illinois has averaged 1.19 points per possession which is higher than the Big Ten average of 1.01. Despite not having a true point guard on the roster, they have been very good with the ball as indicated by a 16.5% turnover percentage which is lower than the league average of 20.0%.
- It was a rough game for the Ohio State Buckeyes on Sunday in Madison because they got hammered by 22 points against the Badgers. After the game, head coach Thad Matta said, “We’ve seen the results if we’re not going to play defensively. We’re not a good basketball team.” Except for a win over Michigan a month ago, the Buckeyes continue to search for a marquee win over another highly-ranked team in the Big Ten because they want to head into March with some momentum. Junior guard Aaron Craft said, “Coaches can’t get us ready to play. The responsibility is on us as individual players.” The point guard was held to 2-of-9 shooting from the field and did not have an effective game, thanks to some stifling defense provided by Ben Brust.