Big Ten M5: 12.19.13 Edition

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on December 19th, 2013

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  1. Most people have been surprised with exactly how strong of a start Wisconsin has had this season. It’s even has some wonder if this could be the best Bo Ryan-led squad to ever come out of Madison. Well, this team’s adaptability certainly makes it a strong candidate to go further than any other one. It’s normal for Ryan’s Wisconsin teams to win in low-scoring, grind-it-out type of games, but this year’s Badgers are winning those and high-scoring affairs. Wisconsin has won while scoring in the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 100s (note to other teams: force a game in the 90s apparently). With a group of players that can play all over the floor, this team certainly has the talent level and ability to match-up with anyone and potentially make a deep run in March.
  2. Iowa was on a lot of people’s radars as a team to watch this season in the Big Ten, but it hasn’t just been its slew of starters that are making that come to fruition. It’s been Iowa’s bench and depth that have really been a difference maker for the team. It’s reserves are ranked third nationally in scoring and blocked shots and first in rebounding. It’s impressive stats for the back-ups that the Hawkeyes will need to continue to be successful in Big Ten play. Some of the top teams (read: Michigan State) are relatively thin so Iowa will have an advantage in terms of depth where it can potentially wear teams down.
  3. Tom Izzo has had plenty of worries these past few weeks. Namely, the injury report and who to play. Travis Trice and Gary Harris have both been held out this week with injuries, with no exact timetable for their returns. This has put a lot of pressure on Izzo to tinker and come up with varying line-ups that can be successful. Most stressful for the Spartans is that its lack of depth puts a bigger impetus on getting the starters and key reserves back quickly. With a match-up against Texas and the Big Ten season looming, how quickly they return will be critical to the team’s success.
  4. It’s tough to knock an undefeated team, but sometimes context needs to come into play. For Ohio State, its non-conference schedule has it ranked in the bottom third for toughness, so the question arises if the Buckeyes are that good or simply a byproduct of a weak schedule? The team did have what appeared to be a challenging road game at Marquette, but the Golden Eagles have fallen quickly since the early part of the season. Still, it’s tough to knock Ohio State when it’s won every game dominantly. It can only play the team’s on its schedule and it is handling them well. For those still doubting Ohio State, the conference season is just around the corner, where everyone will find out if its early record is because of a weak schedule or a talented team.
  5. With a week between games, Michigan coach John Beilein took a visit to a high-priority recruit this week. He ventured to Ohio to check on Luke Kennard, a 6′ 5″ shooting guard who is averaging just more than 40 points a game this high school season. Michigan made an offer to the five-star prospect this summer, the first for a Class of 2015 player from the Wolverines. Kennard is obviously a high-volume scorer and a top priority for Beilein and his staff. Being involved early in his recruitment certainly helps, too, as Kennard also has offers from Duke, North Carolina and just about every other Big Ten school.
Jonathan Batuello (61 Posts)

Jonathan Batuello is a journalist working out of Indiana and Big Ten correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow his Twitter account (@jcbatuello) for Big Ten basketball, Indiana high school sports and how to cope with losing at fantasy football.


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