Big Ten M5: 01.10.14 Edition
Posted by Brendan Brody on January 10th, 2014
- Much like fellow freshman Nigel Hayes, Ohio State’s Marc Loving has the advantage of coming into a situation where he can blend in on a top-5 team with plenty of upperclassmen. Loving has been getting more extended looks from Thad Matta in terms of playing time, and has been taking advantage of the opportunity. Loving stayed on the floor through much of the Buckeyes’ furious comeback the other night against Michigan State over veterans LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith Jr. Loving has averaged 11.5 points per game in his last two, and is part of the reason why Matta is taking advantage of having a deeper bench then in previous years.
- Tom Izzo really still doesn’t know what to think after the Spartans held off Ohio State on Tuesday night. “We survived, great teams have to survive. I think we’re a damn good team. But I don’t know where we are right now,” stated the coach. Injuries have continued to hamper the team, as seniors Adreian Payne and Keith Appling both battled lingering foot problems and muscle cramps respectively. This win could be the type of close-call victory that makes championship-caliber teams tougher, or it could be a sign that this preseason national championship contender will struggle to hit its ceiling because of injury problems.
- Illinois made their first appearance of the season in the top 25 this week, but it might be a short stay after they were thoroughly dismantled by Wisconsin on Wednesday night in Madison. The team really is ahead of schedule in the John Groce tenure however, as they still sit at 13-3. Perspective is needed as this unit that features a bench filled with freshman, and two transfers in their starting five has done a really good job just getting to the level they’re at right now. The Illini should still make the NCAA Tournament, but the game on Wednesday showed that they still have a ways to go to get back to the upper level of the conference.
- John Beilein deserve a tremendous amount of credit for honoring the letter of intent signed by Austin Hatch. Hatch survived two plane crashes and was in a coma for two months. He made his triumphant return to the court recently at his new high school in Los Angeles. And in Hollywood fashion, he drilled his first shot, causing his team to rush the court to congratulate him. Whether or not Hatch ever has an impact on the floor for Michigan, his story should be told to everyone.
- Wisconsin continued to roll on Wednesday night, and in the process secured their place in the history books. They officially have now gotten off to the best start in school history with their 16-0 mark. Despite the total curb-stomping they put on the Illini, Bo Ryan still wasn’t pleased with the fact that Illinois grabbed 25 offensive rebounds. This illustrates part of the reason why this program under Ryan consistently overachieves. There isn’t any danger of this, or any of his teams getting caught up in the hype or starting to enjoy their press clippings too much. Ryan will make sure they stayed motivated and focused on the fact that there is still a lot of basketball left to be played this season.