Big Ten Feast Week Recap

Posted by Brendan Brody on December 1st, 2014

After 38 games in seven days, Big Ten teams had some noteworthy performances of both the good and bad variety. In all, three teams came away with championships in the tournaments they played in. Illinois won the Las Vegas Invitational, Maryland took first in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic, and Wisconsin won the stacked Battle 4 Atlantis field. While it was impossible to watch absolutely everything, especially with the whole pesky, “hang out with relatives on Thanksgiving” getting in the way of hoop watching, here’s a brief recap of what went down during the last seven days.

Bronson Koenig keyed a second half rally as Wisconsin came back to beat Georgetown in the Battle 4 Atlantis. (Reuters)

Bronson Koenig keyed a second half rally as Wisconsin came back to beat Georgetown in the Battle 4 Atlantis. (Reuters)

  • Wisconsin Shows Off Depth That Matters: Many times when announcers or others cite depth when discussing a certain team, it simply means that the coach plays a lot of players. A team with true depth has players coming off the bench that can win a game for them. This is exactly what happened in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis, as Bronson Koenig and Duje Dukan combined to score 18 of the team’s 33 points in the second stanza, with the Badgers holding off a pesky Georgetown team in the process. With Frank Kaminsky struggling and Traveon Jackson and Josh Gasser in foul trouble, they just found a way to win with other guys doing the heavy lifting. Things were back to normal in the championship game, as Kaminsky and Jackson led the way. This team has so many weapons, and is off to a 7-0 start that is making preseason projections look really solid right now.

  • Middle Pack Leaders Emerging: Illinois, Maryland, and Purdue all had solid showings during the week, and have started things out just the way they needed to if they want to make the NCAA Tournament. The Illini blitzed a decent Indiana State team, then won a slug fest against Baylor in which they forced 15 turnovers, but got out rebounded by 14. Maryland showed that it’s freshmen class is the real deal in Kansas City, as they got 31 points from Melo Trimble in their win against Arizona State, and then some clutch shots from Jared Nickens and interior defense from Michal Cekovsky in upsetting Iowa State. Purdue started slowly in Maui, but picked up two wins against Missouri and BYU. Right now these three teams look to be the next in line after the top four of Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State.
  • Trying to Figure Out Rutgers: On one hand, they aren’t that hard to figure out in that they still look to be the worst team in the league. But on the other hand, they did knock off a power conference team in Vanderbilt after losing to an 0-4 St. Peter’s squad at home. They actually hung with Virginia for a half, but did so by scoring only 18 points in the first half, and eight in the second. To put this lack of scoring into perspective,  DJ Newbill has games individually of 35 points, 29 points, and 28 points so far by himself. Eddie Jordan finding some consistency has to be something he’s searching for, because if he doesn’t find it, things will get ugly in New Jersey during conference play.
  • Stars Missing in Action: They aren’t missing in the sense that they aren’t on the court, but it was hard to really notice Andre Hollins, JerShon Cobb, and Branden Dawson having much of an impact this week if one checked out their teams. In Dawson’s defense, he was coming off of having the flu. But Hollins only averaged 8.5 per game on 33 percent shooting from the floor in New York City. Cobb was even worse in the Cancun Challenge, averaging only 2.5 PPG on 29 percent shooting. Whether their are injury problems that aren’t being disclosed, or simply an early crisis in confidence, their respective teams need more from these seniors than what they’re getting right now.
  • Dez Wells Injury: Wells is out for at least four weeks right now after breaking his wrist in their victory over Iowa State. The Terps did get Evan Smotrcyz back from his injury, but this could be a devastating blow for Maryland. However, it could help them in the long run. Wells is using the third most possessions in the conference at 29.9 percent. Now others will get more of a chance to make plays on the offensive end, which should help them have a more balanced offense once he comes back.
Brendan Brody (307 Posts)

Brendan Brody is in his fourth season covering the Big Ten for RTC. Email him at, or follow him on twitter @berndon4.

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