Big Ten Weekend in Review

Posted by Brendan Brody on January 5th, 2016

After a non-conference season that seemingly flew by, we’ve now moved into Big Ten play. Saturday’s action in particular featured a number of games that allowed anyone who hadn’t checked out much of the Big Ten a chance to catch up on what they’ve missed. All 14 team played over the weekend, so what follows are a few of the highlights from the first slate of weekend action.

Melo Trimble did a little bit of everything for Maryland as they knocked off Northwestern on Saturday night. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Melo Trimble did a little bit of everything for Maryland as they knocked off Northwestern on Saturday night. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Player of the Weekend: Yogi Ferrell (Indiana) and Jarrod Uthoff (Iowa) played well in their teams’ wins, but Maryland’s Melo Trimble gets the nod here for his play on both ends of the floor. He and Rasheed Suliamon made things miserable for Northwestern’s shooters, holding Tre Demps to 4-of-16 shooting and the Wildcats to 2-of-20 from behind the three-point line. While Trimble’s perimeter defense was outstanding, his play on the offensive end was also noteworthy. Seven of his eight assists came in the first half when his shot wasn’t falling, but he came alive for 17 points in the second half with timely long-range bombing every time Northwestern started to make a run. Trimble’s assist rate jump from his freshman season (21.2%) to this year (34.9%) is partially a function of a more talented cast, but his passing has really improved this season. He ended up with 24 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists as the Terrapins notched a quality road win in Evanston.

Super Sub of the Weekend: Indiana’s Troy Williams hasn’t started conference play very well and James Blackmon, Jr. is out indefinitely. Luckily for the Hoosiers, OG Anunoby has emerged as a legitimate playmaker with the extra minutes — a stat line of 11 points in 11 minutes on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting against Nebraska should surely earn him some additional court time in the future. His key steal in the late stages of Saturday’s game when the Cornhuskers were still within striking distance allowed Indiana to close it out. Tom Crean is not afraid to play a deep bench, so look for Anunoby to see extended minutes as Big Ten play progresses.

Best Win: Iowa had just about the best week it could have hoped for. Hawkeye Nation surely cringed when it saw that its team had to open conference play with No. 1 Michigan State followed by a road test at top-10 Purdue, but Iowa came out of it with a 2-0 Big Ten record and appears in great shape going forward. Coming back from a 37-20 halftime deficit to win in West Lafayette erases much of the stench from December’s second half meltdown against Iowa State, and proves to the Hawkeyes that they can be the team providing the heartbreak. Jared Uthoff led the way with 25 points using an array of big shots, and Purdue simply couldn’t handle Iowa’s 1-2-2 pressure in turning the ball over 14 times and shooting 31 percent in the second half.

Worst Loss: Northwestern didn’t exactly do itself any favors in losing at home to Maryland, but Nebraska continued to show flashes of good play while still coming away with another home loss to Indiana. The Cornhuskers could very well have won Saturday’s game after holding the Hoosiers to 1.11 points per possession, but they turned the ball over 14 times in another disappointing result. Starting off with two losses in conference play is bad, but two home losses is very difficult to overcome for a team that had showed some promise in non-conference action.

Most Efficient Team Performance: Wisconsin turned the ball over 26 times in its late December loss to Green Bay. That would have been the Badgers’ total turnover number over five games last season. On Saturday they avenged last season’s surprising loss to Rutgers by taking care of the ball (nine turnovers), scoring 1.20 points per possession, and  grabbing 87.9 percent of their defensive rebounds. They also shot 53.4 percent from the field as all five starters posted offensive ratings over 101.0. Granted, Rutgers was missing multiple players, but Wisconsin looked better on Saturday than they have at any point over the last month.

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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