Big Ten Weekend in Review

Posted by Brendan Brody on January 12th, 2016

Much like the NFL Wildcard games, the road was friendly to visiting Big Ten teams over the weekend. Impressive home wins from Indiana and Illinois on Sunday halted a four-game visitor’s winning streak, but blowouts were also a common theme, as only one of the weekend’s six contests featured a single-figure final scoring margin. As always, there were several impressive performances individually and from certain teams. Here are the weekend’s superlatives.

Malcolm Hill proved he's one of the best scorers in the Big Ten Sunday by scoring 30 points against Purdue. (Stephen Haas, Herald and Review)

Malcolm Hill proved he’s one of the best scorers in the Big Ten Sunday by scoring 30 points against Purdue. (Stephen Haas, Herald and Review)

Player of the Weekend: Illinois’ Malcolm Hill figured he would need to be a scorer when Purdue’s Raphael Davis started the game guarding his high-scoring teammate Kendrick Nunn. Hill did so to the tune of 13 points from a variety of different spots on the floor. When Davis moved over to Hill in the second half, Nunn went off for 18 points of his own. Hill, who had already by then found his groove, contributed 17 more as the juniors combined for 35 of the Illini’s 47 points coming after the break. Hill also led the team in rebounds (nine), tied for the team lead in assists (three), and added a pair of blocks. In a lost season in Champaign, Hill has been a bright spot in hitting for double figures in all 17 games. The total package that he brings beyond just scoring was on full display in Illinois’ impressive win, its first of the Big Ten season.

Super Sub of the Weekend: Maryland barely squeaked by Wisconsin in Madison on Saturday, and although it wasn’t to the level of his 39-point, 12-rebound performance against Penn State last week, Diamond Stone was quietly efficient in the victory. On a day when the Terps didn’t get much from Jake Layman or Rasheed Sulaimon, Stone went 4-of-5 from the field en route to an 11-point outing. In what was no doubt an emotional homecoming for the freshman from Milwaukee who spurned his home state school, Stone didn’t overdo it and was a key reason that the Terrapins remained perfect in league play at 4-0.

Best Win: Illinois does not have much height on the roster so it appeared that Purdue’s size on the inside would be a total mismatch. Instead the Illini came up with a clear strategy to convincingly beat a Top 25 team. They swarmed the post any time the ball entered into the lane, and became the first team  in 37 games to shoot over 50 percent from the floor against Purdue by attacking the rim. While checking in at 9-8 (1-3 Big Ten) doesn’t bode well for the team’s postseason aspirations, Hill and Nunn are capable of big nights and make Illinois a dangerous team in the next two months.

Worst Loss: It’s difficult to pick on Rutgers because it is not the most talented team and has been decimated by injuries. But the Scarlet Knights’ miserable performance on Saturday in losing to Nebraska by 34 points at home represents a new low. What had been an adequate defensive team up to this point was brutal in allowing the Cornhuskers to score 1.34 points per possession. Rutgers allowed the Nebraska guards to drive the lane whenever they wanted for easy baskets and generally looked disinterested in stopping them. Don’t be surprised if Eddie Jordan’s team fails to win another game the rest of the season.

Most Efficient Performance: Other than turning the ball over a bit too much in the first half, Northwestern got back on track in its 77-52 win over Minnesota Saturday. Ten first-half turnovers is way too many, but the Wildcats finished with a reasonable total of 13 miscues for the game. Led by the efforts of Aaron Falzon (6-of-9 from deep), Chris Collins’ squad made 11-of-25 three-pointers and 17-of-25 two-pointers after not shooting nearly as well in its two recent losses to Maryland and Ohio State. The Wildcats pounded the Gophers on the glass (+16), assisted on 64 percent of their made shots, and made 90.9 percent of their free throws. With two road wins and two home losses, Northwestern will look to get a key home victory tonight against Wisconsin.

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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