Big Ten Week in Review

Posted by Brendan Brody on January 18th, 2017

The standings in the Big Ten continue to be a jumbled mess, with 10 teams within two games of the top spot. All but Rutgers has won a conference game, and aside from Wisconsin, is there another Final Four contender among the bunch? Here’s the best and worst of the last week of Big Ten action.

Jaquan Lyle led Ohio State in both points and assists as the Buckeyes won their first conference game over Michigan State. (Jim Davidson)

  • Player of the Week: Ohio State’sJaquan Lyle had one of the most efficient outings of his career as the Buckeyes picked up their most significant win off the season over Michigan State. Lyle used his size to bully Sparty’s point guard tandem of Cassius Winston and Tum Tum Nairn, but his primary contributions to the victory were twofold: 5-of-7 shooting from three-point range and six assists along with only one turnover. Lyle, who was shooting a poor 28.2 percent on the season from deep just three games ago, has improved to 36.4 percent after making nine of his last 14 attempts. The sophomore has had a maddening tendency to make a couple head-scratching mistakes per game, but if he is finally becoming one of the best point guards in the league, Ohio State should be in good position to turn things around after a slow Big Ten start.

  • Super Sub of the Week: Penn State came out relatively flat against Minnesota on Saturday, but Mike Watkins was the exception, bringing great energy in contributing six points and eight rebounds during the first half. He finished up by notching his fourth double-double of the season with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Watkins isn’t a polished scorer on the low blocks, but Penn State also does not typically do a good job in getting the ball to the redshirt freshman. He’s shooting 55.7 percent from the floor and is a big reason why Penn State moved to 3-2 in Big Ten play.
  • Best Win: Maryland was the only road team to come away victorious over the weekend, as the Terps picked up an impressive win at Illinois to move to 16-2 overall (4-1 Big Ten). Maryland didn’t really shoot the ball very well, but it used an aggressive perimeter defense keyed by Anthony Cowan and Jaylen Brantley to snag eight steals. Because of this, the Terrapins were able to utilize the speed of their guards to score in transition. It wasn’t a pretty performance, but Maryland now owns three road wins over top 100 teams, per KenPom.
  • Worst Loss: Minnesota capped off a disappointing week by getting manhandled at Michigan State before allowing Penn State to rally to win in State College over the weekend. Poor shooting and turnovers were responsible for the loss, as the Golden Gophers made only two three-pointers and committed a whopping 20 turnovers against the Nittany Lions. Minnesota to this point has been one of best defensive units in the Big Ten, but they will not last long in the conference race if the shooting and ball-handling woes continue.
  • Most Efficient Team Performance: Northwestern put on a clinic in efficiency on Sunday night as the Wildcats beat Iowa by 35 points. They scored 1.33 points per possession while holding the Hawkeyes to a measly 0.81 PPP, pummeling Iowa on the glass by 15 boards on its way to a resounding victory. Scottie Lindsey and Bryant McIntosh scored a combined 42 points on 17-of-26 shooting, while Vic Law held Big Ten scoring leader Peter Jok in check with single-digit scoring for the first time all season. The Wildcats closed the game on a 28-6 run fueled by a pick-and-roll clinic between McIntosh and Dererk Pardon. Northwestern showed again that it has the tools necessary to finish in the top four of the Big Ten this season.
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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