Big Ten Weekend in ReviewPosted by Brendan Brody on February 20th, 2017
In the third to last weekend of Big Ten conference play, the stars of the league took over. Wisconsin remained at the top of the standings after beating Maryland behind 20-point efforts from Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes. Purdue likewise kept pace at the top of the standings behind Caleb Swanigan‘s 23rd double-double of the season in a domination of Michigan State. What follows are the highs and lows from a six-game weekend Big Ten schedule.
- Player of the Weekend: Caleb Swanigan did to Michigan State what he always does, scoring 24 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in leading his team to a dominant win. The big man’s passing ability really stood out this weekend, as he led Purdue with five assists against only one turnover. Much of the Boilermakers’ offensive damage came from Swanigan either scoring himself or running the high-low game with Isaac Haas on the interior. The sophomore also made 9-of-10 foul shots, elevating his mark on the season to a robust 78.4 percent. Complete efforts like these are the reason that the burly forward is garnering serious consideration for the National Player of the Year award.
- Super Sub of the Weekend: One of the biggest what-ifs this season is how Nebraska might look if Ed Morrow, Jr. had not missed seven games with an injury? The Cornhuskers went 1-6 with Morrow out of the lineup, clearly missing the sophomore forward’s energy and work on the boards (even though the injury also allowed freshman Jordy Tshimanga to take some important strides). Despite only playing 15 minutes with foul trouble on Saturday against Ohio State, Morrow scored 10 points, grabbed six rebounds and posted a 141.0 offensive rating for the game. This keyed Nebraska’s first road win since a New Year’s Day victory at Maryland.
- Best Win: It’s probably too late for Illinois to turn things around in time for an NCAA Tournament bid, but give the Illini credit for winning a road game in Iowa City over the weekend. John Groce‘s team could have easily packed it in after a first half in which his team committed 10 turnovers, but the Illini regrouped and held Iowa to 31.0 percent shooting from the floor after halftime. This was an important win for Illinois’ faint postseason hopes, which are still on life support but would probably have been over with another loss this weekend.
- Worst Loss: Ohio State at 5-10 lives in the same neighborhood of the Big Ten standings as Illinois, but the Buckeyes suffered the opposite experience in losing a late five-point lead at home to Nebraska. JaQuan Lyle still doesn’t look completely healthy, which results in a team lacking depth struggling to score. The Buckeyes also turned the ball over 18 times, including a crucial miscue at the end of the game that allowed Nebraska’s game-winning three-point play. Ohio State probably needs a minimum of three more wins just to be in contention for an NIT bid. My, how this program has fallen.
- Most Efficient Performance: Purdue posted 1.13 points per possession against Michigan State on Saturday, and did so without its typical prowess from the three-point line (5-of-15 3FG). Instead, the Boilermakers carved up the Michigan State defense at the rim — shooting 57.9 percent for the game on two-point shots, assisting on 66.7 percent of their made field goals, and converting 21-of-25 from the charity stripe. Purdue frustrated Sparty’s Miles Bridges defensively for much of the game, ultimately forcing Michigan State to turn the ball over on 21.1 percent of its possessions.