Key Questions for Michigan State at Wisconsin

Posted by Alex Moscoso and Brendan Brody on February 9th, 2014

Michigan State‘s visit to Wisconsin today might have been a possible match-up of the top two Big Ten teams a few weeks ago. Now, it’s a tale of two different teams. While the Spartans sit atop the league standings, the Badgers has lost five of their last seven and are hoping to avoid dipping below .500 in the conference. Big Ten microsite writers Alex Moscoso and Brendan Brody ask each other questions about this match-up in order to preview what may happen when they take the court.

Sam Dekker and the Badgers have need a big win against Michigan State to stop the bleeding. (Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports)

Sam Dekker and the Badgers need a big win to stop the bleeding. (Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports)

AM: The Spartan’s offense stalled against Georgetown without Adreian Payne and Brandon Dawsen. On Sunday, Dawsen will be out, but Payne will be back in. Will the return of Payne be enough to get this offense back on track and put numbers up against the Badgers?

BB: It’s gotten to the point now where we really don’t know what roster the Spartans will have on a game-by-game basis. Just when they get Payne back, they decide to sit Keith Appling on Thursday night because of his nagging wrist injury. Even without their floor general, they still shot 12-23 from behind the arc against Penn State. Regardless of whether or not Appling plays Sunday, there’s no indication that Sparty won’t put points on the board against Wisconsin. The three-point shooting won’t be there like that every game obviously, but Payne and Matt Costello will be able to get plenty of points in the paint against a Badger unit that struggles to guard inside. In their last seven games, Wisconsin has allowed 51.5 % shooting on two-pointers. Payne will get more comfortable in his second game back, and Appling or Travis Trice should be able to get in the lane like a lot of point guards have been able to do recently against the Badgers.

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Big Ten M5: 01.31.14 Edition

Posted by Brendan Brody on January 31st, 2014


  1. Michigan State sophomore Matt Costello has seen his role become much more important with Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson sidelined. He posted a double-double in the Spartans’ win against Iowa on Tuesday night, which led to Tom Izzo calling it “ the best game of his life.” Costello has done a great job blocking shots all season long, but it seems as though he’s getting more comfortable playing extended minutes. His rebounding will be sorely needed until the Spartans are back at full strength. It will be interesting to see if the former top-100 recruit can develop a back-to-the-basket game in his next two years in East Lansing.
  2. The B1G season went from strange to borderline wacky Wednesday night when supposed cellar dwellers (at least according to preseason rankings) Penn State and Northwestern won on the road against Ohio State and Wisconsin, respectively. Both of these teams were ranked in the top five nationally a mere three weeks ago. More on Ohio State in a moment, but Wisconsin’s issues can be traced to how well it’s letting other teams shoot the ball, and how poorly it’s shooting from behind the arc. Teams have been living in the paint in all four recent losses, and until the Badgers get that fixed, they’ll continue to hover around .500 in conference play.
  3. Ohio State also looked like a potential Final Four contender until recently, but they’ve arguably looked even worse than Wisconsin in the last couple of weeks. It’s disturbing that senior Lenzelle Smith Jr. was quoted as saying that the team “doesn’t care enough.” Maybe these quotes will spark something in the Buckeyes and they’ll play with more emotion going forward. But Smith and fellow senior Aaron Craft, who both started in the Final Four as sophomores, need to do more on the court in terms of providing senior leadership. Smith needs to shoot better and Craft — despite the free pass the national media seemingly gives him — needs to stop turning the ball over at what has been an alarming rate during their recent struggles.
  4. In happier news, Minnesota is one of the teams in the league that has outperformed against expectations so far. Everyone knows that the team has missed the inside presence and rebounding of the graduated Trevor Mbakwe, but that doesn’t mean that Oto Osenieks hasn’t played well as a stretch-four during his junior season. Osenieks isn’t ever going to average 10 rebounds a game, but he’s improved quite a bit since his last season under former coach Tubby Smith. This can mainly be viewed in his three-point shooting, as the lanky junior has gone from only hitting 2-of-26 as a sophomore, to 12-of-37 during the 2013-14 campaign.
  5. When Penn State jumped out to a 47-40 lead at halftime in its first league game against Michigan State, you could see that this team had the potential to jump up and bite some of the Big Ten heavyweights this season. And after an 0-6 start, the Nittany Lions have won their last two after Wednesday night’s victory in Columbus. They got this win despite many setbacks that should have doomed them to defeat, overcoming a huge free throw disparity and some questionable calls that went against them. After failing to close out the game in numerous close contests, it will be interesting to see whether getting this win can be a springboard for Penn State going forward.
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Big Ten M5: 01.20.14 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) on January 20th, 2014


  1. Terone and Ronnie Johnson don’t necessarily receive the glare of a national spotlight like the Harrison twins from Kentucky, but they are a formidable combination of brothers themselves. While Terone has averaged 13.4 PPG to help the Boilermakers with the offense, Ronnie has averaged 3.7 APG to set the tone in the half-court. The brothers have come through in the clutch lately, loggin recent wins over Illinois and Penn State. After the win over the Nittany Lions, older brother Terone said of his younger sibling, “But at the end of the game, he made a big steal for us, which we thought was great and we congratulate him for that.” With a 13-5 overall record, it is uncertain if the Boilers have the juice to make the NCAA Tournament, but they will need the brothers to win a couple of road games if they hope to be considered by the committee in March.
  2. Sometimes the certainty of not having your best player around can benefit a team in a positive way. With Mitch McGary sidelined for at least a few more weeks, the Wolverines may have finally found their identity, now clearly under the leadership of sophomore Nik Stauskas. Stauskas went off for 23 points over Wisconsin, nailing a pull-up three to win the game on the road in Madison. With the win, John Beilein’s squad now sits at the top of the Big Ten with a perfect 5-0 record, but more importantly, the Wolverines are clicking on the offensive end. Even Bo Ryan was impressed with the sophomore’s performance when he said: “Any time a guy steps back like that, you try to cover ground like that with that quick a release? … That step-back’s so fast and that release is so fast, you’re not going to (defend it). He’s quick. He’s like a cat.”
  3. Speaking of injuries helping a team improve, Adreian Payne’s sore foot is giving an opportunity for Matt Costello to take advantage of additional playing time and gain confidence in his offensive game. With Payne out for three games, Costello has been actively involved in the half-court, specifically running the pick-and-roll with Gary Harris. Harris was on fire from the field against Illinois on Saturday night, scoring 23 points with most of them coming off the pick-and-roll with Costello. Costello chipped in with eight points and showed off his excellent jumper away from the hoop. These minutes will help Tom Izzo once Payne comes back because Costello’s confidence will be very high based on his performances while Payne was out.
  4. When Wisconsin was still unbeaten, we were raving about their offensive versatility, and specifically the fact that all five of their starters could shoot from the perimeter and score with anybody. But we may have slightly overlooked some of their defensive flaws and the two losses last week showed why they are not a lock to win the conference title. During both games, the Baddgers experienced numerous defensive breakdowns, which could haunt them over the next few weeks when they face Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State. Michigan’s Nik Stauskas had a field day against their backcourt with 23 points, and during the late minutes against Indiana, Yogi Ferrell and Stanford Robinson found their way into the paint rather easily against the porous Wisconsin defense.
  5. Indiana‘s loss to Northwestern at home on Saturday is a primary example of a “letdown game.” Just a few days after their fans rushed the court because they ended Wisconsin’s unbeaten season, the Hoosiers sleptwalked for most of the game against the Wildcats. They shot a dismal 25 percent from the field instead of relying on Noah Vonleh to take them to a win. Vonleh ended up with 17 points, but he should have taken more shots because the IU backcourt of Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey shot an icy 3-of-21 from the field. Inconsistent shooting has been a concern for the Hoosiers, but they need to recognize that Vonleh is good enough to carry the team in the paint if their long-range shooting is off on a given night.
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Big Ten Weekend in Review

Posted by Brendan Brody on January 6th, 2014

The opening weekend of B1G conference play consisted of six games that were played to varying degrees of competitiveness. There were no upsets, but there were certainly some fireworks. Iowa’s Fran McCaffery might have drawn a future suspension for his outburst in the second half of his team’s loss at Wisconsin. Penn State’s DJ Newbill also was shown the exit after he got into an altercation with Illinois’ Kendrick Nunn. Here are some of the other happenings from the weekend.

Gary Harris seemed to find his shooting stroke again in Michigan State's victory at Indiana.

Gary Harris seemed to find his shooting stroke again in Michigan State’s victory at Indiana.

Player of the Weekend: Gary Harris: Harris showed signs of shaking off his post-injury rust against Penn State last Tuesday, but he really broke out on Saturday in Bloomington, going for 26 points and five steals in Michigan State’s 73-56 win. Harris went 5-of-10 from deep, scoring eight points in a row during a 10-0 first half stretch that helped bury the Hoosiers early. More than just his scoring output, what showed that Harris is nearing 100 percent was how active he was defensively. Indiana tends to turn the ball over a good deal, but Harris was doing his best by flying around the perimeter to make sure the trend continued. The preseason Big Ten Player of the Year is slowly starting to show why he was picked for that honor, and also why he’s considered to be a potential lottery pick next June.

Super Sub of the Weekend: Matt Costello: Granted Costello only scored two points against Indiana, but the sophomore was another defensive standout for Sparty. He blocked three shots in 15 minutes of action, and forced a couple of other misses simply by staying big in the post. Michigan State blocked nine total shots as a team, and held the Hoosiers to an awful 36.8 percent shooting on two-pointers. Costello was a huge part of why Indiana’s shooting numbers were so poor, despite his limited minutes.

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Big Ten M5: 12.10.13 Edition

Posted by Alex Moscoso on December 10th, 2013


  1. Last week was pretty bad for Michigan State. Not only were the Spartans beaten at home by North Carolina, but their best player, sophomore Gary Harris, re-aggravated a prior ankle injury. Now, sophomore big man Matt Costello is expected to miss two weeks with an undisclosed illness. Costello was only averaging 3.4 PPG and 3.9 RPG this season, but with Adreian Payne and Keith Appling also banged up, Tom Izzo could use all the bodies he can get. Lucky for them, their schedule remains devoid of any real challenge until December 21 when they will play Texas in Austin. For the next few weeks, head coach Tom Izzo needs to concentrate on getting his squad completely healthy for conference play.
  2. Unlike the Spartans, Michigan has no such reprieve as the #1 Arizona Wildcats come to Ann Arbor on Saturday. The Wolverines have had a rough start to the season, recording three losses in eight games played already and dropping out of the Top 25. However, a win over the newly top-ranked Wildcats would certainly vault them back into the national conversation and possibly change the trajectory of their season. Thus far, sophomores Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III have not made the necessary jumps from their freshman seasons to help their team compete for a conference title and another trip to the Final Four. They’ll need to figure it out quick, otherwise Aaron Gordon and company may run them off their own court this weekend.
  3. Most of us figured that LaQuinton Ross had put it all together last March and was due for a breakout season in Columbus this year. He’s fallen well short of those expectations so far, though, shooting only 22 percent going into last week’s games. But something clicked over the last seven days as Ross averaged 21.5 points per game on 61.5 percent shooting in the wins versus Maryland and Central Connecticut State. For his troubles, Ross was selected as  the Big Ten Player of the Week. The Buckeyes have the number one defensive efficiency rating in the country as they only allow their opponents 87.3 points per 100 possessions — their offense though, remains outside the top 50. If Ross can become the offensive threat that was anticipated before the season, then there are no limits to what Thad Matta’s team can achieve this year.
  4. Although they’re a young team, Indiana has proven itself capable of competing with just about anyone. The majority of the Hoosiers’ production comes from underclassmen Yogi Ferrell and Noah Vonleh; Will Sheehey, however, is the lone starting senior and provides veteran leadership for the squad. He brings the intensity needed to motivate the others and has upped his own production in points and rebounds per game from last season. Despite all this, head coach Tom Crean says he needs even more out of his veteran. The Hoosiers would like to see him average more than just 10 PPG and become a more legitimate threat to drop 20+ points regularly on teams. Going into conference play, a third offensive option would help boost the Hoosiers into the top third of the Big Ten standings.
  5. If you’ve seen Iowa play at all this season, you know that the Hawkeyes can score the ball; they’re currently ranked ninth in offensive efficiency, scoring 117.4 points per 100 possessions. A point of concern coming into the season was long-range shooting but Fran McCaffery’s team has answered the critics by making 37 percent of their long balls so far. More impressively, they’ve done it without their best long-distance shooter, Josh Oglesby, who may return from injury as early as this month, in the lineup. Iowa has been on a roll without him, getting great contributions from their returning star, Roy Devyn Marble, and their talented newcomer, Jarrod Uthoff. But if Oglesby can make the big threes in late-game situations, something the team could have used in its lone loss to Villanova, he may add an extra win or two for the Hawkeyes this season. If Iowa wants to win at least a share of the Big Ten title, an effective Oglesby can only help in that mission.
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Michigan State’s Loss to North Carolina: Three Questions Sparty Must Answer

Posted by Brendan Brody on December 5th, 2013

Michigan State’s run as the number one team in the land is likely over after losing convincingly to North Carolina in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge Wednesday night. The Spartans went down 79-65 in a game in which they were outrebounded, outhustled, and just generally beaten down by the enigmatic Tar Heels. While not an excuse, the Spartans’ three best players all suffered some sort of ailment in the contest, as Gary Harris tweaked his injured ankle, Keith Appling suffered a hip pointer from a nasty spill, and Adreian Payne had a muscle cramp that he couldn’t shake. But nobody else stepped up, as the team shot only 35.9 percent from the field, allowed the Tar Heels to score 1.09 points per possession, and were whipped on the defensive glass (UNC grabbed 39 percent of its offensive rebounding opportunities). None of this will happen to Tom Izzo’s team very often as the season plays out. To answer the titular question, though, the loss isn’t all that meaningful in that it was to a team that very well may spend a good portion of the season in the Top 25. But questions remain that Michigan State will have to answer if it is really to prove that it is a serious national title contender. Here are three in particular.

Roy Williams got the last laugh Wednesday night against Tom Izzo and Michigan State

Roy Williams got the last laugh Wednesday night against Tom Izzo and Michigan State

  1. Does Michigan State have the depth it needs to contend for a national title? This game would have been the perfect opportunity for someone like Branden Dawson, Travis Trice, or Denzel Valentine to take over, but it didn’t happen. Dawson was silent to the tune of scoring only two points and more importantly grabbing only three rebounds. Trice had five steals, but along with only two assists and four turnovers. Valentine shot 1-of-4 from the field and didn’t do anything else to make an impact. If your three best players are struggling with injuries or just off nights, someone else has to come through and none of these likely candidates stepped up. This team is built on the big three of Harris, Payne and Appling, a trio that might be the best group in terms of combined talent and experience of any team in the country, but the others will have to contribute more consistently if Sparty is to reach the final weekend of the season. Read the rest of this entry »
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Three Takeaways from Michigan State’s Champions Classic Performance

Posted by Max Jakubowski on November 13th, 2013

Youth or experience? It was the key question posed going into Tuesday night’s showdown between Michigan State and Kentucky, and the Spartans’ experience won out after holding on for a 78-74 win over Kentucky. The Spartans will presumably be the new #1 in the polls next week, but before that, here are a few takeaways from the huge Michigan State win:

Gary Harris knows his Spartans are the new number one.

Gary Harris knows his Spartans are the new number one.

  • Michigan State will only go as far as its point guard play this season, and boy, did Keith Appling silence the critics with an incredible stat line of 22 points, seven assists, seven rebounds, four steals, and only three turnovers. Appling has been known to have turnover issues and a showing like last night will go a long way to raising the senior ‘s confidence with the ball and running the team effectively. Appling’s backcourt mate Gary Harris also contributed a huge 15-point first half performance. Along with the combined 42 points from the two Michigan State guards, both were active in intercepting the passing lanes of Kentucky and causing a total of 17 turnovers. After Kentucky had tied the game with 4:48 left, Appling hit a huge three from the corner and then Harris stole the ball and finished with a layup to put MSU up for good. Guard play in March wins championships, and if Appling and Harris can continue to make major plays like those, Tom Izzo’s squad has as good a chance as any team to make it to Dallas for the Final Four.

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Big Ten M5: 10.29.13 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on October 29th, 2013


  1. Matt Painter needs A.J.Hammons to step up this season in order to compete in the Big Ten, but Hammons needs to show more maturity and his recent suspension will not help his case. Painter suspended his sophomore big man for the Boilermakers’ first two exhibition games and the season opener for violating team’s rules. “A.J. has been suspended for the first three games of this season for conduct not representative of this program or university,” Painter said in a news release. Hammons averaged 10 points per game last season, but is expected to increase his scoring average with an offseason of strength training and general skills improvement. If Hammons can stay healthy and disciplined, his physical talents will carry him through his sophomore season.
  2. New head coaches need help with several facets of the game, including recruiting, player development and strength training. Chris Collins hired former Notre Dame guard Chris Quinn to help him develop his talent in Evanston. Quinn averaged 17.7 points per game at Notre Dame and played six seasons in the NBA before moving into coaching. He was an excellent shooter who played in a disciplined offense under Mike Brey in South Bend. Collins is trying to change the culture at Northwestern and Quinn’s success should help him develop talented wings such as JerShon Cobb.
  3. Speaking of experienced guards, Ohio State has a veteran backcourt with Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith, Jr. College hoops fans don’t need any introduction to Craft’s ability to influence the game on the defensive end, but Smith has the skill set in place to explode offensively for Thad Matta. Two years ago, the pair started in a Final Four game and they are ready to lead the Buckeyes back to the Final Four again. “You have to lead guys,” Smith says. “As senior leaders, a lot of teammates will come to us. Being the older guys, you have to be the one who knows what to do.” If Smith can provide an offensive spark and LaQuinton Ross can take the scoring load vacated by DeShaun Thomas, then Craft can focus on defense and use his leadership skills to help Matta get back to another Final Four.
  4. Experience is something that Tom Crean‘s Indiana squad will lack this season. Will Sheehey is incumbent leader returning, so the coach knows that he will have to rely on freshmen to step up on both ends of the floor. Crean remains patient about the freshmen this season and understands that there will be some necessary growing pains. Freshman forward Noah Vonleh impressed Hoosier fans in the exhibition games, but he will have to evolve his game throughout the season to perform well against Big Ten defenses. “The bottom line every day for us: Do you come in mentally prepared? Do you come in with great energy? Do you come in ready to not only work hard, but compete to win?” Crean asks. Vonleh and another talented forward, Troy Williams, will need to pick up easy points in transition to allow Yogi Ferrell to carry most of the burden in the half-court.
  5. If you haven’t heard the buzz in the Big Ten, Michigan State is the favorite to lock down the league title and contend for a national championship. Sophomore forward Matt Costello is looking to increase his contribution as a sophomore to help his team cut down the nets next April. He hopes to bring a “bad boy” attitude to the floor and help in the “hustle” aspects of the game. “If I can be a Dennis Rodman, I’ll be great with that,” Costello said, referencing the energetic, defensive standout on the Pistons’ “Bad Boy” squads of yesteryear. Tom Izzo’s squads are known as scrappy and Costello could end up being one of those guys who brings great intangibles to a team full of offensive talent with Gary Harris, Adreian Payne and Keith Appling.
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2013-14 RTC Class Schedule: Michigan State Spartans

Posted by BHayes on September 6th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler. Periodically throughout the preseason, RTC will take an in-depth look at the schedules of some of the more prominent teams in college basketball.

Watch out for Sparty in 2013-14. Tom Izzo returns nearly every key contributor from his Sweet 16 squad of a year ago, with only bruising big man Derrick Nix since departed. More good news for East Lansing’s finest: the Big Ten shouldn’t prove quite as challenging as it did last season as fellow top-four finishers Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio State all suffered major personnel losses in the offseason. That may mean some turnover at the top, especially with a number of teams in the bottom half of the conference looking improved from a season ago. So, sure – you can expect a little reshuffling at the top of the Big Ten. But with the returns of Keith Appling, Gary Harris, and Adreian Payne (among others) to East Lansing, you should also feel pretty safe in believing that Sparty will be right where they always are come March – in the hunt for a Big Ten title, preparing themselves for a sustained Tournament push.

The Emergence Of Spartan Big Man Adreian Payne Makes Michigan State A Scary Team

The Emergence Of Spartan Big Man Adreian Payne Makes Michigan State A Scary Team (Getty Images)

  • Team Outlook: Despite the arrival of a relatively underwhelming freshmen class – neither center Gavin Schilling nor shooting guard Alvin Ellis has the look of a minute-eating freshman, Tom Izzo’s cupboard is fully stocked. The backcourt features the Spartan’s two top scorers from a year ago in Keith Appling (13.4 PPG, 3.3 APG) and Gary Harris (12.9 PPG, 41% 3PT). Both battled nagging injuries throughout last winter, so an offseason of rest and rehabilitation may have been just what the Spartans needed although Harris appears to have suffered a temporary setback with a sprained ankle that will keep him out until at least the start of practice. With another year under their belt and improved health (knock on wood), there should be an expectation of increased, or at least more efficient, contributions from the duo. The third centerpiece of this Spartan club is center Adreian Payne, who broke out in his sophomore season posting season averages of 10.5 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and 1.3 BPG as the big man even showed an unexpectedly refined touch from deep. After only attempting two three-pointers in his first season in East Lansing, Payne went 16-42 from beyond the stripe last season, giving Izzo (and NBA scouts) hope that he might progress even further here in year three. Branden Dawson (8.9 PPG and 5.9 RPG) is the fourth Spartan returning starter, while versatile sophomore Denzel Valentine (5.0 PPG and 4.1 RPG) would seem like the top candidate to occupy the starting slot left open by the departure of Nix, an insertion that would necessitate a slide to the power forward position for Dawson. Sophomore Travis Trice (4.8 PPG, 1.9 APG) should operate as a capable backup for Appling at the point, but Tom Izzo will have decisions to make in rounding out the bench rotation beyond Trice. Matt Costello and Alex Gauna only averaged about six minutes per game each a season ago, but both could be thrust into larger roles this time around. Junior Russell Byrd and the freshman Schilling may also be options for Izzo in his quest to sort out the frontcourt rotation, as he seeks to at least partially replace the physicality and production that Nix brought to the table last season. Payne and Dawson should take care of plenty of that by themselves, and let’s also remember that this is Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans – if you can’t rebound you don’t see the floor, so expect the old coach to find some tough role players somewhere on the roster. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big Ten M5: 11.20.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on November 20th, 2012

  1. The news of the day in Big Ten land was the formal announcement that Maryland would be leaving the ACC and joining the conference for the start of the 2014-15 school year, and that Rutgers was expected to announce a similar move to the Big Ten from the Big East on Tuesday. Such realignment would have a profound impact on the state of basketball in the conference, with the Terrapins known as the perennial No. 3 team in the ACC (Rutgers is a Big East bottom-feeder). Michigan State coach Tom Izzo admitted he enjoys the tradition-rich Big Ten and worries about the increase in travel (New Jersey to Nebraska, anyone?) but says he’s pleased about the proactive approach Jim Delaney and the conference presidents/chancellors have taken during realignment. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said the location of the two schools opens the conference to a new market and a new world of recruiting that can help not only those additional two schools, but also the universities already positioned in the Big Ten.
  2. Here’s an unfamiliar and somewhat odd concept to come out of basketball camp in Lincoln: High expectations. That’s what coach Tim Miles has for center Andre Almeida, who certainly has a physically imposing presence in the post as he clocks in at 6’11”, 310 pounds. As for what Miles expects? “19 and 7,”he said, according to the Lincoln Journal Star. “Realistically, we need somebody to step up, so it might as well be him,” Miles said. “Why not? Seriously, why not? Because he hasn’t done it in the past, right? That’s why not. But why live that self-fulfilling prophecy? Let’s get him the dang ball where he deserves it and see what he can do with it.” Almeida averaged 5.2 PPG and 3.3 RPG last season as a junior, but his 19/7 against Nebraska-Omaha was exactly what Miles hopes to see out of the big man this season.
  3. One of the most concerning aspects for Wisconsin in last week’s blowout loss at Florida was how the Badgers were handled on the defensive end, allowing the Gators to dictate the pace of the game nearly throughout. That was a point of emphasis in the Badgers’ bounce-back win against Cornell, as Wisconsin provided suffocating defense while holding Cornell to 26.2 percent shooting from the field and 13.3 percent from long range. The win not only helped put to bed the Florida loss, but also a previous Cornell upset. In the second round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament, the Big Red shot 61.1 percent overall and 53.3 percent from three to end the Badgers’ season, 87-69.
  4. The absence of true freshmen Peter Jurkin and Hanner Mosquera-Perea was noticeable in Indiana‘s win against Georgia on Monday night in Brooklyn as the Hoosiers found themselves in a bit of early foul trouble before rallying to avoid the upset. But Indiana may not be without the duo as long as originally expected — the NCAA suspended the two for nine games, meaning they wouldn’t be eligible until the December 15 game against Butler, but that suspension could be reduced on Tuesday, ESPN‘s Andy Katz first reported. The two were suspended right before the Hoosiers’ first regular-season game for receiving improper benefits as AAU players for Indiana Elite.
  5. For a cupcake game — a 69-41 win over Texas Southern — there was a bit of drama in Michigan State‘s home opener, concerning both a big man who was on the floor and one who was not. Derrick Nix did not start after opening Michigan State’s first two games, and Matt Costello made his season debut in a bit of a lineup shakeup for Tom Izzo’s group. The freshman had four points and three rebounds in 11 minutes after returning from a tailbone bruise, while fellow big man Alex Gauna got the nod in favor of Nix. Izzo had hinted at the idea earlier in the month that he might like to switch up the starting lineup and a lesser opponent may have given him just the opportunity to do so. He likes to experiment with his rotation early on and whittle it down later into the year, but a deep frontcourt that also includes Adreian Payne and potentially Branden Dawson and Russell Byrd at the four gives Izzo and the Spartans a wealth of options down low.
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Big Ten Edition M5: 11.19.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on November 19th, 2012

  1. Conference realignment is a hot topic again, but this time the focus is squarely on the Big Ten. The conference reportedly is interested in expanding to the east coast markets, specifically targeting Maryland and Rutgers to become a 14-team league. University officials at Maryland may make a decision as early as early this week on whether to apply for admission in the B1G. Maryland will have to pay approximately $50 Million if it chooses to leave the ACC, and if Maryland leaves its conference, it is likely that Rutgers will follow suit from the Big East. From a basketball perspective, the Terps would make an excellent addition to the Big Ten.
  2. ESPN is putting Bobby Knight in some tough situations during this year’s broadcasting schedule. First, he called a Kentucky game, and now he is scheduled to call an Indiana game. Knight will call the IU game against Georgia with Dan Shulman on Monday’s ESPN telecast . It is well settled that Knight has not associated himself with the Hoosiers since he was fired over a decade ago but he will have to cross paths with the university now. The broadcast will likely be oriented around the game as usual and there might not be much else to this event except for Knight being around thousands of vocal Hoosiers fans during the game.
  3. Coming into this season, Illinois head coach John Groce has expressed his concerns about the guard play on the Illini roster. Despite depth at the guard position, he was not sure if there was a true point guard fit to run his up-tempo offense without turning the ball over. After three games, Tracy Abrams is doing a great job at that position but Groce has bigger issues with his big men. The Illini were outrebounded by 20 by Hawaii on the road on Friday night, and it took a buzzer beater by D.J. Richardson to win the game. Nnanna Egwu and Sam McLaurin will continue to be a focal point as opponents will try to dominate the Illini in the paint and this could be a concern for Groce as the season goes on.
  4. Speaking of big men, Michigan State freshman forward Matt Costello played for about 11 minutes against Texas Southern and that was enough to impress coach Tom Izzo. Costello injured his back during an exhibition game and had not seen any playing time until Michigan State’s home opener over the weekend. Freshman guards Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine have already shown their abilities but Costello may provide some valuable minute for Izzo off the bench to complement Derrick Nix. He averaged 25.1 PPG and 19.1 RPG in high school but understands that he needs to be patient throughout this year and hopes to constantly improve his game to earn more minutes on the floor.
  5. Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas is doing everything he promised so far this season. He scored a career high 31 points against Washington as the Buckeyes beat the Huskies 77-66 on Sunday. But Thad Matta knows that his team needs a “third guy” on offense in addition to Thomas and Aaron Craft who can consistently contribute. Lenzelle Smith Jr. was supposed to be that third option but he did not score a single point on Sunday. Matta understands that there will be certain days when Craft or Smith won’t be effective so he needs a couple of the sophomores to step up in order to achieve their long-term goals. Amir Williams and Laquinton Ross may be able to provide that spark over time — Williams is more effective defensively but Ross has the offensive skills to contribute 8-10 PPG for the Buckeyes.
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Big Ten M5: 11.06.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on November 6th, 2012

  1. According to Penn State star Tim Frazier, the Nittany Lions may have something in newcomer D.J. Newbill that the team hasn’t seen in some time — swagger. Frazier, an All-Big Ten player in his own right, has already come away with a strong impression of Newbill, who transferred from Southern Mississippi to Penn State. “He’s just got that Philly swagger in him,” Frazier said at Penn State’s media day on Monday. Second-year coach Pat Chambers echoed Frazier’s thoughts: “I’m going to use a very popular word right now: Swagger,” Chambers said, according to an Associated Press report. “He just has that ‘Philly chip.’ He’s got that toughness. He’s from the streets of Philly. He’s going to grind. He’s never going to give up.” Frazier could use a little help with the scoring load and it looks as if Newbill — who averaged 9.2 PPG and 6.2 RPG in 30 minutes per game as a freshman at Southern Miss two years ago — could be the man for the job.
  2. The Iowa basketball program hasn’t had much success in recent years and, as The Gazette‘s Mike Hlas points out, much of that has to do with the failed tenure of previous head coach Todd Lickliter. But if one good thing did come of those years, it was the recruitment of Devyn Marble, a player who appears poised to lead the Hawkeyes this year as a junior. “When I met him the first time I was really impressed with him,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “So much of being a great player is who you are as much as what you can do.” Of course, this young Marble has plenty of shoes to fill — namely those of his father, Roy, who is Iowa’s all-time leading scorer. Marble may not reach that level of play in his Hawkeye career, but if he can give Iowa what it needs this season — a vocal leader — then the Hawkeyes surely will be better off for it.
  3. In most cases, nobody likes to be called a pest. But sometimes, particularly if you’re playing for Bo Ryan, that can be a term of endearment. Forward Mike Bruesewitz has regularly fulfilled that role for the Badgers, but with the senior forward out 4-6 weeks with a leg injury, Wisconsin needs another player to step up. Enter Zach Bohannon. The scrappy junior guard impressed in the Badgers’ first exhibition, tallying 13 points but his six rebounds (four on the offensive end) may have been what stood out the most. Bohannon isn’t much of a scorer, but if he can scratch and claw his way onto the stat sheet, he could become a valuable player both before and after Bruesewitz returns. “He’s a digger,” Ryan said. “If you get lazy with a rebound, it’s gone around him.”
  4. Michigan State freshmen Matt Costello and Kenny Kaminski are paying tribute this season to their friend Dorian Dawkins, who died on the Michigan State campus three summers ago at the age of 14. From Diamond Leung’s poignant story for, Kaminski wears No. 30 so as to say “3 and nobody else” in honor of Dawkins, who was an AAU teammate of the Spartan duo who also dreamed of one day playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State. Together now, Kaminski and Costello carry memories of Dawkins with them every time they take the floor.
  5. One of the most concerning aspects of Illinois‘ season last year were their inconsistencies, particularly with the knowledge that the Illini had so much potential and squandered it so often. There’s a new regime in Champaign under head coach John Groce, but there are still plenty of lingering concerns. Illinois was admittedly sloppy in an exhibition win against Division II West Chester (PA) on Sunday, and maybe the most troubling aspect were the 21 turnovers (five from senior Brandon Paul) to just seven assists. Paul has the potential to be one of the best players in the Big Ten this season, but brain lapses like those exhibited against West Chester will surely haunt Illinois again this year if not corrected soon.
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