Big Ten Weekly Five: 09.06.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on September 6th, 2012

  1. Coming into this summer, it was widely known that there was going to be some decisions to be made in terms of Indiana’s roster and the number of scholarship spots that would be allotted. It was also pretty widely known that Matt Roth was a likely candidate to be the odd man out. That came to fruition this week when it was learned that Roth’s time with the Hoosiers is over. The writing had been on the wall, though, with Roth already completing his undergraduate work and participating in the Senior Night festivities last season at Assembly Hall. But, as ESPN.com‘s Eamonn Brennan points out, it’s a shame to see a player who started his career at IU when the Hoosiers really needed him have it end when the rebuilding process has finally been completed.
  2. If Nebraska wants to establish its authority in the Big Ten — and in its own state — it will have plenty of opportunities in its sophomore Big Ten season. The Cornhuskers’ schedule poses plenty of challenges this year, including the first five conference games in January – at Ohio State, against Wisconsin, at Michigan, at Michigan State and against Purdue. Not the easiest way to break into Big Ten play. This also comes weeks after the Huskers will host Creighton (and Nebraska-Omaha), in a fight for in-state bragging rights. Creighton has been the superior Nebraska program for years. Will the tide turn under new Huskers coach Tim Miles?
  3. CBSSports.com‘s Jeff Goodman reports that Purdue is alive and well after the departure of poster child Robbie Hummel, thanks in part to a trip overseas for an exhibition set in Italy. Head coach Matt Painter recognizes that nothing is going to come easy for this group — which is suddenly without Hummel, Lewis Jackson, E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, who carried the program back to relevance in recent years — that is certain to have growing pains in the rough-and-tumble Big Ten. “Inexperience and our ability to be good defensively,” Painter said were his biggest concerns after the trip. “We’ve got a long way to go. We’re going to have to be good together.” Purdue lost three of its top four scorers from last season, and lone senior D.J. Byrd is going to have to shoulder a heavy load to keep the Boilermakers near the top of the conference.
  4. Entering his senior season, it was expected that Ohio State’s William Buford would be competing for a spot on the All-Big Ten First Team and perhaps some good standing in the 2012 NBA Draft. Instead, he was inconsistent for the Buckeyes and went undrafted. He will get a chance to play professional ball, though — alongside former Purdue standout Robbie Hummel — in Santiago, Spain. “I thought trying to make it to the NBA this year was kind of a risk,” Buford said during his introductory news conference, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “So I figured why not come to the best league besides the NBA.” It’s probably not the plan Buford envisioned a year or two ago, but with his tools, he can spend a couple years overseas and have a great shot at cracking an NBA roster.
  5. In any successful athletic program, the basketball and football programs have to be able to feed off each other while both maintaining a certain level of consistent excellence. That’s what they’re shooting for at Penn State, where both teams — albeit for different reasons — are undergoing some serious rebuilding. While that’s been going on, basketball coach Patrick Chambers and football coach Bill O’Brien have forged a friendship. Together, as they told David Jones of the Patriot-News, they hope to restore Penn State athletics to a place of high standing. “We’ve become fast friends,” Chambers said. “We’ve got a good relationship and a very trusting relationship.”
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Morning Five: 08.30.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 30th, 2012

  1. Is before college football kicks off too early for the 2012-13 All-America team to come out? Not if you’re the bible of preseason college basketball, the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. Chris Dortch, its longtime editor-in-chief, tweeted out the annual’s five selections for next season’s individual honors. The recipients are Florida State’s Michael Snaer and Louisville’s Peyton Siva at the guard slots, Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Ohio State’s DeShaun Thomas as the forwards, and Indiana’s Cody Zeller at center (the cover featuring all five players is shown here). We’ll break these selections down a little more later today but some notable omissions on the first team are Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan, Michigan’s Trey Burke, UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad, North Carolina’s James McAdoo, and NC State’s CJ Leslie, among many others.
  2. Speaking of college football, tonight represents the start of the gridiron season as we head into Labor Day Weekend. And as everyone reading these words knows, Labor Day Weekend represents the beginning of fall. And fall means Midnight Madness really isn’t very far away — 43 days to be exact. Many schools have had their events scheduled for a while, but Pittsburgh has decided to shake the negativity off of last year’s disappointing season by doing something completely different. The Panthers have not hosted a Madness event since 2003, but to celebrate the school’s 225th anniversary and Homecoming weekend, Pitt is planning on building an outdoor “arena” and holding court under the stars. In the case of rain or a particularly bad cold snap (not unheard of in western Pennsylvania that time of year), the event will move indoors. But given the huge success of last year’s Carrier Classic playing a real game streetball style, we hope that this thing goes off without a hitch. Maybe someday this trend will result in real games hosted from Rucker Park to the Venice Beach asphalt — all the guys who grew up watching the And-1 mix tapes can dream, right?
  3. It’s not very often, well, ever, that we get a tip about something called the “Jewish Dwight Howard.” Yet that very email dropped into our inbox yesterday and, sure enough, Northwestern announced on Wednesday that it was adding a preferred walk-on by the name of Aaron Liberman to its roster. The 6’10″ big man hails from California but spent last year in Israel, and will now join a Wildcat front line that boasts five players 6’8″ or bigger. Despite choosing to walk on for Bill Carmody, he received interest from a number of schools including Boston College, USC, Pepperdine, and Yale. Whatever the case, we can’t wait to see Liberman, replete with his yarmulke on top of his head, enter a game next season. Let’s hope that his college career turns out a little better than Tamir Goodman, the “Jewish Jordan,” did 10 years ago.
  4. While on the subject of big men, we realize that this is not going to be a popular position for many basketball fans, but the Pac-12 Networks announced its hoops schedule of over 150 games next season along with the caveat that Bill Walton will return as a color analyst after two years away from the business. He will also do some Pac-12 games for ESPN from time to time. Love him or hate him, Big Red has a certain giddy excitement and accompanying way with words that is utterly unique to him and him alone, and for that reason, we’re excited to have him back in the fold. Now… about figuring out where on our cable package the P12 Network actually resides…
  5. Indiana’s Tom Crean took a considerable amount of heat earlier this week for his (mis)handling of scholarships that resulted in fifth-year senior Matt Roth losing his scholarship from the school. With a top recruiting class entering Bloomington, Roth ended up as the odd man out heading into next season. But in an interview that Roth gave to Peegs.com earlier this week, Roth quite clearly stated that he had no hard feelings against Crean and had been completely aware dating back to the end of last season that losing his spot was a distinct possibility. While it’s great that Roth feels like he was informed, that doesn’t make Crean’s decision to recruit over him any more tolderable. Yes, college basketball is big business, and yes, players are not guaranteed four-year scholarships… but, does that make it right? Every coach in America gets 13 scholarships to play with — if he can’t win with 12 spots filled with elite talent, he’s not going to win.
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Morning Five: 08.28.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 28th, 2012

  1. Long before Coach K, JJ Redick, Christian Laettner, or Johnny Dawkins, Duke basketball was defined by one name only: Art Heyman. One of only 13 Blue Devils to have his number retired and perhaps more influential in creating Duke basketball than any other single player in its illustrious history, the three-time All-American and 1963 NPOY died yesterday at his home in Florida at the age of 71 years old. Prior to Heyman’s arrival on the Durham campus, Duke had been a plucky third fiddle in the Triangle region to the much more powerful programs down the road in Chapel Hill and Raleigh. Consider this fact: When Heyman arrived at Duke (after the New Yorker reneged on a commitment to UNC, incidentally), the Blue Devils had only been a grand total of two NCAA Tournaments in its history with one Elite Eight appearance to show for it in 1960. Heyman took Vic Bubas’ Blue Devils to its first-ever Final Four during his senior season, setting in motion the blossoming of a legitimate Tobacco Road basketball program over the next half-century that would go on to 32 more NCAA Tournament appearances, 16 more Elite Eights, and 14 more Final Fours (not to mention Coach K’s four national titles). Heyman is one of the all-time ACC greats, bearing the shared distinction of one of only three players in conference history to receive first team all-ACC accolades three years in a row (NC State’s David Thompson and UNC’s Tyler Hansbrough were the others). Anybody who traded punches with Larry Brown is OK in our book, and hopefully Heyman is resting in peace secure in the knowledge of his eternal influence at Duke and in the ACC.
  2. Coming into the season Indiana will be at or near the top of every preseason poll you will see, but one Hoosier who will not be along for the ride is Matt Roth. Who is Matt Roth? That’s a good question, but you will probably hear more about him over the next few days than you did in his previous four years in Bloomington. Roth has been a Hoosier since the 2008-09 season but only completed three seasons of his eligibility after redshirting his sophomore year with a foot injury early that year. Roth was hoping to be a member of a Hoosier team that appears to be a legitimate national title contender next season, but he appears to have been caught in a numbers game as the odd man out with too many players on scholarship. While some may view this as a harsh outcome for a loyal Hoosier, it is worth noting that Roth received a four-year scholarship to Indiana, where picked up both a bachelor’s and master’s degree during his time on campus. Still, the entire situation and the way it went down (Tom Crean basically told him that he could use him as a job reference) might rub some people the wrong way.
  3. While most writers are focused on the hotbeds of the AAU circuit, Jeff Eisenberg has decided to take a look at the other end of the spectrum — Wyoming, the only state in the Lower 48 that does not have an AAU program and all the hardships that players and their families endure trying to earn a Division I scholarship. With no in-state AAU program available, players are forced to travel enormous distances on a regular basis over the summer to try to catch the wandering eyes of recruiters. As Eisenberg notes, all this effort very rarely results in Wyoming players achieving the desired result — a Division I scholarship. With all the money that these families have to spend, you have to wonder if these players might be better off staying at home working on their games and then using that extra money to pay for college if they don’t land that elusive scholarship.
  4. The concept of painting thematic murals onto a school’s basketball court appears to be continuing in earnest, as Long Beach State is the latest school to get in on the act by renovating its home court to look like just another afternoon on the courts down at Venice Beach. Unlike the Oregon tall firs floor — which we still think looks like a toddler upchucked all over the joint — the look at the Walter Pyramid Arena is considerably more subtle, with a couple of iconic palm trees painted on each side of the court. Truthfully, reaction to this new look has been mixed, but we don’t mind it — the colors and images seem to fit the floor without dominating it, and The Beach is the sort of irreverent place where an alternative-look like this works well.
  5. As most high school seniors around the country have already returned to school or are about to do so, the top recruits in the Class of 2013 are starting to narrow down their options. One of the top five players in the class, Julius Randle, announced his list of final 10 schools on Twitter yesterday: Texas, Kansas, Baylor, North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, NC State, Florida, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The heavy Big 12 influence is no doubt a product of his location in the Dallas area, as five of those schools along with the usual national recruiting suspects show up on his list. With Jabari Parker also having narrowed his list to 10 schools and the Harrison twins setting a date for their announcement in late October, Jeff Borzello says that this year’s group is only now starting to come into focus.
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Big Ten Weekly Five: 05.09.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on May 9th, 2012

  1. Plenty of Big Ten programs have undergone change in the last few months, and that includes Tubby Smith’s program at Minnesota. The most important news is that Trevor Mbakwe will return for another season, giving the Gophers a shot at finishing near the top of the conference standings next season. They’ll return some good young talent, and with a new athletic director at the helm, this group could finally be ready for a break-through. Amelia Rayno helps to catch us up.
  2. Indiana is such a hot spot now that it’s become a game of musical chairs to find open scholarships. Matt Roth seems to be the odd man out at the moment, though he still remains hopeful that something will open up for his fifth season with the Hoosiers. As Terry Hutchens points out, Roth is eligible for another season as a medical redshirt, but a scholarship would have to become available on a roster that is already over-committed by one player. His other option is to walk on and pay out-of-state tuition.
  3. It looks like Michigan State‘s modus operandi of scheduling some of the top non-conference opponents in the country will continue yet again for Tom Izzo’s group. It was announced recently that the Spartans will host Texas at Breslin Center this upcoming season.  The Spartans, who have played Rick Barnes’ team semi-regularly over the last decade or so, already also have Kansas on the schedule as part of the Champions Classic in Atlanta on November 13.
  4. There’s no area more important to Illinois recruiting than Chicago, so there may not be an assistant coach more valuable to John Groce’s staff than Isaac Chew. Per this Chicago Tribune story, Chew has become Groce’s go-to man in the Windy City. The Chicago native has quickly risen through the ranks at Murray State and Missouri, and now has the opportunity to make his mark — and help Groce do so, as well — in Champaign.
  5. Wisconsin and coach Bo Ryan received some unwanted attention this spring with the news surrounding Jarrod Uthoff and his desire to transfer elsewhere. The issue was finally resolved, but not until after the program’s image took a significant public relations hit. The Journal Sentinel‘s Jeff Potrykus recognizes that fact, but still believes Ryan and the program can recover quickly from the incident.
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RTC 2012-13 Top 25: Post NBA Draft Deadline

Posted by KDoyle on May 1st, 2012

It’s never too early for these, right? We all love the debates, projecting who is too high or too low, and taking a closer look at the upcoming college hoops season — six months goes by quickly, promise. In quickly looking at the Top 25, one would surmise that having five of a team’s top players forgo the remainder of their college careers in favor of the NBA Draft would absolutely kill that team’s prospects for the upcoming season, but that is simply not the case for Kentucky. Last year’s National Champions check in at #2 in the Top 25, proving that John Calipari doesn’t rebuild, he reloads. It would not behoove us to let Kentucky steal the storyline, however, as Tom Crean’s Indiana Hoosiers are the top dog in what looks to be a banner upcoming year. In what was arguably the most exciting and high-flying game of last year’s Tournament, the Hoosiers fell to Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen, but have nearly all the pieces back. Just two years ago this was a 12-20 team with no postseason experience, and now they are the top team in the land — according to our group of experts, at least. What a tremendous job Tom Crean has done. The usual Quick ‘n Dirty after the jump…

Whether it is through an exceptional recruiting class, or an impressive finish to the 2011-12 season coupled with a strong nucleus returning, the following five teams surged upward—and for good reason:

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Checking In On… the Big Ten Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 28th, 2012

Bill Hupp is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference. Follow him on Twitter at @Bill_Hupp for his thoughts on hoops, food, box fans and life.

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was:

  • Spartan Success: Despite losing guys like Korie Lucious, Kalin Lucas and Delvon Roe, the Michigan State express rolled on. Perhaps no other coach in the country teaches a system and its principles quite like Tom Izzo. Surprise losses on Sunday by both Ohio State and Michigan, however, meant that MSU’s weekend destruction of Nebraska clinched them of the at least a share of the Big Ten title. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
  • Chicago (Evanston) Hope: That wind you felt coming from Chicago might have been a collective sigh of relief from Northwestern fans after senior leader John Shurna sank two free throws with mere seconds to play to help the Wildcats escape Happy Valley with a 67-66 win. Two straight gut-wrenching losses in one week might have been more than Northwestern could have overcome as they sweat out life on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
  • Lousy in Lincoln: It’s no secret that Nebraska has struggled on offense this year. But not since 1961 has Nebraska been so putrid on offense as they were when they were embarrassed by Michigan State, 61-34, at home over the weekend. The Huskers shot under 30% for the game and the loss of leading scorer Bo Spencer to an injured ankle near halftime only hampered their scoring efforts.

The Perennial Lesson In College Basketball 101 Is To Never Count Out The Michigan State Spartans.

Power Rankings

  1. Michigan State (24-5, 13-3) – As good as Michigan State has been this season, how would the Spartans be if Delvon Roe hadn’t been forced to drop basketball due to chronic knee problems? Roe’s presence would have given them more depth and would have taken the load off of Draymond Green at certain points. But it also forced youngsters like Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne to grow up quickly. While they’ve struggled with consistency, those guys are a big part of why the Spartans are Big Ten champs.
  2. Ohio State (23-6, 11-5) – Strange times in Columbus. After riding a 39-game winning streak and destroying most visitors who dared enter Value City Arena, the Buckeyes have now lost two of their last three games at home. Jared Sullinger has seemingly disappeared in big games and crucial moments this season. Read the rest of this entry »
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Tracking The Four: Scouting Reports

Posted by EJacoby on January 27th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is an RTC contributor & correspondent. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. TT4 will cover four selected teams of interest – Syracuse, Indiana, Murray State, and UNLV – by tracking their ups, downs, and exciting developments throughout the course of the season.

You know each of our four team’s records, you can see where they’re ranked relative to other teams, and their advanced statistical breakdowns are easily accessible on sites like StatSheet and KenPom. But what about how they actually look in person? If you haven’t watched these teams play multiple times this season, we have the quick-hitting analysis of their strengths and weaknesses. This week’s TT4 Wildcard gives a scouting report for each team, which is a useful way to compare and contrast teams and also look at how they perform in future games relative to their expected tendencies. Feel free to chime in if you think we missed on something!

A Dynamic Offensive Attack has Led to Indiana's Success (AP Photo)

Indiana Hoosiers

Strengths:

  • They space the floor very well offensively, capable of attacking from a variety of angles… Capable of running offense inside-out through Cody Zeller, or outside-in by swinging the ball around the perimeter amongst a number of dangerous scorers.
  • Great perimeter shooting… They take good shots, which leads to a high three-point percentage… Jordan Hulls and Matt Roth have unlimited range on their shots… Christian Watford excels in the mid-range.
  • Cohesive unit that has started the same five players in every game… Starters and reserves both know their roles.

Weaknesses:

  • Poor perimeter defense, often leaving opposing guards without much ball pressure… Allow opponents to run offense comfortably.
  • Lack depth in the frontcourt, putting themselves in a bad position if Zeller is fatigued or in foul trouble.
  • No true point guard on the roster has led to struggles penetrating offensively… Poor assist percentage for such a high-scoring offense.

Overview: A dynamic offensive team that thrives during up-tempo games, enabling them to consistently space the floor and hit open shots… Struggle defensively in the half court with physical teams, and can get in trouble when Zeller or Watford get in foul trouble… Very streaky performance has led to extended runs and deficits during games… Improving defensive team but continue to have trouble getting stops in conference play.

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Tracking The Four: And Then There Were Two (Unbeatens)

Posted by EJacoby on January 17th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is an RTC contributor & correspondent. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. TT4 will cover four selected teams of interest – Syracuse, Indiana, Murray State, and UNLV – by tracking their ups, downs, and exciting developments throughout the course of the season.

In this second full edition of TT4, two of our teams have taken a step backward while the other two continue to roll along as the only unbeaten teams remaining in the country. Do Murray State and Syracuse both have a good chance to go undefeated in the regular season? All four of our teams remain ranked in the Top 20 of the major polls. Let’s take a look at the juxtaposition between the two pairs of teams that are making headlines for different reasons:

Murray State Racers

Isaiah Canaan and Donte Poole are Running Full Speed Ahead for Undefeated Murray State (AP Photo/L. Dennee)

  • Trending UP Because… – They’re still without injured starting forward Ivan Aska, who has a broken hand, and the Racers continue to take care of business. MSU (18-0, 6-0 Ohio Valley) remained undefeated after knocking off Jacksonville State and Tennessee Tech at home over the past week. The Racers’ unbeaten start extends the school record to open a season, and improving to 18-0 also set the school record for longest win streak overall at any point.
  • This Week’s Key CogDonte Poole. The senior guard has been the perfect complement to Isaiah Canaan all season, but it was Poole who did the heavy lifting this week. He averaged 24.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.5 steals in two games last week, including a career-high 28 points versus Tennessee Tech, to propel his team to those victories. The prolific three-point shooter was more aggressive attacking the basket, getting to the line a total of 23 times in the two games, converting 21 of those shots.
  • Play of the Week – Twenty-five seconds into this video clip, watch star guard Canaan split defenders on a high pick-and-roll before a crafty finish at the rim. The announcer pronounces his name wrong, so just let the highlight do the talking.
  • Talking PointSteve Prohm on improving to 18-0 despite missing their best forward: “Credit our guys’ resiliency. We’re having to play a lot of different ways and we’re just trying to figure things out and they’re doing things on the fly and making adjustments and I couldn’t be prouder of them.
  • Best Read - ESPN’s Dana O’Neil sat down with coach Steve Prohm for an interview Tuesday that discussed how the first-year coach has dealt with success, amongst other issues.
  • Stats Central – According to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers, the only currently ranked teams that played a more challenging non-conference schedule than Murray State were Duke, Kansas, and Gonzaga. The Racers were actually picked to finish third this season in the OVC by conference coaches in the preseason poll, behind Austin Peay and Tennessee Tech. Those two teams now don’t have as many wins combined (17) as the Racers currently do on the season.
  • What’s Next? – MSU has two road games this week against conference foes dreaming of ending a perfect season. First is a test at Morehead State on Wednesday (7:00 PM ET) against the defending champions of the OVC. Morehead, 3-3 in conference play thus far, is a tough team whose five best players are all upperclassmen. The Racers then head to play at SIU-Edwardsville against a Cougars team that is also 3-3 in conference. Murray will look to continue their undefeated streak again without their best big man as Aska has been ruled out for these games.

Syracuse Orange

  • Trending EVEN Because… – Already at the top of nearly every poll and rating, there’s not much higher to go. Syracuse remained undefeated and improved to 20-0 (7-0 Big East) after beating the three teams at the bottom of the Big East conference last week. The Orange handled their toughest task at Villanova last Wednesday without a problem, and it’s been weeks since SU played a game in which the outcome was ever in doubt after the first 10 minutes. Fast starts are becoming a staple of this team, and it holds leads easily with the most talented bench in the nation. Jim Boeheim’s team is beating Big East opponents by an average of 15.7 points per game, although five of their seven games have come against the bottom four teams in the conference.
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Night Line: Indiana’s Weak Defense Can’t Make Up for Poor Shooting Performances

Posted by EJacoby on January 13th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is an RTC columnist and contributor. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. Night Line will run on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s slate of games.

With a huge game upcoming this weekend at Ohio State, it appears as if No. 6 Indiana overlooked its opponent on Thursday night. The Hoosiers were defeated at home, 77-74, by Minnesota, a team that was previously winless in the Big Ten (0-4) and in true road games (0-2). Indiana had its worst offensive performance of the season, and the Hoosiers do not have an efficient enough defense that can make up for a poor offensive outing. They allow nearly 77 points per game against conference opponents, which is far too much to be a serious contender. IU has been able to cover up its mediocre defense this season with tremendous shooting, but their defensive woes finally caught up to them and led to Thursday night’s upset.

Indiana Allowed Too Many Easy Buckets vs. Minnesota (AP Photo/D. Cummings)

Indiana (15-2, 3-2 Big Ten) has been the nation’s darling this year and has put together some incredible offensive performances, especially at home. Tom Crean’s team, ranked third in the nation with a 1.18 points per possession average, has already beaten a #1 and #2 team (Kentucky and Ohio State) on its home floor this season. That’s why it was so surprising that Indiana, in front of another raucous Bloomington crowd, went ice cold on Thursday night and fell to a seemingly inferior opponent. Christian Watford came in averaging 13.5 points per game but scored only six in the game. Jordan Hulls came in shooting 58% from three on the year and went 1-5 tonight. Verdell Jones III averages about nine points and four assists, but went scoreless tonight with just one dime. While every team is capable of a stinker or two during the season, it’s still alarming that the Hoosiers could not win at home against a team at the bottom of the conference. They gave up way too many open looks to their opponent and allowed Minnesota to run its offense comfortably on the road, which is not a formula for success in the tough Big Ten Conference.

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Checking In On… The Big Ten Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 10th, 2012

Bill Hupp is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference. Follow him on Twitter @Bill_Hupp for his thoughts on hoops, food, Russian nesting dolls and life.

Reader’s Take 

 

The Week That Was:

  • OT Madness in Madison: It was just one of the most unusual endings to a basketball game in recent memory. Ryan Evans banked home a turn-around desperation heave from the right wing as time expired, and many thought the Michigan StateWisconsin game in Madison was heading to a second overtime tied at 63. It was waved off, however, after officials discovered the there was a 0.2-second disparity between the game clock on the basket and the one on the scoreboard. By rule, the officials used the clock on the basket, which expired with the ball in Evans’ fingertips. (The must-see full video is after the jump). Ball game over as Wisconsin’s woes continued under truly bizarre circumstances.
  • Bertrand to the Rescue: A subtle, underrated move by Illini coach Bruce Weber has Illinois at 3-1 and currently tied for second in the conference. Looking to shake up his lackluster team, Weber gave little-used sophomore wing Joseph Bertrand more minutes against Missouri. Bertrand responded by going 9-9 from the field for 19 points. In the last five games, Bertrand has averaged 15 points and 3.2 rebounds in 29.2 minutes, and has even started the past two. He poured in a career-high 25 points on 11-12 shooting to help the Illini survive Nebraska at home.
  • Road Warriors: First, Iowa took down Wisconsin at the Kohl Center. As a follow-up act, the Hawkeyes went up to The Barn this week and knocked off Minnesota. That’s no small feat for team who was blown out by Campbell earlier this season and whose leading scorer in conference play is 28th in scoring (Matt Gatens at 10.5 PPG). It’s doubtful Fran McCaffrey’s bunch will finish conference play with even a .500 record, but they have proven they can make shots and win on the road.

Who Will Stop Draymond Green And Michigan State? (Al Goldis/AP)

Power Rankings

  1. Ohio State (15-2, 3-1) – When you consider that Ohio State plays in the nation’s top-ranked conference (according to the RPI), it’s pretty insane that the Buckeyes have won three of their Big Ten games by an average of 31 points. They aren’t just beating lesser opponents; they are destroying them. It’s a clear indication of why the Buckeyes are considered by many the class of the conference and one of the favorites to win it all in New Orleans. Another reason is that OSU is ranked in the top 3 in 16 of the Big 10′s 21 statistical categories. Read the rest of this entry »
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Tracking The Four: Conference Play Begins

Posted by EJacoby on January 10th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is an RTC columnist and contributor. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. TT4 will cover four selected teams of interest – Syracuse, Indiana, Murray State, and UNLV – by tracking their ups, downs, and exciting developments throughout the course of the season.

Welcome to Tracking The Four! This new series reads just like it sounds, as we will be following four buzz-worthy teams across the country. Those lucky teams are Syracuse (current #1 team and a title favorite), Indiana (a feel-good contender), Murray State (undefeated dreams), and UNLV (the best of the West). With TT4, we hope to provide readers with interesting insights about each of the featured teams that helps capture the atmosphere of the programs throughout the rest of the season. Look for a full TT4 piece every Tuesday, as well as a shorter update later in the week. Each post will be loaded with highlights, lowlights, and tidbits about each team, as well as recaps from their recent play and a look ahead at their upcoming games. Conference play is well underway and there’s plenty of news to get to this week:

Kris Joseph & Syracuse are All Smiles Right Now (Getty Images/A. Lyons)

Syracuse Orange

  • Trending UP Because… – They’re looking like national title favorites. The undefeated Orange (17-0, 4-0 Big East) remain number one in every national poll, including the RTC Top 25, with its consistently dominant play. They’ve beaten their four conference opponents by an average of 16.5 points, which includes two road games and two home games against ranked teams (Seton Hall & Marquette). Seton Hall has proven to be a solid and cohesive offensive team, yet the Pirates were blown out of the gym by Syracuse in a 75-49 thrashing. The Orange are the deepest team in the country with 10 meaningful contributors, and their patented 2-3 zone is as strong as ever. Jim Boeheim‘s team is now making bigger headlines on the court than off it (the Bernie Fine sexual harassment allegation was a big story), a refreshing trend for the sake of all its fans.
  • This Week’s Key CogBrandon Triche. The junior guard led the team in scoring last week, going for 16 points at Providence on Wednesday and another 16 at home against Marquette on Saturday. He hit four three-pointers in each game with an impressive line of 16/7/4 assts and two steals in the victory over Marquette.
  • Play of the Week - Point guard Scoop Jardine finds his go-to guy Kris Joseph in transition for a thunderous dunk from several feet away from the basket against Providence.
  • Talking Point - Guard Dion Waiters, who comes off the bench, had this to say after the win over Providence: “I’ve never been on a team with subs like this. It’s crazy. We continue to get better and make each other better in practice every day. We’ve got some of the best guards in the country.’’
  • Stats Central – Syracuse leads the nation with 37.5 points per game from its bench, further proving that they’re the deepest team in America. Also, their zone defense has been truly elite this season, as the Orange lead the country in steals (10.9 per game), are third in blocks (7.4 per game), and fifth in forcing turnovers (18.7 per game).
  • What’s Next? – The Orange play at Villanova on Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia (7:00 PM ET, ESPN2) against a struggling Wildcats team, but it’s still a rivalry game in which the Villanova crowd should be fired up and looking for the upset. Then, Cuse gets its second matchup with Providence, this time at home on Saturday (6:00 PM ET) as heavy favorites.
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Checking in on the… Big Ten

Posted by rtmsf on February 11th, 2009

Josh & Mike of Big Ten Geeks are the RTC correspondents for the Big Ten Conference.

Looking Back

Amazing what can change in a week.  Just a week ago, we were detailing how Michigan State’s armor was beginning to crack, and how Purdue seemed poised to jump through that door of opportunity.  Consider that door to be nearly closed.  Purdue has since lost two games in the interim, including an 18 point pounding in Champaign.  Meanwhile, the Spartans were inflicting some pain of their own with a pair of 25+ point wins over Minnesota and Indiana.  By efficiency margin, Michigan State has pulled away from the rest of the conference, and is actually starting to look like a Final Four contender.  But they still have two showdowns against the Boilers to get through (the first coming after a week off after last night’s matchup against Michigan).

The other team of the week is Wisconsin, who won at Penn State and against Illinois at home to pull themselves out of the basement in the Big Ten.  They’re not quite to .500 yet in conference play, but this is a better team than their record.  Keep in mind, they still have two games against Indiana left on the schedule.

Oh yeah, speaking of those Hoosiers, they finally got their first win in the Big Ten!  So it looks like Northwestern won’t be getting any company in the record books this season.

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