Josh & Mike at Big Ten Geeks are the RTC correspondents for the Big Ten Conference.
The team that’s made the most noise in the Big Ten so far this season is Michigan. The Wolverines defeated UCLA 55-52 on their way to the Coaches vs. Cancer final, where Duke ran away in the second half. But it’s a long season, and we still can’t really say if Michigan is that good, or if UCLA is just that bad (probably a bit of both). What is encouraging, however, was the turnover situation for Beilein’s crew. The Wolverines have been forcing TOs while taking care of the ball on their end of the floor in this early part of the season, and what’s more, that trend continued against Duke, which is a difficult thing to do (last year, Duke was among the nation’s elite with respect to TOs on both sides of the ball). This was a staple of Beilein-ball when he was at West Virginia, so it’s more evidence that the players are adjusting to his system.
Oh, and Manny Harris has been unstoppable. He’s been taking about 29% of Michigan’s shots so far this season, and despite that high shot diet, he has maintained a superb efficiency (96 points on 49 shots). He’s also been rebounding like a SF and dishing assists like Mike Conley. He can’t, of course, keep this up. But the Big Ten is on notice – Manny is now MANNY.
Wisconsin has had a rough go of it early in the season. While they haven’t lost, they struggled more than they should have against Long Beach State, and Iona took them to overtime. There hasn’t been a glaring root cause, so this is probably not something to get too worked up over, but this is probably not a 30-win team.
Purdue and Michigan State have coasted in their early season schedules, but things will get more interesting soon.
Illinois posted a road win against Vanderbilt, and while the Commodores likely aren’t an NCAA team, the Illini weren’t exactly flush with road wins last season. One number that has been of great comfort to Illini fans is the 77% free throw shooting so far this season.