Big Ten M5: 12.31.13 Edition

Posted by Alex Moscoso on December 31st, 2013

morning5_bigten

  1. Happy New Year’s Eve! A new year means new beginnings and a chance to possibly start over. So maybe not coincidentally, this is also transfer season in college basketball. A time of year where players all around the country have decided that their current program is no longer the place for them and need a fresh start. It only took one semester at Indiana for Luke Fischer to decide he needed to seek another opportunity and subsequently announced that he was transferring. Unlike his fellow freshmen teammates, Noah Vonleh and Troy Williams, Fischer was not able to contribute significantly mostly due to a shoulder injury. He just started to work his way into the rotation but apparently it was not enough for him to stay. Fischer was a Top 100 recruit and while his departure shouldn’t affect the Hoosiers drastically this year, Tom Crean loses a potentially effective player in the future.
  2. After their impressive win against Missouri, Illinois is in position to challenge, once again, for an NCAA Tournament bid. If they do so, it would be an impressive feat since this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for John Groce after losing his two top scorers from last season. A major reason the Illini have been able to stay competitive is due to the emergence of transfer Rayvonte Rice, who won his second Big Ten Player of the Week honor on Monday. Rice is no Brandon Paul when it comes to upside potential, but his stats certainly look similar after half a season — last season, Paul  averaged 16.6 PPG,4.4 RPG, & 2.7 APG, while Rice has averaged 18.2 PPG, 5.5 RPG, & 1.9 APG thus far this season.
  3. Along with Rice, Michigan State’s Keith Appling also won Big Ten Player of the Week. This is his first such honor of the season and the fourth in his career. Though he won the award for last week’s performance, where he scored 27 points, dished out 8 assists, and grabbed 5 rebounds against New Orleans, his production has been outstanding throughout the entire season. Thus far, Appling is averaging a career high in points and assists. As Michigan State prepares to enter conference play and battle for sole ownership of a league title, they’ll need not only Appling, but Adreian Payne and Gary Harris, to keep performing at their current All American levels.
  4. Wisconsin has been the most impressive Big Ten team in the early part of the season. Not only are four of their five starters effective scorers, but their bench can score as well. We have seen the likes of Duje Dukan and Bronson Koenig already contribute, and you can add freshman Nigel Hayes into the mix as well. The 6’7″ big man from Toledo won Freshman of the Week honors off his 10 points, 4 rebounds, and three blocks performance against Prairie View A&M. Hayes has jumped ahead of Evan Anderson and Zach Bohannon as the first big off the bench when Frank Kaminsky or Sam Dekker need to be spelled. Hayes is an important part of the Badger’s tremendous success early this season and he will continue the winning tradition in Madison for years to come.
  5. Conference play starts today! And it starts early in the day (1 pm ET) when the undefeated Buckeyes come to West Lafayette and face struggling Purdue. While the Boilermakers have had disheartening defeats (and some disheartening wins against inferior teams), they have recently racked up some face-saving wins against Boston College and West Virginia. Both of those teams have had disappointing seasons as well, and they won’t impress anyone come Selection Sunday. But losing to them would have caused the bottom to fall out on Purdue’s season. In the first game of Big Ten play, Purdue needs to show that they can at least put up a fight against the Buckeyes — a team vying for a league title — to show their fans they will be able to compete during all of conference play.
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Examining Big Ten Non-Conference Strength of Schedules

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on December 21st, 2013

With opinions forming on various teams’ chances at winning a Big Ten title and advancing deep into March, it seemed like a good time to take a harder look at the league’s overall non-conference strength of schedule. With just over a week to go until the conference season opens up on New Year’s Eve, and some big games upcoming for B1G teams this weekend on slate (Michigan State at Texas, Notre Dame at Ohio State, Illinois at Missouri, Stanford at Michigan, and Purdue at West Virginia), now is as good a time as any. At this point, non-conference strength of schedule is relatively settled and we can begin to examine if a team’s current record is symptomatic of a particularly weak or strong slate.

Big Ten NCSOS

Above you can see the RPI-based strength of schedule rankings for Big Ten teams from both CBSSports and ESPN. It should be noted almost every site has some differences in RPI rankings right now, but as much as we all might hate that it matters for NCAA Tournament purposes, that’s the reality we have to consider. Here are a few notes from an examination of the rankings.

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Big Ten M5: 12.17.13 Edition

Posted by Alex Moscoso on December 17th, 2013

morning5_bigten

Author’s update: In an earlier version of this M5, I stated that Andre and Austin Hollins were brothers. This was incorrect and they are not related. This post has been revised to correct this error.

  1. Ohio State’s senior point guard Aaron Craft has had a heralded career in Columbus. On Saturday, he put his name in the record books by becoming the school’s all-time assist leader with number 581 against North Dakota State. While Craft’s defensive prowess and leadership have been an integral part of the Buckeyes’ success the last four years, his offensive shortcomings have been a consistent knock. And though he is still averaging less than 10.0 PPG, his win-share per 40 minutes is higher this season than it’s ever been (.226). The senior point guard may never be the offensive star some hoped that he’d grow into, but his contribution and place in history regarding the Buckeyes’ program are already cemented.
  2. When we’re talking about a Hollins going off for Minnesota, we’re almost always talking about Andre. But Austin Hollins likes to remind us every now and then that not only is he the second best player for the Gophers, but he can also go off and drop 20 points in a game. Last week, Austin Hollins scored 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to record his third double-double and surpass 1,000 career points for his career. To top it off, he was named the Big Ten Player of the Week for the first time, an award that Andre hasn’t yet won this season. While it’s clear Andre is the more talented Hollins, it is nice to see Austin get his due too.
  3. The season has been a disappointing one thus far for Purdue, as the Boilermakers were expecting/hoping that the Johnson brothers and A.J. Hammons would be able to show enough leadership to take them back to the NCAA Tournament. While Hammons has not made the “sophomore leap” coach Matt Painter was hoping for, one bright spot may be the emergence of freshman guard Bryson Scott. The young player is one of only three on the team currently averaging double-figure points per game (Terone and Ronnie Johnson are the other two). On Monday, he was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the second time this season, coming off an impressive performance (15 points, 6-of-9 FG) against Butler. While Purdue seems likely to miss the NCAA Tournament this season unless things change in a hurry, there still may be some excitement in West Lafayette as Scott challenges in-state rival Noah Vonleh for Big Ten FrOY.
  4. When the AP poll came out on Monday, Wisconsin found itself again at the #4 spot. It has been a spectacular start for the Badgers as they are 12-0 with signature wins against St. John’s, Florida, Virginia and Marquette. They are already an astonishing 9-0 against the RPI Top 100 and are projected to be a #2 seed according to Lunardi’s most recent bracketology. According to ESPN’s replication RPI index, it is the best start for the Badgers in the modern era. If Bo Ryan can keep it going, and there’s every reason to believe he could, he may have his first 30-win and Big Ten championship team since 2008.
  5. Greg Whittington was dismissed from Georgetown earlier this season while still healing from a knee injury, after the talented sophomore had missed all of last season due to academic issues. On Sunday, he announced that he would be transferring to Rutgers, which will be part of the Big Ten by the time he suits up next season. The 6’8″ forward is described as a “difference-maker” who averaged 12.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game before he was suspended in 2012-13. Not many people are excited about having Rutgers basketball join the Big Ten fray, but Whittington now gives the Scarlet Knights a talented player who will at least keep them intrigued.
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Indiana and Purdue Both Face Questions Following Crossroads Classic

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on December 16th, 2013

It wasn’t a good day for the Big Ten contingent at the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis on Saturday. Indiana and Purdue both lost games they really needed to win, and now find themselves still without a marquee win on their NCAA resumes. The losses also gave Indiana (1-2 in Crossroads Classic history) and Purdue (0-3) losing records versus their in-state brethren Notre Dame (2-1) and Butler (3-0) in the event. So maybe the B1G schools don’t actually rule the state after all. Here are three keys from each of Saturday’s games and some questions facing the Hoosiers and Boilermakers following each.

Notre Dame 79, Indiana 72

Indiana's Will Sheehey battles with Notre Dame's Jerian Grant for a ball in the Crossroads Classic. Indiana faces plenty of questions following the loss to the Irish (AP Photo/Michael Conroy).

Indiana’s Will Sheehey battles with Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant for a ball in the Crossroads Classic. Indiana faces plenty of questions following the loss to the Irish (AP Photo/Michael Conroy).

  • Physicality Inside. Everyone thought it would be the Notre Dame guards who could lead the Irish to an upset victory, but everyone was pretty much wrong. Jerian Grant had a very good game (23 points), but it was the Irish’s inside play of Garrick Sherman (16/6) and bench players Tom Knight (yes, he still plays basketball) and Zach Auguste that killed Indiana inside. These players routinely went right at Vonleh and the other Hoosiers and just outmuscled them in the paint. The Hoosier freshman is very athletic and talented but he had no answer when they backed him down. This is an issue that could rear its head often for this team during Big Ten play if Vonleh doesn’t toughen up or the Hoosiers don’t find someone to match up defensively with the strong inside players in the conference.
  • Go-to Scorer. Indiana never took the lead in this game despite coming close over and over again. The Hoosiers would pull within a few points or tie the game and could never quite get over the hump. Each time, Indiana either froze on assessing its options or the leaders who tried to take charge didn’t come through. Examples included Will Sheehey quickly pulling up for a three-pointer and missing, or Yogi Ferrell taking an isolation drive that was rejected. These two or someone else needs to emerge for Indiana to close out games like these in the future. Read the rest of this entry »
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Previewing the Crossroads Classic

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on December 14th, 2013

In a state that considers itself the mecca for hoops, Indiana’s premiere college basketball programs are set to play in the Crossroads Classic’s third edition later today. In the past two years the event has brought buzzer-beaters and an upset over a No. 1 team, but this season, all four teams desperately need a win here to help their future NCAA hopes. It’s a day for state supremacy and bragging rights at Bankers Life Fieldhouse — on a Saturday afternoon of great basketball around the country, the Crossroads Classic is unlikely to disappoint. Below you will find three keys to both games for Indiana and Purdue to notch wins in this afternoon’s event.

The Crossroads Classic

The Crossroads Classic is Becoming a Hoosier State Tradition

Notre Dame vs. Indiana 3:15 PM, ESPN

  • Take care of the ball. The Irish are the more experienced team taking on the relatively young Hoosiers. This becomes especially important in the backcourt where Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell faces Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins. These two take care of and share the ball extremely well (Notre Dame is third in the country in assists per game). Ferrell will need to match their composure and not make mistakes if Indiana hopes to walk away with the victory here.
  • Use its athleticism. Indiana struggled against Syracuse’s zone with all of its tall, athletic and physical players. Notre Dame at least has the tall and physical part going for it. This means that the Hoosiers will need to use their athleticism to get out and run. If Indiana can turn this into a track meet game, it has a better chance of winning the contest where its athleticism can outmatch Notre Dame’s experience. This also helps alleviate the Irish having a strong starting five versus Indiana typically having to rely on a couple players to explode (read: Noah Vonleh, Jeremy Hollowell, Ferrell).

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After a Quiet Week On College Hardwood, Weekend Action Set to Heat Things Up

Posted by Bennet Hayes on December 14th, 2013

The end of the winter exam period could not come soon enough for college basketball fans. Yes, we know that it’s important for the kids to take care of their academics, but even the most fervent of followers would have to admit they could only take so many more nights of Bryant being featured in the headline contest of the evening. Nothing against the Bulldogs and their tidy 6-5 start, but this weekend’s spate of entertaining match-ups should help us all regain a little sanity Last night’s Hawkeye State battle served as a worthy appetizer for Saturday’s feast of action, but before you grab the remote and plop down in the front row seat in your living room, check out these four storylines to monitor on Saturday.

Arizona Takes Its #1 Ranking to Ann Arbor Today

Arizona Takes Its #1 Ranking to Ann Arbor Today

Chances For Validation, Redemption In Ann Arbor

It may be hard to believe now, but public perception of Arizona and Michigan was pretty comparable at the start of the year. Needless to say, that is no longer the case. The Wildcats, now also known as the #1 team in the land, get a shot at validating that ranking when they visit Ann Arbor today (12:00 EST, CBS), while the floundering Wolverines will seek to redirect the trajectory of their season. Wins over the #1 team in the country have a way of curing a lot of ills, but it will take a yet-to-be-seen vigor for Michigan to earn that antidote, even on their home floor. Mitch McGary and Jordan Morgan will clash with Aaron Gordon and the rest of that vaunted Arizona front line down low, but keep an eye on the battle of the Ni(c)ks. We saw against Duke how crippling a subpar night from Nik Stauskas can be for the Wolverines; if Nick Johnson’s rep as one of the best stoppers out West carries weight in Ann Arbor, Michigan may again find themselves searching for other scoring outlets. For Michigan, Saturday is an opportunity to prove that the Wolverines still might be who we thought they were; for the Cats, it’s another chance to show us that they are exactly who we think they are.

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Ranking the Big Ten Coaching Positions

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on December 13th, 2013

In the always debatable world of athletics and rankings, a recent post from Will Leitch at Sports on Earth discussed the top college basketball coaching jobs. The column included quite a few Big Ten programs, with five among the top 25 and two in the “just missing the cut” line. This prompted the obvious follow-up question of how would we rate the 12 coaching positions in the Big Ten. Remember that we aren’t just talking about the history and quality of the programs (measured in national titles and draft picks), but the coaching position itself. There is a difference. For this analysis, we examined each program’s history and recent success, its facilities, commitment to basketball, recruiting ease, coaching salary (where available, as Northwestern and Penn State do not report salaries), the normal pressure of the position, fan support, location, academics and more. All in all, it’s a lot to take in, but if all coaching positions in the conference came open tomorrow, what would be the most appealing spots for prospective coaches to move in and take over? Feel free to tell us how we are wrong.

Tom Crean sits in the top coaching position in the Big Ten (AP).

Tom Crean sits in the top coaching position in the Big Ten (AP).

  1. Indiana. The “blue blood” of Big Ten basketball has quite the history in terms of conference championships, Final Fours and national titles. It has tremendous support within the Hoosier State and sits in arguably the biggest recruiting hotbed of the nation. Assembly Hall is an historic venue and its lack of modern conveniences will recede as a critique as the Hoosiers look to start a renovation campaign soon. Tom Crean also earns plenty in salary, ranking second in the conference only behind Tom Izzo. A small drawback may be the pressure of the position, as some fans are already starting to question Tom Crean’s likelihood of bringing a national title to Bloomington. Still, it’s the top job in the Big Ten.
  2. Michigan State. Izzo gets paid the most of any coach in the Big Ten and his big competitor in the state is a football school at Michigan. He may not face much pressure given all of his success there, but for a new coach the honeymoon period probably wouldn’t last very long. The Breslin Center is a good arena and Sparty’s fan support is near the top of the list for all schools. Include the successes of the past with Magic Johnson’s championship team and Izzo’s Flintstones along with its recruiting location near Detroit and not far from Chicago and Indiana, and Michigan State represents as an attractive national position when the job reopens. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big Ten Resume Review: Part I

Posted by Brendan Brody on December 9th, 2013

After everything has calmed down in the aftermath of the B1G/ACC challenge, it’s time to take a first look at the resumes that each team in the league has put together. Granted, this is going to be a fluid situation all season, but right now this is how it shakes out. I won’t reveal my exact methodology, but suffice it to say that I used a combination of KenPom efficiency ratings and the RPI to assign a specific value to each team’s wins and losses. Starting from the bottom and working up, this is how B1G teams stand right now as we head into the exams period. I’ve listed teams #12-#7 here, with teams #6-#1 to come tomorrow.

12. Northwestern (5-5)

Chris Collins' First Season in Evanston Has Been Challenging So Far

Chris Collins’ First Season in Evanston Has Been Challenging So Far

  • Best Win: Western Michigan  (51-35)
  • Worst Loss: Illinois State (68-64)
  • Breakdown: Northwestern has played four power conference teams but did not win any of those games. The Wildcats played Missouri reasonably close, but they lost by 21 to an NC State team that is predicted to finish in the middle to the bottom of the ACC. They have a chance to finish the season with more than 20 losses given the formidable conference slate Chris Collins’ team has ahead of it. They got back on track slightly with a win against a top-150 Western Michigan team on Saturday, but don’t expect the wins to pile up here.
  • Status Right Now: No postseason.
  • Projected Status: No postseason. Not trying to pick on the Wildcats, but they’ve done nothing to show that they are better than all the other bottom-level teams in the conference right now, and might only win three or four games in league play.

11. Nebraska (6-3)

  • Best Win: Miami (60-49)
  • Worst Loss: @ Creighton (82-67)
  • Breakdown: When listing Creighton as their worst loss here, this is more because of the fact that the Cornhuskers blew a golden opportunity to get a signature win, and because they looked so bad in doing it. That said,  Tim Miles’ squad has probably slightly exceeded expectations. They’ve started 6-3, but have no wins versus anyone that would be in the field of 68. Their first two losses to UMass and UAB weren’t horrible ones, and neither is the Creighton loss, but the Huskers need a win at Cincinnati on December 28 or they would need to do some significant conference damage.
  • Status Right Now: No postseason.
  • Projected Status: No postseason. This team could pull off some upsets and get to five or six B1G wins, and if so, they could find themselves headed to the NIT.

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Youthful Purdue Still Seeking Some Level of Consistency

Posted by Walker Carey on December 5th, 2013

Walker Carey is an RTC Correspondent. He filed this report after Wednesday night’s game in West Lafayette between Boston College and Purdue.

The 2012-13 season marked the first time in five years that Purdue did not suit up any of the fantastic Robbie Hummel, E’Twaun Moore, and JaJuan Johnson class – a group that brought great success to the program and concluded its time in West Lafayette with all three players’ jerseys in the rafters. Consequently, that campaign was widely expected to be a rebuilding year. Those expectations turned out to be accurate, as Matt Painter’s squad struggled to a 16-18 record that resulted in the school missing out on the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006. Not all was lost for Purdue during the losing season, though, as its lack of veteran depth allowed freshmen Ronnie Johnson, Rapheal Davis, and A.J. Hammons to gain significant experience they likely would not have garnered on a veteran team.

Purdue coach Matt Painter has had to rely on a bevy of young talent. (AP)

Purdue coach Matt Painter has had to rely on a bevy of young talent. (AP)

Purdue’s youth movement from last season has carried over into this one. While the now-experienced Johnson, Davis, Hammons, and senior guard Terone Johnson are key pieces to the puzzle, Painter’s squad once again has several freshmen who are providing the team with a significant boost. Guard Kendall Stephens – known for his shooting prowess – stepped into the starting lineup in his first game on campus and has since started eight of nine. Fellow freshman guard Bryson Scott entered Wednesday’s game as the team’s third-leading scorer despite only playing 17.3 minutes a night. Freshmen forward Basil Smotherman has not played as many minutes as Stephens or Scott, but he entered Wednesday evening shooting a very impressive 64.3 percent (16-of-28) from the field and has also shown he is capable of some high-flying theatrics.

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Key Questions in the Wednesday Big Ten/ACC Challenge Late Games

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on December 4th, 2013

The first day of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge is over with the ACC up 4-2. Now, we’re on to day two. With that in mind, Matt Patton and Lathan Wells from the ACC microsite and Jonathan Batuello and Brendan Brody from the B1G microsite got together to answer some key questions concerning this year’s Challenge. This post will preview the three late Wednesday night games, but be sure to read the earlier post previewing today’s early games. Also be sure to check out both microsites over the next few days for further reaction and analysis as the Challenge finishes up.

North Carolina at Michigan State, 9:00 PM, ESPN

Gary Harris and Michigan State are heavy favorites in the match-up against North Carolina (Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

Gary Harris and Michigan State are heavy favorites in the match-up against North Carolina (Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

B1G: What was billed as one of the biggest games in the Challenge doesn’t appear like it will be close considering UNC’s early struggles. Still, it did beat Louisville so the potential for an upset is there. For UNC to win in East Lansing tonight, it has to find a way to guard Adreian Payne. Should the Tar Heels put Brice Johnson on him or go with a committee approach with the other bigs they have on the roster?

ACC: Payne’s ability to go outside probably precludes UNC from just putting one player on him. James Michael McAdoo may be the most versatile big man they have, but the Heels can’t afford for him to fall into foul trouble chasing Payne around all over the place. This will likely be a by-committee approach with Johnson, McAdoo and several other big men splitting duties throughout. For North Carolina, there’s no question that they have been most successful when Marcus Paige is scoring from all over the floor. How does Michigan State make sure that Paige doesn’t beat them, something a team such as the defending national champion was unable to do?

B1G: Paige has most definitely been on a roll to start the season, but aside from some flashes from James Michael McAdoo and Brice Johnson, he has proven to be UNC’s only real offensive weapon. Tom Izzo wouldn’t do anything as drastic as playing a box-and-one against him, but it makes sense to put Branden Dawson on him. He is Michigan State’s best defender and can defend four positions reasonably well. Another option would be to play Travis Trice more minutes on the floor at the same time as Keith Appling, with Appling handling the play-making duties and Trice concentrating more on the other end. Either way, defending Paige has to be priority number one for MSU. If Izzo focuses his defense on shutting down Paige, then Roy Williams will have to look to McAdoo. How can he be most effective offensively against Michigan State? Do they try to get him going down low or have him use his quickness on the wing?

ACC: McAdoo has been the biggest enigma on this team so far and it appears he’s struggling in bouncing between playing the three and four positions. The team will need to get him involved more often on the blocks, but it may come down to his aggressiveness and and restored confidence more so than any designed offensive schemes. He’s best when he can turn and face the basket or get out in transition; the latter would be helped by a solid rebounding effort from the Tar Heels. Michigan State doesn’t give many opportunities, though, as by most metrics it is one of the most efficient offensive teams in the nation.  But is there one player who would be tasked with taking over the game if the team unexpectedly goes cold from the floor for an extended stretch?

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Big Ten M5: 12.04.13 Edition

Posted by Brendan Brody on December 4th, 2013

morning5_bigten

  1. Despite the fact that the tournament this year just finished last Saturday, the field for the 2014 Battle For Atlantis was announced on Tuesday afternoon. Wisconsin is one of the eight teams listed, along with UCLA, North Carolina, Florida, Georgetown, Butler, Oklahoma, and UAB. Without the benefit of having a crystal ball to determine how all these teams will look next year, on paper this is a loaded field. The Badgers should return pretty much everyone of merit except for Ben Brust. Even if Sam Dekker decides to leave early, look for Wisconsin to do some damage here much like they have done with their non-conference schedule so far this season.
  2. Nebraska has gotten off to a decent start so far, but that hasn’t stopped Tim Miles from doing some tinkering with things at the early juncture of the season. He wouldn’t specifically name the changes to the starting lineup, but he just said that there will be some changes for the Miami game on Wednesday. If one were to speculate, Ray Gallegos would be a good candidate as someone to get the nod. Gallegos isn’t playing particularly well after returning from injury, so this could be something that gets the senior guard back to the level he was at last season. Nebraska has a lot of inter-changeable parts, so regardless of who starts, 9 players will probably get at least 10 minutes of playing time.
  3. Basil Smotherman was not overly hyped coming into his freshman campaign at Purdue, but he definitely made his presence felt for Purdue as they salvaged one victory in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando. Smotherman made his first career start in their win over Siena in that tournament on Sunday. He has shown that he has elite athleticism and the ability to guard multiple positions on the floor. Purdue seems to be still figuring out their rotation and how to divide up minutes one game at a time. If Smotherman keeps playing like this, he may cut into the minutes of players like Rapheal Davis and Errick Peck, who have not played consistently well in the early going.
  4. Have no fear Michigan State fans, Gary Harris has less than a 1% chance of not playing against North Carolina on Wednesday night at the Breslin Center. Harris missed the Spartans previous game against Mt St. Mary’s due to an ankle problem that has kept him from being 100% healthy thus far. Despite all this, Harris is the team’s leading scorer at 17.7 points per game, and although they didn’t need him in their last win, his presence will be beneficial against an up-and-down Tar Heel team that beat Louisville, but lost to Belmont and UAB.
  5. More injury concerns are happening right now in Evanston, as Drew Crawford suffered a back injury against Missouri last Friday. He is also planning on playing tonight as Northwestern takes on North Carolina State. Crawford is equally, is not more important to his team than Harris is simply because Northwestern simply doesn’t have the same amount of talent residing on their roster. The Wildcats are already an underdog playing in Raleigh, and without Crawford, they would really have their work cut out for them. If Northwestern wants to turn things around, Crawford absolutely has to stay on the floor as much as possible.
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Pac-12 Roundup: Week Three

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) and Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on December 3rd, 2013

Out of the country? Living under a rock? Here’s what you missed in the third week of Pac-12 basketball.

Power Rankings (As voted upon by Connor Pelton, Andrew Murawa, and Adam Butler):

Nick Johnson Is Arizona's Leading Scorer Through Seven Games, And He Also Led The Wildcats To A 72-66 Win Over Duke On Friday. (Christian Petersen)

Nick Johnson Is Arizona’s Leading Scorer Through Seven Games, And He Also Led The Wildcats To A 72-66 Win Over Duke On Friday. (Christian Petersen)

  1. Arizona 
  2. Oregon
  3. UCLA 
  4. Colorado 
  5. California
  6. Arizona State
  7. Stanford
  8. Utah
  9. USC 
  10. Oregon State
  11. Washington 
  12. Washington State

Best Game – Arizona vs Duke: Marquette-Arizona State seemed destined for this slot earlier in the week, what with ASU getting its first marquee win of the season in thrilling fashion in front of a raucous Wells Fargo Arena crowd. Instead, that game was topped by Sun Devils’ rival Arizona, which five days later defeated #6 Duke in the NIT Season Tip-Off Championship in New York City. Neither team led by more than five points in the first half, and it was the Blue Devils who took a 36-33 lead into the locker rooms after a Tyler Thorton bucket. With great effort on the defensive end of the floor, Arizona eventually took the lead for good on a Brandon Ashley tip-in with nine minutes remaining. The lead swelled to double figures at three different points in the last quarter of the game, and when the final buzzer sounded it was 72-66 Wildcats. Junior guard Nick Johnson scored a team high 15 points in the win.

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