Big Ten Tournament Storylines: Quarterfinal Friday

Posted by Brendan Brody on March 11th, 2016

We’re now down to eight teams remaining in the Big Ten Tournament after a wild Thursday resulted in significant upsets to Iowa and Wisconsin. Today the top four seeds will take the floor at Bankers Life Fieldhouse hoping to avoid the same fate that befell the #5 and #6 seeds. As we head into the quarterfinals, here are four storylines to watch during the tournament’s third day in Indianapolis.

Malcolm Hill and the Illini will have to hope that the slipper still fits against Purdue Purdue on Friday. (USA Today Images)

Malcolm Hill and his Illini will have to hope that the slipper still fits against Purdue Purdue on Friday. (USA Today Images)

  1. Can Illinois Keep It Going?: Even with Iowa finishing the season with a whimper, #12 Illinois’ win over the Hawkeyes on Thursday might be the biggest Big Ten upset since Rutgers beat Wisconsin last season. An impressive game from Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn along with continued strong play from freshman Jalen Coleman-Lands could get the Illini into the tournament semifinals. Remember that John Groce’s unit — thanks to 52 points from Hill and Dunn — has already beaten Purdue once this year.  Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

Big Ten Weekend in Review

Posted by Brendan Brody on January 12th, 2016

Much like the NFL Wildcard games, the road was friendly to visiting Big Ten teams over the weekend. Impressive home wins from Indiana and Illinois on Sunday halted a four-game visitor’s winning streak, but blowouts were also a common theme, as only one of the weekend’s six contests featured a single-figure final scoring margin. As always, there were several impressive performances individually and from certain teams. Here are the weekend’s superlatives.

Malcolm Hill proved he's one of the best scorers in the Big Ten Sunday by scoring 30 points against Purdue. (Stephen Haas, Herald and Review)

Malcolm Hill proved he’s one of the best scorers in the Big Ten Sunday by scoring 30 points against Purdue. (Stephen Haas, Herald and Review)

Player of the Weekend: Illinois’ Malcolm Hill figured he would need to be a scorer when Purdue’s Raphael Davis started the game guarding his high-scoring teammate Kendrick Nunn. Hill did so to the tune of 13 points from a variety of different spots on the floor. When Davis moved over to Hill in the second half, Nunn went off for 18 points of his own. Hill, who had already by then found his groove, contributed 17 more as the juniors combined for 35 of the Illini’s 47 points coming after the break. Hill also led the team in rebounds (nine), tied for the team lead in assists (three), and added a pair of blocks. In a lost season in Champaign, Hill has been a bright spot in hitting for double figures in all 17 games. The total package that he brings beyond just scoring was on full display in Illinois’ impressive win, its first of the Big Ten season.

Super Sub of the Weekend: Maryland barely squeaked by Wisconsin in Madison on Saturday, and although it wasn’t to the level of his 39-point, 12-rebound performance against Penn State last week, Diamond Stone was quietly efficient in the victory. On a day when the Terps didn’t get much from Jake Layman or Rasheed Sulaimon, Stone went 4-of-5 from the field en route to an 11-point outing. In what was no doubt an emotional homecoming for the freshman from Milwaukee who spurned his home state school, Stone didn’t overdo it and was a key reason that the Terrapins remained perfect in league play at 4-0.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big Ten Weekend in Review

Posted by Brendan Brody on January 5th, 2016

After a non-conference season that seemingly flew by, we’ve now moved into Big Ten play. Saturday’s action in particular featured a number of games that allowed anyone who hadn’t checked out much of the Big Ten a chance to catch up on what they’ve missed. All 14 team played over the weekend, so what follows are a few of the highlights from the first slate of weekend action.

Melo Trimble did a little bit of everything for Maryland as they knocked off Northwestern on Saturday night. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Melo Trimble did a little bit of everything for Maryland as they knocked off Northwestern on Saturday night. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Player of the Weekend: Yogi Ferrell (Indiana) and Jarrod Uthoff (Iowa) played well in their teams’ wins, but Maryland’s Melo Trimble gets the nod here for his play on both ends of the floor. He and Rasheed Suliamon made things miserable for Northwestern’s shooters, holding Tre Demps to 4-of-16 shooting and the Wildcats to 2-of-20 from behind the three-point line. While Trimble’s perimeter defense was outstanding, his play on the offensive end was also noteworthy. Seven of his eight assists came in the first half when his shot wasn’t falling, but he came alive for 17 points in the second half with timely long-range bombing every time Northwestern started to make a run. Trimble’s assist rate jump from his freshman season (21.2%) to this year (34.9%) is partially a function of a more talented cast, but his passing has really improved this season. He ended up with 24 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists as the Terrapins notched a quality road win in Evanston.

Super Sub of the Weekend: Indiana’s Troy Williams hasn’t started conference play very well and James Blackmon, Jr. is out indefinitely. Luckily for the Hoosiers, OG Anunoby has emerged as a legitimate playmaker with the extra minutes — a stat line of 11 points in 11 minutes on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting against Nebraska should surely earn him some additional court time in the future. His key steal in the late stages of Saturday’s game when the Cornhuskers were still within striking distance allowed Indiana to close it out. Tom Crean is not afraid to play a deep bench, so look for Anunoby to see extended minutes as Big Ten play progresses.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big Ten M5: 01.04.16 Edition

Posted by Brendan Brody on January 4th, 2016


  1. Michigan State has started off 1-1 in Big Ten play and 2-1 overall since losing senior Player of the Year front-runner Denzel Valentine. The Spartans have especially struggled on the offensive end of the floor without Valentine’s scoring and play-making abilities. Sparty will only have to hold serve a bit longer however, as Valentine has targeted Michigan State’s January 10 game against Penn State for his return to action. According to, Valentine said that he’s just waiting on some of the swelling in his knee to go down. This means he will miss only one more game — on January 7 against Illinois.
  2. Iowa won at Purdue on Saturday for the first time since 2006, and it did so by erasing a 17-point halftime deficit. Senior leadership played a role as Jarrod Uthoff rallied the troops during a spirited halftime speech. The senior backed it up on the court as well, scoring 25 for the game. This means that Iowa will more than likely make their way into the Top 25 for the first time all season, and gives them two huge resume-enhancers for the week after they beat Michigan State earlier in the week as well.
  3. Marc Loving continues to lead a resurgence of sorts for Ohio State, as the Buckeyes held off Illinois on Sunday afternoon to go to 2-0 in league play. The junior wing went on a personal 6-0 run to help squelch an Illinois rally in the second half. Loving ended the game with 27 points, doing so by getting to the free throw line 19 times. The Buckeyes have needed someone to become their go-to-scorer, and Loving looks to be starting to emerge and take the offensive burden on his shoulders. Ohio State has now won six in a row, and look like they’ve turned a corner after their important non-conference win over Kentucky.
  4. Despite some uneven play during their first 14 games, Maryland is still a threat to cut the nets down in April as one of the most talented teams in all the land. They submitted one of their best performances of the season on Saturday when they beat Northwestern in Evanston. The Wildcats had been burning people with their perimeter shooting, but the Terrapins held them to a woeful 2-for-20 night from deep as Melo Trimble and Rasheed Suliamon harassed their shooters all night. After a shaky offensive effort against Penn State in their conference lid-lifter, the Terrapins won this one by displaying a stingy defense that if sustained, makes them one of the favorites to win the regular season crown in the Big Ten.
  5. In an assessment of Indiana’s two wins to start off Big Ten play, one of the major positives has been the play of the freshmen and of the bench at large. With James Blackmon Jr out of action, the likes of Nick Zeisloft, OG Anunoby, and Max Bielfeldt all have increased their production. This bodes well for if/when Blackmon Jr comes back into the lineup, as a deeper bench will allow the Hoosiers to more effectively play their uptempo offensive style without a drop off with the subs in the game. Bielfeldt and freshman Thomas Bryant have also done a nice job scoring in the post, giving the Hoosiers more ways to beat teams instead of always relying on jump shots.
Share this story

Maryland’s Potential Exhibited in Win Over UConn

Posted by Brendan Brody on December 10th, 2015

The phrase “coming-out party” is one that is overused when referring to a newcomer who finally puts everything together. However, if we are talking about Diamond Stone‘s Jimmy V Classic coming-out party on Tuesday night (in Maryland’s 76-66 win over Connecticut), the description couldn’t be more apt. The freshman had his best game of the season as the Terrapins rode his efforts along with sophomore point guard Melo Trimble to grab their biggest win to date. It was a showing that offered another reminder that Mark Turgeon‘s team has a chance to be special.

Diamond Stone Had His Best Game of the Season at the Jimmy V Classic (USA Today Images)

Diamond Stone Had His Best Game of the Season at the Jimmy V Classic (USA Today Images)

On a night when Rasheed Sulaimon and Jake Layman didn’t really get going, it was Stone and Trimble who took over. Stone matched his season high in points (16) while grabbing a season-best nine rebounds against the Huskies. It didn’t seem to matter that the freshman was engaged in a matchup with experienced UConn big man Amida Brimah, as Stone tallied six offensive boards in attacking the glass all night long. Last season, Trimble, Layman and Dez Wells were relied upon heavily as the only legitimate offensive threats. This year, the team’s inside attack packs significantly more punch, with Stone and fellow newcomer Robert Carter offering a sturdy complement to the outside scoring of Trimble. All in all, the win over the Huskies was yet another piece of evidence that Turgeon may have the best starting five in the Big Ten, and perhaps even nationally.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Starting Five: Five Big Ten Teams Feeling Good About Feast Week

Posted by Brendan Brody on November 30th, 2015

The non-conference portion of the schedule hasn’t been great to the Big Ten so far this season, but Feast Week gave some of the league’s teams positive feelings about the future. Here are five schools that can feel good about themselves after the week that was.

John Groce got his lineup back in full, and his squad looked much better. (USAT Images)

John Groce got his full lineup back and his squad looked much better as a result. (USAT Images)

  1. Illinois: The Illini have a lot of extra dead weight to shed from their 3-4 start to the season, but anyone who watched their win against UAB and the first 30 minutes against Iowa State saw that this is a different and better team with a full complement of players. Kendrick Nunn looked rusty but he averaged 18.5 PPG in the two games — a healthy Nunn, Leron Black and Jaylon Tate showed the potential that exists here. The knee injury to Mike Thorne, Jr., however, is a real downer.
  2. Maryland: After struggling with teams that they shouldn’t have struggled with, the Terps finally put it all together against Rhode Island on Wednesday night in the championship game of the Cancun Classic. It appears as though Maryland’s on-court chemistry and offensive movement are improving with the realization that they any member of the starting unit can carry them for stretches — Rasheed Suliamon and Robert Carter Jr., for example, had moments where they looked like the best players on the floor. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

Mark Turgeon: RTC Preseason B1G Coach of the Year

Posted by Brendan Brody on November 13th, 2015

It’s amazing how quickly things can flip for a college basketball coach. Depending on the status of the program, restless fans and administrators can make someone who’s experienced some degree of success (see: Crean, Tom) feel like his job might be in jeopardy. Other times things can flip in a positive way. Maryland’s Mark Turgeon took a team that had lost four transfers and had little to no expectations coming into the 2014-15 campaign to a second place finish in the Big Ten and Round of 32 appearance in the NCAA Tournament. We here at the Big Ten microsite are banking on Maryland being even better this season; and because of this, the Terps’ head coach is our preseason Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Mark Turgeon is our preseason Coach of the Year in the Big Ten. (USA TODAY Sports)

Mark Turgeon is our preseason Coach of the Year in the Big Ten. (USA TODAY Sports)

Turgeon did a masterful job meshing his freshmen with his returnees last year. Dez Wells, Jake Layman and Melo Trimble had such great chemistry that it looked as if they had been playing together for years. Team chemistry and leadership were obviously a problem the year prior, so Turgeon deserves a lot of credit for putting things together on the team’s way to a 28-7 record. The one thing that might prevent him from becoming this season’s Big Ten Coach of the Year would be experiencing trouble getting his talented newcomers on the same page this season. Based on talent alone, Maryland has the best and most balanced starting five in the Big Ten. Robert Carter was able to practice with the team last season, so his adjustment shouldn’t be very difficult. But can freshman Diamond Stone and Duke transfer Rasheed Suliamon come in and play their roles without issue? The entire starting five has NBA aspirations down the line, so a major key for Turgeon this season will be getting everyone to share the ball for the betterment of the team. If they do, Maryland should win the Big Ten and rack up the hardware. Trimble could be the Player of the Year; Stone could be the Freshman of the Year; expect Turgeon to make it a clean sweep.

Share this story

Diamond Stone: RTC Preseason Big Ten ROY

Posted by Brendan Brody on November 12th, 2015

Sometimes it’s best to keep your analysis simple. There are four elite recruits coming into the Big Ten this season, and all of them are large in stature and pedigree. Each is 6’8″ or taller and played in multiple high school All-Star games last spring. Michigan State’s Devonta Davis, Indiana’s Thomas Bryant and Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan could all make huge contributions to teams that have serious aspirations for March glory. But sometimes an award just goes to the player on the best team. In this case, we here at the RTC Big Ten Microsite feel that Maryland freshman Diamond Stone will be the Big Ten’s Rookie of the Year.

Diamond Stone is our pick to be the ROY in the Big Ten(USA Today Sports).

Diamond Stone is our pick as Big Ten ROY. (USA TODAY Sports)

One year ago, Stone capped off a storied run at Dominican High School in Milwaukee by deciding to head to Maryland. In picking Mark Turgeon’s Terps, he spurned his home state school (along with Connecticut and Oklahoma State) and relations between the two parties on social media haven’t exactly been cordial since. He will bring a polished offensive game that features a variety of post moves as well as the ability to step out to three-point range. Things aren’t as rosy on the defensive end of the floor, but, at a minimum, Stone has the size and athleticism to threaten some shots at the rim. Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story