Big Ten Season Wrap-Up: Wisconsin

Posted by jnowak on April 9th, 2012

Well, it doesn’t get much more Wisconsin than that. In pretty typical Bo Ryan fashion, the Badgers were underestimated at the beginning of the season, handled their business in the nonconference, emerged as a player in the Big Ten race, and gave people some trouble in the NCAA Tournament before making any real, substantial noise. It’s become Wisconsin’s M.O. over the years and 2011-12 was really no different. Depending on who you ask, it’s a success or a failure. Let’s take a look back:

Here we are again: Close, but no cigar for Jordan Taylor and Wisconsin. (Getty Images/J. Rogash)

  • In a nutshell: Without a really dreadful stretch at the beginning of Big Ten play that left some wondering if Wisconsin would even make the NCAA Tournament — really? — the Badgers would have been right in the thick of the race for a Big Ten championship. Even with that three-game losing streak (and two of losses coming at home), the Badgers still managed to finish just a game back of the three-way tie for first place. That’s pretty darn good, all things considered. Jordan Taylor put this club on his shoulders and carried them within one point of a possible Elite Eight berth and an upset of top-seeded Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Overachievement: Is it unfair to narrow this down to a single game? Senior Rob Wilson, who had only two career starts under his belt by the time the Badgers met up with Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, made seven 3-pointers and dropped a career-high 30 points to lead Wisconsin past the Hoosiers in Indianapolis. Not even his mother could have seen that one coming. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big Ten Morning Five: 03.16.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on March 16th, 2012

  1. The Pit has been good to Wisconsin. The last time the Badgers played here — where they beat Montana on Thursday to advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament — they advanced to the Final Four, in 2000. The Badgers did everything expected of them in order to win — made their 3s, got production out of Jordan Taylor and defended well. Can The Pit offer up a little more good karma in their Saturday game against Vanderbilt?
  2. Everyone knows how important Jordan Taylor is to the Badgers’ success, but how about a guy off the bench?‘s Jesse Temple took notice of Rob Wilson, who had a breakout game during the Big Ten Tournament and has proven to be a valuable spark for Wisconsin as a key reserve. “It’s a lot of attention, but nothing’s really changed,” Wilson said. “I faced everything the same like I have.”
  3. Want to know the latest on the Nebraska coaching search? You’ll know, and we’ll all know, as soon as they know. The people in the know in Lincoln say mum’s the word when it comes to the search for Doc Sadler‘s replacement, and they aren’t expected to make any comments about it until the search is complete. Danny Manning, Scott Spinelli and Ben Howland have all been linked to the position, but it seems we aren’t going to get much more than that at this point.
  4. Don’t forget, there are Big Ten teams in action outside of the NCAA Tournament. Northwestern is prepping to play Washington on Friday, after both teams narrowly missed the Big Dance. For the Wildcats to keep up with the high-powered Huskies, Northwestern will need maintained production from JerShon Cobb. He is averaging 18.7 PPG over Northwestern’s last three, and he’s shooting 66.7 percent in those contests.
  5. Ohio State has had its lulls this season, but a lot of how the team plays depends on the play of All-American center Jared Sullinger.‘s Zac Jackson says Sullinger is playing his best basketball right now, peaking at just the right time, and that could mean trouble for whomever gets in the Buckeyes way down the stretch in the East regional of the Big Dance.
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Big Ten Tournament Second Round Recaps

Posted by jnowak on March 10th, 2012

Here’s a breakdown of how things went down in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals on Friday in Indianapolis:

Wisconsin senior Rob Wilson was practically unstoppable on Friday. (AP)

Wisconsin 79, Indiana 71
  • The Hoosiers were playing this quarterfinal game without the services of senior Verdell Jones III, who tore his ACL in the team’s win on Thursday, but did have a hometown crowd behind them. As it turned out, it wouldn’t be enough to silence the unlikeliest of assassins: Wisconsin’s Rob Wilson. The senior, who came into the game averaging just 3.1 points per game, went off for 30 to give Bo Ryan his school record 266th victory. The win for the Badgers was also significant in that the program avoided its fourth straight one-and-done appearance in the tournament, setting a date with Michigan State on Saturday. Now can Wisconsin avoid losing three times in one season to the Spartans?
Michigan State 92, Iowa 75
  • It was a game many were watching to see how the Spartans would respond without freshman wing Branden Dawson, who was lost for the year with a torn ACL suffered on Sunday against Ohio State. Those questions were answered by a number of Dawson’s teammates. It was a balanced scoring attack for Michigan State — led by Draymond Green‘s 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in just 24 minutes of play — that had 10 players score in the game. If Adreian Payne (16 points, seven rebounds), Travis Trice (nine points) and Brandon Wood (10 points) can all contribute like this, the Spartans are as much a threat as ever. For Iowa, it’s the end of the road for senior Matt Gatens, who averaged 15.7 PPG this year and finishes sixth all-time in career scoring at Iowa.

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Big Ten Morning Five: 03.10.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on March 10th, 2012

  1. The Bruce Weber era at Illinois is over. So what comes next for the Fighting Illini? As Loren Tate points out, In a lot of ways this group is in trouble next year. Everything from a depleted up-and-coming junior class to this group’s 3-point shooting talent leaves a lot of doubt for the 2012-13 season. The job should draw the attention of some high-profile names, but the new head coach will have a tough hill to climb.
  2. Speaking of Weber’s fate, there’s one big-name coach in the conference who isn’t pleased about how it all went down. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo held nothing back when voicing his displeasure about Weber’s firing after the Spartans’ win over Iowa on Saturday. “My wife and I shed a tear this morning over it,” Izzo said. “And it was half for Bruce and half for my profession.”
  3. Bruce Weber was not the conference’s only casualty on this Black Friday. Nebraska‘s Doc Sadler was fired on Friday, after Nebraska finished tied with Penn State for last place in the conference this year. It was the Cornhusker’s debut season in the Big Ten, but athletic director Tom Osborne made it clear he wants to see the program head in a different direction.
  4. One positive that really emerged at the end of Iowa‘s season was the strong play of senior Matt Gatens, whose career came to an end on Friday in Indianapolis. Gatens scored just 10 points in the game, after being bothered by the Spartans’ defense throughout and not taking his first shot until 10 minutes and 37 seconds were left in the first half. He finishes sixth all-time on Iowa’s scoring list with 1,621 points after averaging 15.7 PPG this year.
  5. If you’re drawing up a game plan to beat Wisconsin, how much energy would you typically pour into defending Rob Wilson? From this point forward, probably a little bit more than before. The senior, who averaged 3.1 points per game entering Friday’s quarterfinal, dropped a cool 30 against Indiana to power the Badgers to the semifinals. “Needless to say we had a player who was in a zone,” said coach Bo Ryan. Ya think?
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Checking in on… the Big Ten

Posted by jstevrtc on February 10th, 2010

Jason Prziborowski is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference.

The big thing from the past week:

  • The Big Ten is wide open – So much for Michigan State being in the driver’s seat. The Big Ten has now split itself almost completely in half. There are the teams in the top who have a legitimate shot at winning the conference, and the rest that have absolutely no shot except for the role of spoiler. Michigan State has lost three straight, Ohio State has won five straight, Purdue has won six straight, and Illinois has won five straight. Now the race is on. There are few head-to-head matchups of top teams in the next week, so be on the lookout for upsets as the only way to continue the conference shakedown.

Now four Big Ten teams are in the top 25: Purdue #6, Michigan State #10, Wisconsin #11, and Ohio State #13.

Power Rankings

  1. Purdue                                 20-3, 8-3
  2. Michigan State                  19-6, 9-3
  3. Wisconsin                            17-5, 8-4
  4. Ohio State                           18-6, 8-3
  5. Illinois                                   17-8, 9-3
  6. Minnesota                          14-8, 5-5
  7. Northwestern                   16-7, 5-6
  8. Michigan                              11-12, 4-7
  9. Indiana                                 9-13, 3-7
  10. Iowa                                      8-16, 2-9
  11. Penn State                          8-15, 0-11

Coming Up

  • Michigan @ Minnesota – February 11th – 7:00 ET – ESPN – This is really the battle of the two teams in the Big Ten with some of the most unfulfilled potential, at least as far as the pre-season rankings are concerned. Rather surprisingly, these two teams have yet to meet this season, but at home, I am leaning toward a victory for the Gophers, but I look forward to seeing what Team Sims & Harris have to say about that for the Wolverines.
  • Ohio State @ Illinois – February 14th – 1:00 ET – CBS – This is the first of two great Valentine’s Day games in the Big Ten. I know it might get you in trouble to watch this game instead of doing some more traditional things that won’t get you in trouble. For the single guys, or those who are married and who want to get in trouble, this should be a great game, especially in terms of how the Big Ten standings will shake out. It is very likely that, as of press time, Illinois and Ohio State will be tied with Michigan State for the top of the Big Ten. This will be the first matchup for these two teams, so it will be interesting to see what Illinois does to compensate for their lack of size and strength against the Buckeyes. I think OSU is playing too well right now to lose this game, even though Demetri McCamey is going toe to toe with anyone in the Big Ten right now for Illinois.
  • Minnesota @ Northwestern – February 14th – 5:00 ET – This game means more to Northwestern than for Minnesota, at least as far as postseason hopes are concerned. Minnesota won the last matchup by 4 points at home, but it should be a different game on the road. The Gophers have struggled on the road this year, especially against decent teams, so the edge goes to Northwestern, especially if the Big Ten hopes to have five or six teams in the tournament this year, which might be a stretch, based on the conference’s RPI ranking.

Breaking It Down

  • Oh where, oh where have the Spartans gone? Michigan State’s leadership is firmly vested in Kalin Lucas.  Unfortunately for Michigan State, three games ago, when taking on Wisconsin on the road, Lucas sprained his ankle, and the Spartans haven’t been the same since. The Spartans with Lucas don’t lose against Illinois, but I am not sure he could have overcome Purdue at 100%. The problem area for MSU has been their defense and the inconsistent play of Durrell Summers. In their first matchup, Wisconsin shot 33.3% for the game against MSU’s 38.1%. In the second matchup, Wisconsin shoots 50.9% to MSU’s 37.0%. Same with the Illinois games. In the first matchup, Illinois shoots 34.9% compared with their 52.5% for the second. Durrell Summers was good for double figures in losses to Illinois and Wisconsin, but only 2 against Purdue. Summers can’t be that inconsistent for the Spartans to win, especially with Lucas not back at full strength yet.
  • Purdue has now established itself as the top team in the conference again. The Big Three for Purdue are really playing well right now, and that has turned the Boilers around. At times during their losing streak not all three cylinders were firing at the same time, but now they are. E’Twaun Moore just had a season high against Michigan State with a 25/6 asst game. Robbie Hummel is always solid, but now JaJuan Johnson is now much more consistent as well. Johnson averaged 6 PPG during their slide, but has been averaging just shy of 19 PPG in this six game winning streak. Purdue will take care of Iowa, but winning against Ohio State on the road is something that the senior class has never done.
  • Wisconsin loses at home. Wisconsin had an 18-game winning streak and a 51-game winning streak against unranked opponents in the Big Ten under coach Bo Ryan snapped in the past week. I would have expected someone like Purdue or Michigan State to pull off the upset, but instead it was Illinois. Wisconsin actually blew out Michigan State at home, so it is even more surprising that Wisconsin lost this game. There are some interesting differences between the Michigan State and Illinois games. The first has to do with bench minutes. Against the Spartans, the Badgers were able to rest their starters a little bit more with Rob Wilson playing for 24 minutes and putting up 10 points. Against Illinois, the Wisconsin bench only played a combined 18 minutes and contributed 7 points. Keaton Nankivil also had a deep drop in production and shooting percentage against Illinois, once again relying too much on the long range bomb, and only having one drop. The good news for Wisconsin is that their schedule only includes two games that might be tough in the future in Minnesota and Illinois on the road.
  • Ohio State might be the second best team in the Big Ten, if not the best. Ohio State has only lost one game in the Big Ten since Evan Turner has been back, and only two games overall. Ohio State was #13 nationally before Turner went down, #18 the week after, #17 the week after that, then #13, and then dropping from the Top 25 following losses to Wisconsin and Michigan. They are back where they started, but I believe they are a much stronger team now. I don’t think Turner will let this team lose, at this point. The rest of the team didn’t do a ton against Iowa, so Turner went off for a 32/7/5/4 steals game, matching his career high in points. Did we mention this guy is only a junior? Talk about simply amazing. Ohio State has games ahead with Illinois, Purdue and Michigan State that will ultimately determine who wins the Big Ten.
  • Minnesota wins on the road behind Lawrence Westbrook. Minnesota got blown out on the road against Evan Turner and Company, and almost blew another game against Penn State, but some last second heroics by Lawrence Westbrook, helped to dash the Nittany Lions hopes as well as preserve Minnesota from being the first team to lose to Penn State this year in the Big Ten. Four of the five starters have been playing well as of late, with the exception of Devoe Joseph. Where has this guy gone? I saw him at Indiana, and was very impressed, but his production has fallen off a cliff. It might be due to confidence, or something else, but without Joseph, they can’t win the big games. The Michigan game could go either way, and they could take off Northwestern’s glass slipper if they are able to win on the road.
  • Illinois is tied for the lead in the Big Ten, really? I wrote last week that I thought most of Illinois’s success in the Big Ten was due to their scheduling. I don’t think I wrong on that assessment up until a week ago, but the reason Illinois is tied for the lead in the Big Ten is that they have really stepped it up as of late. Beating Michigan State and Wisconsin were huge wins, and really demonstrated the parity in the Big Ten this year. Demetri McCamey has turned himself into an animal in the Big Ten, and making the case that he should be a first team All-Big Ten guy at the end of the year if he keeps this up. He beat Indiana at the buzzer, took over against Wisconsin, and destroyed Michigan State from long range. Give it to Mike Tisdale for exploiting Wisconsin’s lack of height, as he can’t play with the big boys, which has been shown all year. Illinois is atop the Big Ten, but is far from out of the woods. They still have OSU twice, Purdue, and Wisconsin. If they can survive that gauntlet they might be able to prove that they are a tournament team.
  • Northwestern needs to continue to win the must-wins. Northwestern did a great job against Indiana at home, especially with a very balanced scoring attack, with all five starters in double figures. They took the game early and never looked back. They will need to do the same against Iowa, Minnesota, Penn State, and Indiana. They really only have one game left that could get them into trouble, and that’s Wisconsin. I look forward to seeing how Northwestern does when they’re in control of their own tournament destiny.
  • Can Michigan be a spoiler? Michigan has hit the skids in the Big Ten. Ever since their win against UConn, they’ve gone straight downhill. Sure, they beat Iowa, but that’s not really news. At this point, Michigan can only settle for spoiler. The games I see on their schedule in which they would most likely fill that role are Illinois at home, and Ohio State and Michigan State on the road. I am not sure they have enough firepower to beat either OSU or MSU, but they could have a shot against Illinois. Sure, they beat OSU earlier, but that was sans Evan Turner, so I heavily discount that win. Let’s see what Michigan can do.
  • Indiana’s slide continues. Indiana can’t seem to perform with the same level of energy in back-to-back games these days. They brought everything they could against Purdue and took it to the wire against the sixth-ranked team in the nation at home. Then they came out flat against Northwestern on the road and got blown out. Now they have lost four straight with maybe only one game that they should win left in Big Ten play. That could be a good sign for the Hoosiers who tend to play much better as underdogs, anyway. Verdell Jones continues to put up big numbers, but it looks like Christian Watford might have solved his scoring slump against Northwestern, which is a good sign for the Hoosiers.
  • Will Iowa win another game in the Big Ten? Iowa has now lost four straight in the Big Ten, and it doesn’t look good for the foreseeable future. Their best shot is Indiana at home, and that might be the only other game they win this year. Of course, Indiana doesn’t want to repeat what happened to them at home at Iowa, so it is hard to predict what will happen with that game. The good news for Iowa — more for next year than this year — is that they aren’t getting blown out. The bad news is that they are only scoring in the high 40s and low 50s in their games, clearly not enough offensive production to hang with the big boys who are used to putting up a lot more points. To add insult to injury, Iowa is shooting in the 30%-range, and having to rely on offensive put-backs for offense. The Hawkeyes gear up for Northwestern at home before taking on Purdue on the road.
  • Penn State is still winless. It is unfortunate that when looking at the headlines about Penn State games, it is usually about the other team’s heroics in pulling out the big games. The fact is that the Nittany Lions have yet to win a game this year. Their last win goes back to December 21st against American. Maybe Penn State should have been as clever as Iowa to schedule an easy non-conference game in the middle of the year to make sure their confidence doesn’t wane. One would hope that they could pull out one of these close games, but so far they continue to come up empty, with the latest disappointment coming from Lawrence Westbrook’s heroics at the buzzer. Talor Battle continues to be the best player to play on a losing team. Penn State takes on Michigan State at home before hitting the road to take on Northwestern and Michigan.
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Set Your Tivo: 01.20.10

Posted by rtmsf on January 20th, 2010

We’re trying a new star system out here at the Set Your Tivo desk beginning today.  Let us know in the comments if you think we should change our ratings system.

SYT Star System

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Xavier @ Temple – 7 pm on FSOhio and CSN  (*****)

It is a shame more people won’t be able to watch this Atlantic Ten battle that will most likely decide the regular season conference champion.  Xavier is the only 4-0 team in the A10 right now, but Temple is the conference’s representative in the top 25 rankings.  Both teams are coming off four straight wins, including Xavier’s recent victory over a strong Dayton team.  Needless to say, these teams are talented and should provide an entertaining game.  Scouts will also be in attendance to see how potential first round pick Jordan Crawford can match up against Temple’s methodical style of play.  The Owls only score 64.6 points per game, but at 56.0 points given up on defense, most of their games are close.  Considering Xavier’s lack of success in big games this year (Butler, Wake Forest, Baylor, Kansas State) and Temple’s ability to perform well at home, look for the Owls to give Xavier a run for their money, but something tells me the Musketeers are ready to emerge as the best team in this talented conference.

Georgetown @Pittsburgh – 7 pm on ESPNU  (****)

Those without ESPNU will unfortunately miss out on the night’s only matchup between two top 25 teams.  Both Pittsburgh and Georgetown have been pleasant surprises this year, as Georgetown responded from last year’s NIT season and Pitt has been able to cope with the loss of several key players.  The Panthers have all the momentum heading into this game, as they have won eight straight while the Hoyas are coming off of a loss to Villanova.  Over 82 percent of ESPN voters claim Pitt will win this game at the Petersen Events Center, where they are 10-0 this year, but Georgetown will not be an easy team to take down.  The Hoyas are much more balanced with four players scoring in double figures, including center Greg Monroe, who is averaging a double-double so far this season.  If Georgetown’s road woes (just 3-2 on the year with losses in their last two road games) and Pitt’s ability to excel at home continue, look for Pitt to ride Ashton Gibbs and company to stay even with Villanova atop the Big East.  However, Georgetown’s defense has been strong all season, and if they can find a way to lock down Gibbs or Brad Wanamaker, this game will be a close call.

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