Five Must-See Days of Action During B1G Conference Play

Posted by Brendan Brody on December 27th, 2013

After a non-c0nference stretch that saw six B1G teams ranked at one point or another, and a combined record of 116-29 as of December 26 for the 12 teams in the league, conference play starts in earnest on December 31. Many storylines and potential subplots are sure to emerge during the conference season, so here is a quick guide giving you five key days when you have to be glued to your TV if you’re a follower of the league. Go ahead and clear your calendars now.

 Will Sheehey will play an important role when the Hoosiers take on Illinois on December 31st in Champaign (AP Photo/Michael Conroy).

Will Sheehey will play an important role when the Hoosiers take on Illinois on December 31 in Champaign (AP Photo/Michael Conroy).

December 31

  • Ohio State at Purdue (1:00 PM, ESPN2)
  • Indiana at Illinois (3:00 PM, ESPN2)
  • Michigan State at Penn State (5:00 PM, BTN)
  • Nebraska at Iowa (7:00 PM, BTN)

The first day of conference action is highlighted by a rematch of the classic Indiana-Illinois game from last season that made Tyler Griffey a household name. Purdue, Penn State, and Nebraska all get their first chances to notch a statement win if they can knock off their Top 25 opponents.

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Trick or Treat: The Big East Schedule Edition

Posted by Todd Keryc on October 31st, 2013

In a little more than a week, the 2013-14 college basketball season will begin. Before it does, let’s take a closer look at the Big East schedule using today’s holiday to break it down.

TRICK: Non-Conference Play Will Mean More to Big East Teams This Season: You may have heard by now that a few prominent teams left the Big East this offseason. Of the top 10 teams from last year, six of them have left for other conferences. That includes two Final Four teams and five NCAA Tournament teams, with UConn’s APR issues being the reason for their exclusion, not their performance on the court. The departure of these perennial powerhouses means Big East teams will be missing important opportunities this year to register key wins against highly-ranked opponents. This puts added pressure on them to schedule serious non-conference games and to make those outings count, rather than relying on league play later on. Georgetown took note and did something smart, scheduling Michigan State for a neutral site game on February 1 in New York. They also have big non-conference games early against Oregon in South Korea and on the road at Kansas.

Thompson Got the Memo on Non-Conference Scheduling This Year

Thompson Got the Memo on Non-Conference Scheduling This Year

TREAT: A Chance to See A Couple of Old School Big East Rivalries: While most Big East fans were heartbroken when some of the league’s biggest names walked away, there is still the chance to see a couple of old match-ups unfold in non-conference play. Next week, Boston College visits Providence in their annual New England meeting, a rivalry that continued even when BC left for the ACC in 2005. On December 8, fans of New Jersey basketball will see their two premiere programs meet again as Seton Hall heads to Rutgers. The two biggest match-ups for Big East fans both involve old friend Syracuse. The Orange returns to its downstate home, Madison Square Garden, to take on longtime rival St. John’s on December 15. Then, on December 28, Syracuse is at home and will take on familiar foe Villanova.

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A Clash at the Top: Previewing Saturday’s Indiana-Michigan Game

Posted by jnowak on February 1st, 2013

It’s been a while since we’ve had a Big Ten game as highly anticipated as this weekend’s showdown in Bloomington between Indiana and Michigan. We knew both teams were going to be top 10-caliber teams, but the opportunity to see No. 1 and No. 4 square off in front of a Saturday night audience is a real treat. There’s going to be no shortage of excitement and things to watch for, but here are a few key match-ups that will have an impact on the game and which team will take over sole possession of first place in a few days.

Watching Trey Burke and Victor Oladipo square off will be a treat for basketball fans. (AnnArbor.com)

Watching Trey Burke and Victor Oladipo square off on Saturday night will be a pleasure for Big Ten fans. (AnnArbor.com)

  • Victor Oladipo vs. Trey Burke — There may not be a more enticing individual matchup in the conference than Burke versus Oladipo. Burke is arguably the conference’s top overall player and certainly one of the best point guards in the country. Oladipo is dynamic on both ends of the floor, but has emerged as perhaps the Big Ten’s top defender. It’s not just Burke’s scoring that impacts a game; it’s his passing, his leadership on the floor, and his ability to control a game. But Oladipo has a way of throwing everything off for an opponent. He gets in the passing lanes, makes deflections and loose balls, and makes you work just as hard to defend when he’s got the ball in his hands. Whichever player wins this head-t0-head matchup and affects the tone of the game in doing so will likely lead his team to victory.
  • Cody Zeller vs. Michigan’s Frontcourt – Zeller, the consensus choice for preseason National Player of the Year, leads Indiana in scoring (16.1 PPG) but still has been unimpressive at times. He’s often failed to assert himself in big games and down the stretch, and went through a really tough period when he scored just 11 points combined in the Michigan State and Penn State games last week. He bounced back with a 19-point, 11-rebound performance against a talented Purdue frontcourt, though, and should have an easier time against Michigan. Jordan Morgan is not exactly a huge force in the paint but has experience and logs usually between 20-25 minutes per game; he sat out the Northwestern game Wednesday because of an ankle injury. That leaves freshmen Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III — who are both talented, but inexperienced — to handle Zeller. Here’s where the Indiana big man’s experience should pay off.

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UCLA Week: Scheduling 101

Posted by AMurawa on August 16th, 2012

UCLA’s schedule was just about finalized last week when their regional matchups for the Legends Classic were announced (UC Irvine and James Madison). There are still times and television schedules that need to get cleared up, but for the most part we now know their opponents. Below, we’ll highlight a handful of games and stretches of the season that could determine the eventual fate of the 2012-13 Bruins.

Early-Season Tournament: The regional round games for the Legends Classic sure aren’t much on paper, but then again, in the last three seasons UCLA has lost in early non-conference play to Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee (2011), Montana (2010), and Cal State Fullerton and Portland (2009). In other words, while many will count UC Irvine and James Madison as wins for the Bruins, let’s actually see them get it done first. But, much more interesting are the Bruins’ games once they make the trip to Brooklyn for the Legends Classic. They’ll open the elimination portion of the tournament with a Georgetown team that features a group of talented youngsters before facing either Indiana or Georgia in the second game in as many days. Of course, everyone is eyeing that potential UCLA/Indiana matchup in the championship game, but most importantly, if everything comes together for the Bruins early, they could have two quality wins prior to Thanksgiving.

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Colorado Week: Breaking Down The Schedule

Posted by AMurawa on July 26th, 2012

While Colorado has not released an official schedule yet, they’ve released a tentative schedule with times still to be announced and dates to be finalized. Today we’ll take a quick look at their slate and figure out which games we’re most excited about.

Early-Season Tournament: After kicking things off with Wofford on November 9, the Buffaloes head to South Carolina for the Charleston Classic, an ESPN-sponsored tournament whose field this year features maybe four interesting teams. The bracket was just announced this morning and CU will open with Dayton, giving them a chance to score a solid, potentially resume-boosting win in the opening round. If things play true to form in the rest of the bracket, Colorado could get a chance at Baylor in the semifinal there, with Murray State potentially waiting in the championship game. All told, the way the bracket lays out, the Buffaloes have a chance to score three really good wins in Charleston. Of course, the flip side of that is that if the drop their opener with Dayton, they could be relegated to playing teams like Boston College and Auburn in their final two games, matchups that will do no good come March. That Dayton game will be a seriously important game for the Buffs to win.

Toughest Non-conference Game: While their early-season trip to Charleston could give them a couple good challenges, by far their toughest non-conference test will be their trip to Lawrence on December 8 to face Kansas. While Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor are gone, the Jayhawks return Jeff Withey and Elijah Johnson from last year’s Final Four team, while adding a strong 2012 freshman class and gaining the services of a couple highly regarded youngsters who were ineligible last year. Roberson and the rest of the young Colorado frontline will get a serious challenge from Withey, freshman Perry Ellis and company, but it is possible the Buffs will have the advantage in the backcourt. But, as always, regardless of who will be wearing the KU uniforms, the trip to Allen Fieldhouse alone makes it a tough trip.

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