Big Ten Wonk
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Thank you, Hawkeyes, but....
A couple weeks ago a certain college basketball writer whom Wonk respects came out with his season preview and pointedly ranked the Big Ten as inferior to Conference USA. So Wonk confesses to feeling a certain satisfaction at seeing Iowa, the consensus fifth-best team in the Big Ten, hand a 76-71 defeat to Louisville, the consensus best team in the C-USA, last night in the Maui Invitational on ESPN. (Links here, here, here, here, and here.)

That being said--and as strange as the following will sound when speaking of a Rick Pitino-coached top-15-ranked team--Louisville looked absolutely atrocious last night, at least in the part of the game that Wonk saw. I joined the action with about 18 minutes left in the second half and the Cardinals up by four. From that point on Pitino's team exhibited no ability whatsoever to read and react to what the Hawkeyes were doing. There was zero movement without the ball. Iowa's Erek Hansen was a shot-blocking beast, yes, but his task was made immeasurably simpler by Cardinals dribbling toward him on 30-foot straight-line drives. If there had been cutters moving without the ball Hansen's zealous pursuit of the block could have been used against the Hawkeyes.

Other random Wonk impressions: Jeff Horner was unconscious....Greg Brunner and Brian Cardinal share a barber....Not a good first impression of Adam Haluska: lost his man on D and allowed a three, then fired up a miss from 24 feet after one pass, then committed a charging foul.... Iowa will face Texas in a semifinal game tonight.

(BONUS Maui note: Man, did Carolina look beastly or what? Pity BYU.)

Polls in November are inherently futile. So here's one....
In the AP poll released yesterday, Wake Forest replaces Kansas as #1, Illinois moves up a notch to 5, and Michigan State edges into the top ten:

1. Wake Forest
2. Kansas
3. Georgia Tech
4. Syracuse
5. Illinois
6. Oklahoma State
7. Connecticut
8. Kentucky
9. Duke
10. Michigan State

Wisconsin moved from 21 to 20. Michigan is still lurking two or three spots outside the top 25.

Pastry shelf
Purdue hosts Detroit Mercy tonight, mindful, no doubt, that UDM claims the #25-ranked dental hygiene program in the nation.... WARNING: over-used cliche du jour ahead. Or could this be a trap game for the Boilermakers? UDM does have a home win over Southwest Missouri State to its credit already this season. And, Carl Landry aside, Purdue showed few signs of being able to play effectively in David Teague's absence while losing at Miami of Ohio Friday night.

Two reasons why Illinois should take its next game seriously
The Illini host Oakland University and the Grizzlies are not your standard November pastry: 1) Oakland's 6'7" tweener, Rawle Marshall, may play in the NBA someday soon; and 2) the Grizzlies only lost by 11 at Xavier Friday night.

True, Miami of Ohio also went to Xavier
last night and they won by 12. Safe to say Xavier's not what they were last year. Still, Wonk's point is that Oakland is no Florida A&M.

(BONUS Miami of Ohio note: thus far this season the RedHawks are shooting .667 on their three's.)

(BONUS BONUS Miami of Ohio note: "RedHawks" is not a typo but it should be. Wonk has learned from sources close to the situation that University officials plan to donate the proceeds from this year's capital campaign toward endowing a space.)

Mike Davis: pastry-free
The reason Wonk’s crack staff of analysts on the “pastry shelf” desk have not yet trained their beacon on some lightweight on the Indiana schedule is quite simple: there are no lightweights on the Indiana schedule. Leading up to the Big Ten opener on January 5, the Hoosiers will play: Indiana State, North Carolina, Connecticut, Notre Dame, Kentucky, Missouri, Charlotte, Ball State, Oral Roberts and Furman.

It's true that Indiana State and Ball State are coming off down years (
9-19 and 14-15, respectively). But Wonk has heard of them, they are in real conferences (Missouri Valley and the MAC, respectively), and they are and have for some time been Division I. And every other team on that schedule won at least 17 games last year. You are nothing if not brave, Coach Davis. Here’s hoping your RPI makes up for the L's.

EXCLUSIVE Wonk investigative report: Shame of a Nation, Day 341
The diligent professionals at the Big Ten press offices continue to maintain a link on the conference's main men's basketball page to this story: "Q&A with Kris Humphries." This was originally posted, mind you, on December 16, 2003.

Meticulous can't-be-rushed antiquarians of the Big Ten's web content group, Wonk salutes you! In fact, Wonk thinks you've got a pretty sweet gig if your boss looks to you for new content only every year or so. Watch for still more fast-breaking stories coming soon from the tireless scriveners at Big Ten HQ:

"Young, Thin and Mellow: Gene Keady Hired as New Purdue Coach"

"Buckeyes Win it All: Credit Given to Calm and Quiet Role Player, Bobby Knight"

"Traditionalists Cry Foul: Should Nets Replace Peach Baskets?"

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Ohio State will play Houston tonight in Kansas City in the semifinals of the Guardians Classic. Game preview at-a-glance here. (Link here for a briskly efficient column on the Tom Penders-coached Cougars.) Meanwhile, Buckeye coach Thad Matta's father (known to friends as Dad of Thad) proves profile-worthy in his own right here.

As noted above, Indiana will play Indiana State tonight in Bloomington. Game preview

As noted above, Purdue hosts Detroit Mercy tonight. Game previews
here and here.

Michigan State hosts Wisconsin-Green Bay tonight. Game previews
here and here. Tom Izzo says he's been having some heart-to-heart's with freshman Drew Neitzel. He should. Neitzel's line in the Florida A&M romp: 15 minutes, no points, four assists, six turnovers, fouled out.

Wisconsin hosts UC-Santa Barbara tonight. Game previews
here and here. Profile of Brian Butch here. DeAaron Williams, a freshman from Peoria, IL, has decided to redshirt this season.

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