Big Ten Wonk
Thursday, December 30, 2004
BONUS final abnormal edition
Wonk is climbing in the car tomorrow with the Wonk Family and returning home. There will be no post tomorrow.

COMING Monday....
Special return-of-full-strength-Wonk edition, featuring:

A chat with Jeff Shelman. The indefatigable Shelman not only posts frequently and insightfully on college hoops for, he also covers the Minnesota Golden Gophers for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Updated PPWS numbers for the best and worst of 60-odd Big Ten starters and key reserves. Will Dee Brown still be number 1? Will David Teague still be anchor man? Tune in Monday!

The season's last match up of undefeateds?
Wonk has long admired indefatigable Illini beat writer Mark Tupper of the Decatur Herald & Review. In April 2003, for example, I learned 48 hours in advance of the fact that Bill Self would be leaving Illinois from the inferences and ellipses imparted deftly yet unmistakably by a classic Tupper column.

So it's good news to find that Tupper has a blog (more precisely, a blog-themed running post hosted within the Herald & Review site). Regarding tomorrow's clash in Vegas between Illinois and Cincinnati, Tupper says the backstory for the game goes beyond the fact that the Illini bounced the Bearcats out of the NCAA's last year:

I think Bob Huggins was embarrassed--and ticked off--after last season’s NCAA Tournament rout. He didn’t like the way his team played and he hated it that Illinois said trash talking prior to the game got them riled up. You can bet Huggins will create some kind of motivation beyond mere revenge.

Should be a good game.

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Wisconsin beat Alabama 76-62 in Madison last night. (Links here and here.) Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal says last night's victory suggests the Badgers' bigs are ready for Big Ten play. Wonk says the Bo Ryan template may at last be returning, even in the absence of Devin Harris. The Crimson Tide shot .444 on the road and outrebounded the Badgers--and lost by 14. Wisconsin turned the ball over just five times.

Michigan State beat North Carolina-Asheville 92-63 in East Lansing last night. (Links here, here, and here.)

Michigan beat Delaware State 66-48 in Ann Arbor last night. (Links here and here.)

Minnesota beat North Carolina-Greensboro 94-59 in Minneapolis last night. (Link here.)

Penn State beat Long Island 80-56 last night in the consolation game of the ASU/ Hoops Classic in Tempe, Arizona. (Link here.)

Illinois plays Northwestern State at Valley High School in Las Vegas tonight in the Vegas Holiday Classic. (Links here, here, and here.)

Purdue hosts Baylor tonight. (Links here and here.)

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