Big Ten Wonk
Friday, December 03, 2004
BONUS Friday catch-up edition
It's been a lively week, what with Wonk's 'round-the-most-convenient-parts-of-the-clock coverage of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and all, and Wonk has let even more things than usual slip through the cracks....

Wow, Wonk provides bulletin-board material
On Monday Wonk made the fatal error of starting a sentence with "One thing we do know is...." Wonk warning: never start a sentence with "One thing we do know is." It will prove only there is one thing you don't know. You could write, "One thing we do know is that John Madden will not win the swimsuit competition at the Miss World pageant," and then, lo and behold, he'd run out and get some liposuction and implants in the right places and eke out a victory over both Miss Sweden and Michael Moore. Just don't do it.

Oblivious to his own warning, Wonk, in the aftermath of the surprisingly easy victory posted by Illinois over Gonzaga, proclaimed smugly: "One thing we do know is that Gonzaga had no business being in the top 25." No doubt enraged by this post (and, perhaps, by an earlier one which lashed into the Bulldogs' hometown paper, the Spokane Spokesman-Review, for having the temerity to be a paid site), the Zags took to the court Wednesday night--while Wonk and every other person east of Coeur d' Alene was fixated on Wake Forest-Illinois--and thumped 14th-ranked Washington, 99-87.

Wonk's Senior Spokane Bureau Chief reports that the Bulldogs took the floor in a cold fury, chanting "We'll show Wonk!"

In Wonk's defense your intrepid blogger did say that Adam Morrison (game-high 26 points against the Illini and, monotonously enough, game-high 26 points against the Huskies) had game and that the Bulldogs would get better as the season went along. Just didn't know it would be this fast.

The missing links
Wonk encourages any readers who have not already done so to utilize the handy link permanently offered on this page to Ken Pomeroy's blog. Pomeroy posts on topics and questions that Wonk has been mulling in his head and tackles them with a degree of precision and savvy that makes your intrepid blogger glad he didn't fumble around with them in pixels after all. This much Wonk knew. But this week Pomeroy caught all of a game that Wonk saw only in snatches and put up a customarily outstanding post. Those who seek better blogging on the Georgia Tech-Michigan game than that found in Wonk's thin five-sentence gruel, look no further: link here.

Speaking of good links, Wonk was delighted this week to encounter a blog from a fellow Big Ten fellow who deftly takes in everyone and everything from hoops to Condi Rice. Purdue grad Matt May blogs a good game. Link here for a great Bruce Weber story based on Matt's own personal experience: it's Mean Joe Greene Coke commercial-good. And link here for a simile whose time has come: Peter Jennings as Yoda. Keep the good stuff coming, Matt!

Head-case clarification
Your intrepid blogger's Wednesday post on the Duke-Michigan State game noted that, after a fantastic first eight minutes, Wonk All-Head-Case first-teamer Paul Davis "disappeared for the balance of the game." Alert reader Dave N. wrote in to say I was being too hard on Davis. After all, Dave pointed out, the big guy can't make the plays if he doesn't get the touches. Wonk agrees! My point was that what I called "this generation of Spartans" has a habit of disappearing en masse, as it were, and that State needs a player who can impose Izzo's will on the floor--a will that, certainly, would include getting more touches for a post player who's started the game red-hot.

Only college hoops blog with regular Crispin Glover updates
Yesterday Wonk strayed from his Big Ten beat long enough to remark that North Carolina's Rashad McCants is a head case and that in fact he "is out there in Crispin Glover territory." Known primarily for his portrayal of George McFly in Back to the Future, Glover cemented his reputation for all time as a head-case's head-case in an infamous 1987 interview with David Letterman in which he wore a wig and platform shoes and, more to the point, came within inches of kicking Letterman in the face.

This much Wonk knew. But now alert reader Shawn M., who bids fair to join alert readers Dave N. and Jason H. as a regular contributor to this blog, points out that Glover actually recorded an album in 1989, The Big Problem Does Not Equal the Solution. Tracks include Glover's cover of "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," "Never Say 'Never' to Always," and Wonk's personal favorite after a long day, "Selected Readings from Rat Catching." Enjoy!

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Preseason All-Wonk selection Lester Abram of Michigan underwent an MRI on his left shoulder yesterday. (Link here.) Abram has missed four games thus far this season. (The Wolverines host Notre Dame tomorrow.)

Purdue hosts Memphis tonight (game previews here and here). Meanwhile, Wonk salutes Purdue guard David Teague, winner of today's Blinding Flash of the Obvious Award. Shooting .120 from the field (not a typo, nor even a good batting average) since returning from a broken hand, Teague states with appropriate insider knowledge, "Our offensive execution is not where we want it to be right now."

Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News has a very good farewell profile of Purdue coach Gene Keady here.

Iowa hosts Centenary tonight in the opening round of the Hawkeye Challenge, an event being talked about in the state of Iowa primarily because it marks the return of former Iowa State coach Larry Eustachy, back in the neighborhood as the coach of Southern Mississippi. See the Hawkeye Hoops blog for this Challenge preview; previews of tonight's game here and here.

Penn State hosts Lock Haven tonight, as seen yesterday in this blog's "pasty shelf" feature. Additional (i.e., real) game preview here.

Continuing its year-long tribute to the nonconference schedule played by Tom Izzo in 2003-04, Indiana plays at Connecticut tomorrow. Meanwhile, indefatigable Indiana beat writer Terry Hutchens of the Indianapolis Star is out with the latest installment of his excellent Q&A forum here. (Hoosier fans are still obsessed with why local boy Sean May didn't choose Indiana--three years after the fact. Wonk imagines morose and pathetic Indiana fans engaging that estimable and time-honored college breakup activity, the drink-and-dial: calling May at 2 in the morning and insisting they can still make things work out.)

Illinois plays Arkansas tomorrow at Alltel Arena in North Little Rock. Get your feet-on-the-ground-themed day-before game previews here and here.

Michigan State faces George Washington in the opening round of the BB&T Classic at the MCI Center in Washington DC tomorrow. (Day-before game preview here.) A win would set up a likely meeting with Maryland on Sunday.

Luke Winn of says that with their win Tuesday night over a tough Maryland team, Wisconsin proved they will be in the hunt for the Big Ten title. The Badgers play at Rutgers tomorrow.

Other games tomorrow: Minnesota hosts Holy Cross and Northwestern hosts Chicago State.

Jay Bilas has his wrap on the ACC/Big Ten Challenge filed inside the paid portion of Read the first three paragraphs free of charge here. (If any of Wonk's alert readers subscribe and if I'm missing anything good, please let me know.)

Gregg Doyel of cbs.sportsline is out with his ACC/Big Ten Challenge wrap and says: Michigan State's Drew Neitzel is not ready for prime time; Wisconsin's backcourt is going to be OK after all, Pepperdine notwithstanding; Indiana is a mid-major in a major conference; Illinois has the best backcourt in the nation; and Ohio State guard and Clemson transfer Tony Stockman has matured into a senior leader.

Rabid anti-ACC conspiracy theorists take note! Illinois tops Dick Vitale's list of most impressive performers in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Wow. Two places above Duke on Dookie V's list. Wonk has rubbed his eyes and looked at it three times but it really appears to be so. EXCLUSIVE Wonk forecast of the next equally epochal paradigm-shifting occurrence. Four words: Billy Packer, "American Idol."

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