Big Ten Wonk
Monday, January 22, 2007
As it stands this morning....
Wisconsin is winning ugly--but winning. In conference games the Badgers are last in the Big Ten in three-point shooting by a country mile, having posted an Edvard Munch-level horrific 22.8 3FG percentage. Bo Ryan's team is going to see a lot of paint-packing from opposing D's for the foreseeable future.

Indiana is winning, period. And never mind Kelvin Sampson's reputation for tough D because these Hoosiers are doing it with offense--more specifically with threes. Saturday's win against Connecticut doesn't show up in our conference numbers, of course, but it's representative nonetheless. The Huskies actually fared quite well offensively (1.14 points per possession)--and dominated their offensive glass--but they simply couldn't keep up with Indiana's hot shooting.

Michigan looks beautiful on paper but no one's talking about them. No one should be talking. Yet. They looked awful losing on the road to Purdue and their only road win's been at Northwestern. But the Wolverines have it within their power to get people talking this week: they play at Wisconsin Wednesday night and at Indiana Saturday.

Penn State is on pace to set a new standard for defensive futility. The Nittany Lions are already last in the Big Ten by a wide margin in points allowed per possession. But here's the scary part: Penn State still has to play road games at Ohio State, at Wisconsin, and at Indiana. Ye gods....

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Before yesterday's NFC and AFC championship games in the heart of Big Ten country....

The weekend in hoops--Saturday!
Wisconsin beat Illinois 71-64 in Champaign. The Illini led this game 62-61 with a little more than two minutes remaining but the Badgers put the contest away with a 10-2 run. For the second consecutive game Wisconsin benefited from the scoring of a hitherto little-noticed player. Against Purdue it was Jason Chappell. Against Illinois it was Greg Stiemsma: 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Kammron Taylor made just 2-of-7 threes but went 8-of-8 at the line to lead the Badgers with 20 points. Shaun Pruitt posted a 19-14 dub-dub for the Illini. (Box score.)

Indiana beat Connecticut 77-73 in Hartford. The Hoosiers led by as many as 14 early in the first half but the Huskies reeled the visitors in by the under-4 timeout before halftime and it was close from there on out. Roderick Wilmont scored 23 points and made 5-of-8 threes, including one from NBA-range with 1:54 left in the game and IU down two. Threes won this game for the Hoosiers (they went 9-of-18) because UConn was meanwhile doing things to Kelvin Sampson's team on the boards that no team has done this year, to wit: 19 offensive boards for the Huskies in 35 chances. (Box score.)

Ohio State beat Iowa 82-63 in Columbus. This was closer for longer than the final might indicate--the Buckeyes led by just four with 11 minutes to play. But on a night when the home team's threes weren't falling (6-of-20), Greg Oden dominated, to the tune of a 29-10 dub-dub on 12-of-13 shooting. Mike Conley recorded 10 assists and three turnovers. Tyler Smith led the Hawkeyes with 21 not-especially efficient points on 19 shots. (Box score.)

Michigan beat Purdue 71-55 in Ann Arbor. Dion Harris made 5-of-7 threes and led the Wolverines with 21 points. David Teague and Carl Landry each scored 15 for the Boilermakers--Teague did so on the strength of six offensive boards. Indeed, Michigan was actually beaten to a pulp on their defensive glass in this game but it didn't matter because their shots were falling and the Boilers' weren't. (Box score.)

Northwestern beat Minnesota 55-40 in Minneapolis. Slow game or good D by the Wildcats? Both! In a game with only 52 possessions, the Gophers shot 19 threes over NU's zone and missed 16 of them. Vince Scott scored 15 for the visitors and Kevin Coble, who'd been sidelined for two games with a sprained ankle, returned to action and added 13 points. Lawrence McKenzie led Minnesota with 15 points on 16 shots. (Box score.)

Michigan State beat Penn State 91-64 in State College. The Spartans got into the 90s despite the fact that this game was by no means fast, clocking in at just 63 possessions. Ridiculously good shooting will do that: MSU made 30 of 41 twos, led by combined 13-of-14 shooting by Goran Suton and Marquise Gray. Drew Neitzel led all scorers with 28 points. Jamelle Cornley posted 21 points on 16 shots for PSU. (Box score.)

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