Big Ten Wonk
Sunday, March 11, 2007
This morning's 11 pieces of conventional wisdom
Subject to significant revision this evening at 6 (ET)....

Ohio State: mortal lock for a 1-seed and likely already slotted in the Midwest regional—a win today would remove all doubt.

Wisconsin: thought to still be alive for a 1-seed, depending on events surrounding North Carolina and Florida today—and, of course, the Badgers' game today against the Buckeyes.

Indiana: early exit late Friday night may have the Hoosiers looking at a double-digit seed. (Good news! No 1-seed in the second round.)

Michigan State: though the Spartans finished two games behind Indiana in the standings, they played a tougher schedule—and so may end up with a slightly higher seed than the Hoosiers. (Bad news! Brings up a 1-seed in the second round.)

Illinois: rooting really hard for North Carolina and Florida today in their games against NC State and Arkansas, respectively. Go Heels! Go Gators!

Purdue: see "Illinois," above.

Michigan: the players, already well-acquainted with the NIT and headed there yet again, are defending their coach.

Iowa: if there's an NIT bubble the Hawks are on it.

Minnesota: watching the tournament closely, looking to see who the hot mid-major coach will be this year. Like Bruce Pearl in 2005. Thad Matta in 2004. Bill Self in 2000. Dan Monson in 1999. (Hey, wait a minute....)

Northwestern: pinning their hopes on Kevin Coble and the future.

Penn State: still a very respectable offense in search of a defense.

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Ohio State beat Purdue 63-52 yesterday. Greg Oden notched the rare ascending-numbers dub-dub with a 17-19 in 32 minutes. (That's my POY!) Carl Landry scored 24 points on 16 shots for the Boilers. The Buckeyes have played 122 possessions in Chicago this weekend and given the ball away just 13 times. If they can get some threes to fall, this offense can be lethal. Consider: Ohio State players not named "Greg Oden" attempted 51 shots yesterday and missed 36 of them. And the Buckeyes won by 11. My audacious November headline's looking less wacky. (Box score.)

Wisconsin beat Illinois 53-41 yesterday in a 56-possession game. For the Illini, only the Ohio State game in January was uglier, both visually and numerically. Illinois attempted 28 two-point shots and made eight. Eight. A number so low you can spell it. Alando Tucker scored 21 points on 17 shots. The Illini depart Chicago having shot 59 percent on their free throws this weekend. (Box score.)

(2) Wisconsin vs. (1) Ohio State (CBS, 3:30 ET)
How sweet would it be if these two played four times this year?

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Indiana's (allegedly) good offense
For a team that scores as efficiently as Indiana does, they do go through some absolutely brutal stretches without making a field goal. I can't be certain but I thought I counted six-, five-, and four-minute stretches against Illinois without any field goals.

How can the team be so good and so bad all at the same time?

Mike P.

No offense looks good in every game. Georgetown has arguably the best offense in the nation this year and the one game of theirs I've seen start to finish was their loss at Syracuse, where they scored 58 points in 71 possessions. But taking in the season as a whole, the Hoosiers did indeed have the best offense in the Big Ten, thanks to outstanding perimeter shooting. Believe it.

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