Big Ten Wonk
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Wonk directs your attention to a rare instance where he was right
Ohio State opened its regular season last night with a 74-53 victory over Towson, making coach Thad Matta 1-0 for his career with the Buckeyes. Preseason All-Wonk Team selection Terence Dials scored 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting and pulled down six boards.

FLASH: Events prove Wonk wrong. Wonk wife "not at all surprised."
Meanwhile, Preseason All-Wonk Team selection Lester Abram went 2-of-12 from the field in Michigan's 59-46 win over Binghamton in the Preseason NIT. (Links here and here.) And did not Daniel Horton, a Wonk Preseason All-Head-Case selection, also make your intrepid blogger look foolish in the opposite direction with his 17 points, including 4-of-7 on his three's? Kinda, but Horton also coughed up a Pierre Pierce-esque seven turnovers against the pesky Bearcats. "I look past those turnovers because of how hard he was competing," said coach Tommy Amaker after the game. Verily, Wonk says: watch the Horton.

While draining a notable 21-of-23 free throws, Michigan held Binghamton to .273 shooting from the field and just 14 second-half points. Over at College Basketball Blog,
Yoni knows a good deal more about Binghamton than does Wonk and tut-tuts the Wolverines for trailing 27-12 in this one early.

Glass-is-half-full headline-writers of the Detroit News, Wonk salutes you!
Horton was yanked by Amaker when he picked up his fourth foul with ten minutes to go in the game. Unburdened by the junior guard's turnovers and fouls, Michigan promptly pushed a five-point lead into double-digits and cruised to victory. We learn all this from a News "Notebook" entry headlined: "Horton's faith in team rewarded."

Iconoclastic photo editors of the Detroit News, Wonk salutes you!
The Detroit News is out with its Big Ten preview today, guaranteed to be the only conference preview you see that opens with a feature-subject-sized photo of...Minnesota's Jeff Hagen. Gamely resisting the Hagen-mania so rampant at the News, Jim Spadafore picks Illinois, Michigan State and Wisconsin to go 1-2-3. His predicted 14-2 conference record for the Illini, however, feels a little inflated to Wonk.

Penn State fan (note: singular) seen chanting: "We want South Carolina State!"
Coming off a loss the previous evening to Illinois State, the Nittany Lions defeated Western Carolina, 78-63, in the second evening of play in the Black Coaches Association Classic in Milwaukee. Penn State will face South Carolina State in tonight's fifth-place game. (You read that correctly: there is a fifth-place game.)

Link here for a glimpse of what is fast becoming a veritable visual cliche: the Nittany Lions in their road blues disappearing amidst a sea of empty blue seats in the background, not unlike the character in "Arrested Development" who's simultaneously auditioning for the Blue Man Group and utilizing naturally occurring urban camouflage to track his errant spouse's movements.

NCAA Tournament bracket projections in November are futile. So here's one....
Joe Lunardi is out with his first installment of Bracketology on His 1-seeds: North Carolina, Kentucky, Illinois, and Kansas. Lunardi projects four bids for the Big Ten: the Illini, Michigan State (3-seed), Wisconsin (5), and Michigan (8).

Wonk gives Lunardi points for courage: one might just as well attempt to divine what derivative straight-to-video release Ben Stiller will inflict upon us next March as try to slot all 65 teams in each region correctly four months out.

BONUS Thad Matta note
Readers of this space know of Wonk’s sterling reputation for journalistic integrity and even-handed fairness. But what fun is that? So here’s the deal. First-year Ohio State coach Thad Matta is beloved of Wonk because he is a fellow native of central Illinois. Matta hails from Hoopeston, whose sports teams are indelibly known as the Cornjerkers. Watch for notably homer kid-gloves treatment of Matta by the sometimes acerbic Wonk. (Draft headline: "Wonk, Matta seen as charismatic and magnetic by many; Dynamic 'central Illinois effect' cited.")

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
All-Wonk Team selection T.J. Parker of Northwestern has been hanging with big brother Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs and working on his shot, says Brian Hanley of the Chicago Sun-Times in this Wildcat season preview.

Illinois coach Bruce Weber underwent an appendectomy yesterday. He's OK and is expected to be back on the sidelines for the Illini's regular season opener against Delaware State Friday. (Links
here, here, here, and here for Wonk's more clinically-inclined readers.) The medical news spooked the AP's pollsters, apparently, for Wonk can think of no other reason why the Illini would go from #5 last week to #6 in this week's poll without having played a game. Now if Weber is caught on tape tumbling down some steps in a Castro-esque display of enfeebled senescence, watch for Illinois to drop out of the top 25 entirely.

The Detroit News previews Michigan State's season

Wisconsin plays its final exhibition tonight against Division III Wisconsin-Platteville. Game previews
here and here.

Minnesota senior guard Adam Boone has
filed an appeal with the NCAA for an additional year of eligibility. Boone is recovering from surgery to repair a torn bicep tendon.

Wonk back!
Don't just mutter ineffectually; email me!

Yesterday, in the latest in a series of attempts at humor that seem downright Shavian at 5:38am with no one else around, Wonk wondered aloud whether Laval University of Quebec was a "Division Deux" school. Leave it to Wonk's perceptive and knowledgeable readers to supply the answer:

As you can see, Laval is listed as #913
here. Their division designation is CIS which stands for Canadian Interuniversity Sport.

Thanks for all your work, keep it up.
--Kevin R.

Mon dieu! Wonk's readers are so well informed they know the most arcane intricacies of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport! And at last Wonk knows the origin of the hitherto inscrutable chant so often heard at Laval home games: "Nous sommes nombre neuf-treize! Nous sommes nombre neuf-treize!" Merci, Kevin!

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