Big Ten Wonk
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Individually wrapped
Player stats have been updated. They're tempo-free! They're current through January 10! They're excerpted here! (12+ minutes per game.)

Scoring efficiency: PPWS (complete list)
1. Errek Suhr, Indiana (1.62)
2. Je'Kel Foster, Ohio State (1.61)
3. Jamal Abu-Shamala, Minnesota (1.57)
4. Jamar Smith, Illinois (1.45)
5. Marshall Strickland, Indiana (1.41)

Suhr is about to disappear from this leader board--because he's about to drop below the 12 minute per game limit.

Rebounding pct. (complete list)
1. Graham Brown, Michigan (20.6)
2. Paul Davis, Michigan State (19.3)
3. Marquise Gray, Michigan State (17.5)
4. Courtney Sims, Michigan (17.4)
5. James Augustine, Illinois (17.3)

Watch out (in a good way) if he gets enough minutes: Marcus White of Purdue clocks in at 20.3.

Offensive rebounding (oreb pct.)
1. Marquise Gray, Michigan State (14.8)
2. Courtney Sims, Michigan (14.5)
3. Graham Brown, Michigan (13.7)
4. J'son Stamper, Minnesota (13.2)
5. Warren Carter, Illinois (13.2)

Bit of an optical illusion: Carter barely makes the minutes cutoff; Gary Ware of Purdue (15.3) barely misses it.

Defensive rebounding (dreb pct.)
1. Graham Brown, Michigan (26.5)
2. Paul Davis, Michigan State (24.9)
3. Greg Brunner, Iowa (22.3)
4. Marco Killingsworth, Indiana (22.1)
5. James Augustine, Illinois (21.8)

Watch out (in a good way) if he gets enough minutes: Jonathan Williams of Minnesota clocks in at 25.8.

Assists per 100 possessions (complete list)
1. Jeff Horner, Iowa (10.6)
2. Daniel Horton, Michigan (10.1)
3. Jerret Smith, Michigan (10.1)
4. Jamar Butler, Ohio State (9.9)
5. Drew Neitzel, Michigan State (9.8)

Watch out (in a good way) if he gets enough minutes: Chester Frazier of Illinois clocks in at 10.2 assists per 100 possessions.

Turnovers per 100 possessions (from worst to best--complete list)
1. Marco Killingsworth, Indiana (8.8)
2. Rico Tucker, Minnesota (8.2)
3. Courtney Sims, Michigan (6.7)
4. Jerret Smith, Michigan (6.3)
5. Korey Spates, Purdue (6.2)

Watch out (in a not so good way) if he gets enough minutes: the aforementioned Marcus White of Purdue clocks in at 14.1 TOs per 100 possessions (ye gods).

BONUS individual wrappings! Canonical blogger Ryan Kobliska has posted individual numbers for Big Ten leaders on both the offensive and defensive side. You'll learn that Rico Tucker and Vincent Grier put the "fun" in "fundamentally felonious"! Plus--the admirably efficient Paul Davis has just a hint of Courtney Sims in him: his bad games aren't inefficient per se; rather, his sub par outings are characterized by total silence. Lastly--two words: Matt Kiefer. When did he become Je'Kel Foster? Make haste!

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Wisconsin beat Minnesota 64-62 in Minneapolis last night. The Gophers went almost 16 minutes without a field goal in the first half and consequently the Badgers led 25-6. But Bo Ryan's team then defined "uncharacteristic" by coughing up seven TOs in just three minutes heading into halftime. UW came into this game doing a superb job of holding on to the ball--but they gave the rock away 22 times last night in a 75 possession game. (Kammron Taylor alone had seven TOs.) It kept the Gophers in the game on a night when they couldn't sink any shots. "We showed great character," Vincent Grier said afterward. "Even though it's a loss, it's something to build on. We definitely played great defense." Yes, but it wasn't enough and Minnesota guard Moe Hargrow knew it: "I kind of hate moral victories." Ryan said he was "proud" of how his young team performed in a road game on only one day of rest. Freshman Joe Krabbenhoft looked notably poised sinking two clutch free throws for UW in the final minute. Grier had a 17-11 dub-dub for the home team. Alando Tucker joined that club with a 22-10 effort for Wisconsin but needed 23 FGAs to do it and was 0-of-6 at the line in a tight game. (Watch this. Tucker is officially verging on hack-a-dude territory. Ryan says Tucker is "frustrated on not being able to help the team by making free throws.") Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan says the Gophers look "erratic on the perimeter and shallow inside." For more, see the spanking good blogger recaps here and here from Gopher Hoops and Golden Gopher Hoops, respectively. (Box score.)

Michigan State plays Indiana tonight in East Lansing (ESPN, 7 ET). The Hoosiers will be without the services of big man D.J. White, who injured his left foot in Saturday's win against Ohio State and is out indefinitely. At cbs.sportsline this morning, Gregg Doyel says losing White "will knock the Hoosiers from the short list of serious NCAA championship contenders." Indefatigable Hoosier beat writer Terry Hutchens of the Indianapolis Star ponders IU's near future without White here. As for the home team, Spartan coach Tom Izzo has this to say about his team's 0-2 start in conference: "I'm not sure many people expected us to win one or two of those games, but we expected to play a lot better than we did." Specifically, Izzo says he's unhappy with his team's performance on offense: "I don't think we're moving the ball. We looked like a team that stood around, didn't screen, wasn't very organized." (What about the much-maligned D? "Much better," by Izzo's lights.)

Purdue plays Ohio State in West Lafayette tonight. Boiler coach Matt Painter isn't happy with the way his team's been taking care of the ball: "At times, we could commit 20 turnovers against a room full of furniture."

Northwestern plays Penn State tonight in Evanston. Wildcat coach Bill Carmody says he's pleased with the play of freshman guards Sterling Williams and Craig Moore. Nittany Lion coach Ed DeChellis sounds virtually Painter-esque and says his team has to limit its turnovers: "You've got to play every possession like it's the last one."

Illinois freshman PPWS sensation Jamar Smith is profiled here.

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Spartan no like unbalanced scheduling....
Esteemed Wonk,

As a Spartan booster, I'm trying not to get too far down right now. But it's hard not to, and it's not primarily a function of (1) the 0-2 start in the two toughest places to play in the conference or (2) the disturbingly poor play of Mr. Ager and Mr. Davis. Rather, it's the fact that the conference schedule is so stacked against MSU's effort to make up the two games they're now down against Wisconsin in the standings.

Let's compare the two teams' respective 16-game conference schedules. They play each other twice, home and away, so we'll throw out those games. Out of the remaining 14 games, 10 of the games are the same (they both play Iowa at home, Minnesota on the road, etc.). Here are the four games each team plays that the other doesn't:

Home to Northwestern
AT Purdue
AT Penn State
Home to Minnesota

AT Illinois
Home to Purdue
Home to Michigan
AT Indiana

I think any reasonable observer would agree that this comparison gave at least a two-game advantage (AT Illinois and AT Indiana) to Wisconsin even before conference play started. And I'd rather play Northwestern or Minnesota at home than Michigan this season. Now MSU has already suffered the results of having to play Illinois on the road, but the road game against IU essentially puts them three down against Wisconsin right now. You can argue that MSU simply has to take care of business in Bloomington, but that's a (large) burden they face that Wisconsin won't have to face this year.

I understand that because the NCAA Tournament is king these days (which has generally been a good thing for MSU), there's no chance the league will go to a full round-robin, 20-game schedule (since this would result in Big Ten teams knocking each other's records down even more than they do now). I just don't see how we can go on, though, awarding conference championships to teams that are based to a large degree on random scheduling differences. Adding a 12th team would at least result in balanced schedules within two six-team divisions, but the addition of a school to the conference doesn't seem too likely in the near future.

Down-in-spirit in Lansing
Kyle J.

Thanks, Kyle. How 'bout it, alert readers? Should the Big Ten add a 12th member? And, if so, who should it be? I await your thoughts.

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