With the slew of top-notch nonconference match-ups in the Big Ten yesterday, I thought I’d find out what other Big Ten basketball bloggers had to say about their teams’ performances. Also, check out spartalytical’s run-down of some of yesterday’s college hoops action.
#24 Arizona 78 Illinois 72 (OT) (Chicago: United Center)
Illinois wasted Shaun Pruitt’s 24 points on 10-11 FG shooting,. They led for the first 39 minutes, only to lose the lead in the last minute of regulation and lose the game in overtime. Illinitalk admirably focuses on the positive:
- A quick start. Pruitt made his first two free throws to get the Illini on the board, and he and Randle each scored 6 points before Arizona scored any.
- Forcing turnovers. In the first half, the Illini defense kept Arizona down, and a few key steals in the final minutes gave our boys a couple chances to close out the game. (We just didn’t need to even up that stat with our own turnovers in the second half.)
- Passing. The Illini continue to make the extra pass for open shots, and we saw some beautiful assists. (I just hate to see that extra pass go through someone’s hands.)
- Pruitt. He had a great game, despite the sprained ankle he suffered this week.
#7 Duke 95 Michigan 67 (Durham)
From what I saw of this game, Michigan played with a bit of gumption unseen during the Amaker years but Duke was just too darn good. Hard to play Beilein’s trapping zone defense against a team full of guys who can pass over the defense AND shoot three-pointers. Duke knocked down 11 of 27 3-point attempts (40.7%). Michigan Against the World provides a detailed account of the “pain and suffering” (his words) and concludes thusly:
1) This team was not Amaker incompetent today. There is an offensive system, and it generally worked. In the second half, shots started falling, which is why the team was able to score 19 more second half points. If a few more shots would have fallen in the first half, maybe it’s a closer game.
2) The lack of depth is going to doom this team this year. There are a clear top three on the court (Sims, Grady, Harris), then three more players who different things, but are generally at the same talent level (which I will dub “meh”). Beyond that, it’s kind of frightening. The team wore out, and was moving noticeably slower in the last ten minutes. Duke exploited that by running and moving the ball as much as possible. It’s a safe bet that coaches like Izzo and Sampson and the rest noticed this.
3) This was the wrong year for this schedule. Michigan now sits at 3-6. There are three more non-conference games, one of which is UCLA (read that as “automatic loss”), followed by 18 conference tilts. The only tournament hopes here are to improve throughout the year and make a Big Ten Tournament run as a 7th or 8th seed. The NIT is probably only a 50/50 proposition at this point. Unlike the last two years, however, the NIT would be a nice result.
#15 Indiana 70 Kentucky 51 (Bloomington)
Less-heralded younger brother Jordan Crawford of IU upstaged big brother Joe of Kentucky (one-time Mr. Basketball runner-up to Mr. Neitzel), outscoring him 20-10 on the strength of 3-5 3-point shooting. Inside the Hall was impressed with his performance:
After Saturday, I think it’s clear that Crawford has the potential to be an every-play point guard on this team. He still has those freshman faults — too much lateral movement against the full court press, too many traps in the corner of the half-court, etc. But he also has a fully realized skill set. He’s great at attacking the basket, can shoot from the perimeter well, is athletic and big enough to guard opposing studs … he can do it all. It looks like he and Armon will complement each other really well in the next couple of years, each one doing some of the things the other can’t. That gives the Hoosiers plenty of guard depth to look forward to.
#15 Marquette 81 #23 Wisconsin 76 (Madison)
The Golden Eagles lived up to coach Tom Crean’s Izzo-ine lineage by pulling down 21 of 39 offensive rebounding opportunities (53.8%). And Wisconsin uncharacteristically turned the ball over 18 times in 70 possessions (25.7%). Couldn’t find a Wisconsin hoops blog of the non-MSM variety, so here’s the Big East Basketball Report’s summary of the game:
The battle of Wisconsin went to the Big East with MU 81, UW 76 (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) as Eagles end Badgers’ home streak. Junior point guard Dominic James, who finished with a game highs in scoring (20 points) and assists (six) and set the tone for the game early with his ability to get into the lane at will and make plays.