Badgercentric has a rundown of Wisconsin’s 70-54 win in Ann Arbor. Freshman forward Jon Leuer led the Badgers with 25 points on 5-5 3-point shooting.
Penn State beat Northwestern 79-68 in Evanston. Penn State pulled down 41 of 61 rebounding opportunities. The Wildcats’ rebounding woes continue.
Indiana slipped by Iowa 79-76 in Iowa City. Eric Gordon led the way with 25 points on just 12 FG attempts. Justin Johnson hit six 3-pointers in the last two minutes for Iowa.
So three road wins to start Big Ten action–albeit against the three projected basement-dwellers. Ohio State at Illinois tomorrow night; 8:00 on ESPN.
Si.com’s Luke Winn looks at the top teams in the nation using kenpom’s adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency figures. (A brilliant idea! Just needs a scatterplot!) He puts MSU in the second tier of national title contenders (behind Duke, Marquette, and Kansas) based on their good-but-not-elite defensive efficiency ranking.
Inside the Hall has posted their MSU preview. With a 300 theme, no less.
Hoopraker runs down the prospects of all 11 Big Ten teams in conference play. On the Spartans:
Not subject to a statistical analysis is the measure of the team’s heart. Tom Izzo expects toughness and Spartan tradition demands it. To that end, the intangible measure of the Spartans’ season may rest on the talented but often inconsistent shoulders of Goran Suton. Thus far, he playing more aggressively than in seasons past and in order for the Spartans to fulfill their promise, he’ll need to maintain his focus and play with passion.
Under Izzo, Michigan State is a program run with integrity and respect for the past. At the end of the day, it’s beyond dispute this is a program worthy of emulation.
Regarding the first paragraph: Suton is certainly a key. But I’d argue his rebounding and passing are what’s paramount. Any points he scores are gravy. Izzo’s teams have always been based around the perimeter players on offense. The big men tends to get labeled as inconsistent (Paul Davis being Exhibit A). This is often because the Spartan offense isn’t designed to feed post men consistently. I’m hopeful Suton’s increased focus and aggressiveness persist into conference play–but look for the results in the rebound and assist columns, not necessarily the scoring column.
Regarding the second paragraph: An unqualified compliment from a blog capable of pointed critiques. Much appreciated, Hoopraker.