Michigan 49 Illinois 43
I can only hope this week’s results will boost MSU well above the Illini in the offensive points-per-possession category for good; the two were tied at 1.01 (in conference play) before this week’s action. UMHoops says rebounding was a key and recaps Jalen Rose’s comments to the Crisler crowd. Sample:
Every time you see the black shoes, the black socks, the baggy shorts, the Fab Five lives. I’ll be back one day when those banners get hung.
As much as the Fab Five could be grating to basketball traditionalists (I’ll always remember the distinct contrast of their baggy, yellow uniforms against the green and white background as they swaggered out on to the floor of the Breslin Center), Rose was the one guy you had to respect for the brilliance with which he played the game.
Indiana 85 Northwestern 82
Northwestern almost pulled off their first conference win of the year in style. They held a 1-point lead with 2 minutes to go before IU made 8 of 8 free throw attempts to pull out the victory in Dan Dakich’s first time out as interim head coach. Inside the Hall has the key stats: “Indiana out-rebounded Northwestern 35-18 and hit 30 of 37 free throws.” Kevin Coble put up a career-high 37 points on 5-6 3-point shooting for the Wildcats. Based on a one-game sample, it appears the departure of Sampson may hurt IU more on the defensive end than the offensive end, where they can rely on the supreme talents of Gordon and White. Of course, given the off-court turmoil and lack of practice time this team dealt with the last few days, it’s probably not wise to read too much into a single game.
Tennessee 66 Memphis 62
I’ve granted this game a special exemption to be included in the Big Ten Roundup since (1) it was #1 vs. #2 and (2) I watched the last ten minutes. And an entertaining ten minutes it was. Two talented, up-tempo teams letting it all hang out. From a statistical standpoint, though, I’d note that neither team reached the point-per-possession mark (it was a 67-possession game). Big Ten teams generally look less talented on offense to the naked eye than teams from the other power conferences, but they also take a lot fewer bad shots. This can cause games to be played at a slower pace and has led, I think, to a somewhat undeserved reputation for the conference being offensively challenged.
Minnesota 75 Penn State 68
The Gophers take care of business at home to get to .500 in conference play (7-7). Paging Jim S says the Gophers were able to come back from a early deficit by playing more aggressively on both ends of the floor. Lawrence Westbrook led the way for the Gophers with 15 points on 7 FG attempts.
Wisconsin 58 Ohio State 53
Both teams played hard in this one from start to finish, reflecting the importance of the game to both squads. The game was tied 32-32 at the half. Neither team could sustain consistent scoring down the stretch in the second half. Jamar Butler couldn’t shoulder the load of initiating the offense for the entire game, as he missed his final 5 FG attempts. Wisconsin, meanwhile, managed to eke out enough points to pull away in the final 7 minutes by finding seams in the Ohio State zone.
At 17-10 overall and 8-6 in the conference, the Buckeyes now have a tough path to secure an NCAA slot. Their final four games are as follows: at IU, at Minnesota, home to Purdue, home to MSU. Wisconsin’s game against MSU on Thursday, meanwhile, now becomes the Badgers’ single significant obstacle to securing at least a share of the Big Ten title. Their final two games are home to Penn State and on the road at Northwestern.
Update: Badgercentric says the key play of the game was a Michael Flowers steal and layup to tie the game at 49. Flowers finished with 14 points, 6 assists, and 2 steals.
Another Big Ten-Related Link of Interest
The Artist Formerly Knows as the Big Ten Wonk (TAFKATBTW) put aside statistical analysis and delved into the minutiae of NCAA violations and college basketball coaching contracts, in the context of the Jim O’Brien and Kelvin Sampson cases. His conclusion:
In addition to viewing O’Brien’s lawsuit as a cautionary tale, then, athletic directors should also view the Ohio State program’s instant renaissance as both a hopeful parable and as a cudgel to wield at the bargaining table against grasping coaches. Contracts should be structured on the empirically unassailable truth that there are many more excellent coaches than there are excellent coaching positions. Such contracts should also include provision for paid suspension in the event of an NCAA Notice of Allegations. Indiana didn’t have such a clause in Sampson’s contract, so they employed him for two games longer than they should have.
Division 1 college basketball (and football) has certainly become a bizarre little legal universe.
And an MSU Link for Good Measure
Joe Rexrode commends Izzo for the “decisions to go to fullcourt pressure with more subbing and emphasis on running” this week. Thinking about yesterday’s game, it seemed like Iowa put less defensive pressure on our perimeter players than I expected (although I didn’t see the first Iowa game, so I can’t say how it compared). One reason for this could be that our guards wore their guards down when Iowa had the ball. So pressuring the ball could have benefits even if it doesn’t directly create turnovers. I also wonder if Izzo isn’t using more players in anticipation of trying to use MSU’s depth to make a run at the Big Ten Tournament championship, where the winner will need to win 3 games in 3 days. In both games this week, 9 players played 13 minutes or more. Izzo depth, baby!