Latest Big Ten Geeks News

Big Ten Geeks: The Buckeyes Strike Back

With Keith Appling draped all over him, William Buford hit an absolute dagger of a shot to help Ohio State down Michigan State and ensure a three-way tie atop the Big Ten conference for the season. While that makes banner manufacturers very happy, it was not the result the Spartans were expecting after they found themselves up by 9 after the first half. Ohio State won this game by keeping MSU off the glass, getting to the free throw line, and by the excellent work by whoever had the job of talking Buford into coming back to school every May. With Jared Sullinger largely ineffective, Buford put the Buckeyes on his back, carrying them with 25 points on 14 shots.

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Mr. Green Goes to Bloomington

Draymond Green showed just how good he is in a loss to the Hoosiers, but he also proved that no one is good enough to beat Indiana at home by himself. Green racked up 29 points on 17 shots while his Michigan State teammates poured in 26 points on 34 shots. Against IU at Assembly Hall, that’s tough to overcome. The home/road splits for this team in conference play are stunning:

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Big Ten Geeks: Purdue, the anti-Purdue

With Saturday’s win over Michigan, Purdue has seemingly punched its ticket to the Dance. At 9-7 in conference play, the Boilermakers are probably right where most expected them to finish this season–still solidly in the field of 68, but not a serious contender for the conference championship. But how they got to this point is very unexpected. Ever since the Baby Boilers arrived at West Lafayette, defense has been the calling card of this team:

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Big Ten Geeks: Minnesota's Bubble Bursts

Another night, another set of at-large hopes dashed. On Wednesday evening, Minnesota hoped to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive, at least for another few days, with a crucial home matchup against Michigan State. Things were looking up when the Gophers took a nine-point lead with just over 10 minutes remaining. Maybe Minnesota really would pull this off and get back onto the bubble.

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Big Ten Geeks: Heartbreak in Evanston

It was looking like it would be an historic night in Evanston. In front of a sold-out Welsh-Ryan Arena, the Northwestern Wildcats were locked in a tight battle with the visiting Michigan Wolverines. With a win, Northwestern would move one step closer to the 9-9 conference record that would almost certainly earn the program its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. As a cherry on top, the Wildcats’ signature nonconference win was looking even better as Seton Hall had just finished off an impressive win over Georgetown. If Bill Carmody’s team could just pull out this victory, it could be argued that it would be the most important night in Northwestern basketball history.

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Big Ten Geeks: New Stripes for the Zebra

I must admit, I was a bit cautious in projecting Michigan this season. Last year’s team became a force over the second half of the season, and the reason was largely the defense’s sudden improvement. It’s not like the Wolverines lost a tremendous shotblocking presence or yeoman rebounder, but I did see a bit of a regression to the mean for John Beilein.

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Big Ten Geeks: Boiling Over

Purdue picked up a huge victory for their at-large profile at Illinois on Wednesday. This game was mostly decided in the first half, as the Boilers jumped out to a 13-point lead after 16 minutes. Bruce Weber’s team couldn’t stop the smaller Purdue lineup, and it failed to take advantage at the other end by getting the ball to Meyers Leonard. From that point forward, the Illini played much better, even using a triangle-and-two to good effect in the second half, but the Boilers would never fully relinquish their lead. The split of the efficiencies tells the story of too little, too late:

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Big Ten Geeks: Bubble Edition

As we hit mid-February, the thoughts of college basketball fans naturally turn to the impending NCAA Tournament, especially to that dreaded B-word that gives college coaches heartburn–bubble. The Big Ten is not immune to this syndrome; in fact, four conference members find themselves squarely on that bubble. One of them was in action last night, while the other three will play tonight. Let’s examine these squads that are teetering on the edge.

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Big Ten Geeks: Beast Mode

Prior to his breakout performance against Ohio State, Adreian Payne had scored double figures in exactly two Big Ten games as a Spartan. And although his offense was certainly a big reason for Michigan State’s victory, his defense probably deserves more credit. Payne did something that few ever will–make Jared Sullinger look like a bad basketball player. The Ohio State big man was frustrated all game long, and although he had 17 points and 16 rebounds, it came at a cost of 10 turnovers (not to mention 4 fouls).

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Big Ten Geeks: The Charity Stripe

Indiana made a living at the foul line in a chippy 13-point win over visiting Illinois. For about 30 minutes, this was a tight, back-and-forth game, with six lead changes and 14 ties. Over the final 10 minutes, however, the Hoosiers took advantage of the foul-riddled Illini to pull away. Indiana not only got to the foul line at an astounding rate; it also shot incredibly well from there, going 35 of 42 (83 percent). Paired with the Hoosiers’ customary accuracy from the field and a low turnover rate, it powered Indiana to a scorching 1.26 points per possession, the highest allowed by the Illinois defense all season.

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Big Ten Geeks: Offensive Explosion in Columbus

Last Tuesday, we watched Illinois and Michigan State fight it out to a 42-41 final. A week later, Ohio State and Purdue matched that point total on the first possession of the second half in an entertaining 87-84 Ohio State win. Both teams used outstanding three-point shooting and minuscule turnover rates to power themselves above 1.30 points per trip, marking a season-high output for both sides.

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Big Ten Geeks: Road Warriors

The knock on Indiana this season was that while the Hoosiers are nearly unbeatable at home, they’re almost the opposite on the road. To wit, the home and away efficiencies are Stevenson-esque in conference play:

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Big Ten Geeks: Digging Themselves a Hole

Michigan picked up a nice home win over Indiana that was, depending on your point-of-view, either not as close as or a lot closer than the final margin suggests. John Beilein’s team jumped out to a big early lead, which peaked at 20 points before the Hoosiers got going. Indiana then took momentum into halftime and maintained it out of the break. The Hoosiers were able to whittle the difference down to two points on multiple occasions, but they just couldn’t get over the hump. Michigan then finished with a flurry to arrive at the final 12-point margin. This breakdown of the efficiencies shows just how well the Hoosiers played during the middle of the game:

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Big Ten Geeks: In the 40s

Illinois picked up a much needed home victory over Michigan State, and Illini fans would probably appreciate if the discussion ended right there. It was about as ugly as basketball can get, with turnovers and missed shots aplenty. The Spartans had more missed shots than points, and their 26.7 effective field goal percentage represented the program’s worst shooting night in at least 15 seasons (I only have eFG data back to 1997-98). To top it all off, conference player of the year contender Draymond Green, who hadn’t played anyway much due to foul trouble, left the game late with an apparent injury. Green has been diagnosed with a sprained left knee and is considered day-to-day, which is certainly better than many of the possible alternatives.

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Big Ten Geeks: Onions!

With about 10 seconds remaining, Northwestern had succeeded in holding Purdue’s Robbie Hummel, Ryne Smith, and Lewis Jackson to a combined 17 points. That trio spearheads the Boilermaker offense, which has stalled at times this season when one of those three is having an off night. And in Purdue’s final possession, with the game tied, Northwestern played some of its best defense of the season, forcing Robbie Hummel into a contested mid-range jumper from the baseline.

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