KenPom’s game probabilities gave Northwestern just a five percent chance of winning at Wisconsin, and it didn’t like Penn State’s chances of winning at Ohio State much better (nine percent). In one of the unlikeliest nights of Big Ten basketball you’ll ever see, both road underdogs pulled the upset, an outcome that had a combined probability of less than half a percent.
Michigan State pulled out an impressive overtime win at Iowa despite the continued absence of Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson. The gritty win was all about defense for the Spartans, as they held one of the nation’s top offenses to 1.01 points per trip at home.
Saturday night brought a clash of the only two remaining conference unbeatens when Michigan traveled west to take on State in East Lansing. The Spartans were down their frontcourt, as Branden Dawson’s hand lost a bout with a table earlier in the week, and Adreian Payne was still a week or two away.
Michigan’s offense continued its surge into the nation’s elite in an impressive win over Iowa. In true Beilein-ball fashion, it was a high conversion rate on twos and a low turnover rate that propelled the Wolverines.
Michigan State continues to rack up wins despite the absence of Adreian Payne, with Indiana serving as the latest victim. This one didn’t come easy, as the Hoosiers’ defense kept them in it for most of the game. Indiana even held a five-point lead with 11 minutes remaining, but it wouldn’t last as the Spartans’ offense came alive down the stretch. Indiana natives Gary Harris and Branden Dawson led the charge, and the outcome was never truly in doubt.
Weekends like this one have me considering whether it’s just better to disregard the non-conference season entirely. Because despite the last three months, there was a lot of reverting to preseason expectations. In turn…
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Minnesota picked up a huge resume win over Ohio State, 63-53 in 63 possessions. The story of this game was on the interior, where Elliott Eliason made his presence felt on both ends. The bearded big man went 6-for-8 on twos, leading a Gopher attack that scored a point per trip despite a bad night from the perimeter.
In case any doubters remained—Iowa is for real, as proven by its 10-point win in Columbus. Granted, this was probably more like a six- or eight-point win if Ohio State isn’t fouling desperately at the end. But that’s splitting hairs, especially because most teams in that position do the same thing.
Wednesday and Thursday brought some interesting results on the Big Ten hardwood. Let’s jump right in. After Michigan’s last road game, we opined that the Wolverines were fortunate to leave Minneapolis with a victory. As if to troll us, John Beilein’s team found an even luckier way to win a Big Ten road game, this time in Nebraska’s brand new Pinnacle Bank Arena.
In the first epic clash of the conference season, Michigan State held serve at home against a relentless Ohio State team. Does this give the Spartans the inside track on the Big Ten title? Let’s dive in.
The easy narrative for Wisconsin’s win over Iowa is that Fran McCaffrey was hit with a double technical foul when his team held a 2-point lead, and that those four points gave Wisconsin the lead, the momentum, and the margin of victory.
Thursday brought conference openers for the four Big Ten teams that didn’t get going on New Year’s Eve. One game was a laugher, and one was a barn burner. Let’s dive right in.
On the final day of 2013, two-thirds of the Big Ten got the conference season underway in entertaining fashion.
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We’re all set to tip-off conference play on Tuesday, which means it’s time to hand out our final grades for the nonconference season. We’ll do this in alphabetical order.
We sit mere days away from Big Ten play, so it seems a proper time to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the conference’s defenses. Possibly the best way to do that is through detailed shot data. The best defenses will limit open threes and shots at the rim while forcing opponents to take low value two-point jumpers.
The headliner to the Big Ten’s wild weekend was Ohio State’s improbable comeback over Notre Dame. The Irish held an 8-point lead with under a minute to play, but OSU’s frenzied press led to four Notre Dame turnovers, which fueled a 14-3 Buckeye run. It was an unreal comeback, so hopefully you saw it, and weren’t like, trying to get a toddler to go to sleep. That would have been unfortunate.
It’s still early, but it can be instructive to look at how Big Ten teams have performed relative to preseason expectations. With so few games of consequence being played this week, now is as good a time as any to pause and see how things have gone.
As most of the Big Ten pauses for finals, it seems a fitting time to evaluate how the first semester went for the conference’s freshmen. We’ve got a third of the season under our belts, so it feels like we can finally take an initial peek at the numbers.
This was a big weekend for the middle of the Big Ten. So far this season, there have been two teams that clearly look a cut above the rest—Ohio State and Wisconsin—and then there are a lot of teams that haven’t hit their upside. Many of those teams were tested this weekend, and every one of them failed.
You can tell a lot about an offense based on its shot selection. Does it force the ball inside? Does it take a lot of threes? The most efficient offenses will thrive on layups, dunks, and open threes.
It’s hard to believe, but nearly a third of the 2013-14 regular season is already in the books. There’s still a lot we don’t know about the Big Ten, but certain trends and qualities have emerged. With preparation for final exams taking precedence over meaningful basketball games this week, let’s take this opportunity to pause and evaluate what we’ve seen.
Wisconsin continued to roll, with a win over Marquette on Saturday. For whatever reason, the Golden Eagles have been an annual root canal for the Badgers. Entering the game on Saturday, Bo Ryan was 6-6 against Marquette, despite the fact that Wisconsin has clearly been the better team on balance over those seasons.
Wednesday night went much better than Tuesday night for the Big Ten, as a 4-2 showing salvaged a second-consecutive tie in the Challenge. Overall, this was a good result for the conference, but the discussion at the end of the night focused on who to blame for the Big Ten’s failure to outright win the thing.
The Big Ten put itself in a hole Tuesday night, going 2-4 against the Atlantic Coasters. Let’s take a look at just how it happened. We had predicted a split on the Challenge’s opening night, and we were awfully close to going six-for-six. How close?