Today’s point/counterpoint is more like point/point. Sorry, Northwestern fans.
Early season tournaments tantalize with their meaningful matchups (played in front of a lot of empty seats), and they offer a glimpse into what we should expect over the year. A thirty-point beatdown over Texas Pan Am doesn’t tell you as much about a team as a loss to Villanova. But still, we should take these with a grain of salt. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, some teams that really struggle with challenging early season games end up making lots of deep runs in March.
After a week of games, primarily of the cupcake blowout variety, the Big Ten is a cumulative 23-5. Can we learn anything from what we’ve seen so far? Here’s a few thoughts heading into the weekend.
On today’s point/counterpoint, we debate whether Purdue’s defensive branding is deserved, or just the result of having a very talented defensive player for four seasons.
Next up in our point/counterpoint series is Ohio State, which comes off a Final Four appearance and has been atop the Big Ten standings for the past three seasons. Today we consider whether the Buckeyes have enough bodies to keep that up this season.
In today’s Point/Counterpoint, we tackle a question that has already gotten some play in basketball circles across the nation – has Indiana really gone from an 11-7 Big Ten team to the best squad in the nation?
It’s already been proclaimed that the preseason expectations for Michigan is this year’s Rorschach test. You can find out where we stand by reading our Big Ten chapter in this year’s College Basketball Prospectus. You can also read about things like “beware negative covariance come March” and about the Six Degrees of Big 12 Coaches. For now, a referendum on John Beilein in today’s Point/Counterpoint.
For today’s point/counterpoint, we’re debating how Wisconsin can move on without Jordan Taylor.
Our point/counterpoint series takes on a special significance today, as we take on the question that Americans are debating over—whether Iowa will make the jump to the NCAA Tournament this season.
We’re going to try something new this year. Instead of just previewing every team like we usually do, we’ll give the people what they really want—ammunition to win arguments. So for every team, we’ll have both sides of the debate covered. Today, we’ll look at what we can expect from Michigan State after it loses its leader, Draymond Green.
We’re going to try something new this year. Instead just previewing every team like we usually do, we’ll give the people what they really want—ammunition to win arguments. So for every team, we’ll have both sides of the debate covered. First up, Minnesota.
Ohio State’s season came to an end in the national semifinal in a close loss to Kansas. The Buckeyes led for the vast majority of this game, and most will probably remember the game as a great comeback by Kansas, but the truth is that Kansas played a much better game than Ohio State. Consider that the Buckeyes were held to 32 percent shooting on two-pointers for the game. Further, OSU was held to rebounding just a quarter of the available offensive rebounds.
Ohio State was our preseason pick for the cream of the conference, and, despite a bumpy Big Ten slate that left them sharing the title, the Buckeyes are now the last B1G standing. The Sweet Sixteen was rather cruel to Big Ten teams not from Columbus; let’s start with the happy news and work our way through the rest.
While Thursday is the potentially big night for the Big Ten, with three schools looking to reach the Elite Eight, Friday night brings the enticing rematch of Indiana and Kentucky. The Hoosiers have surpassed all expectations by reaching the Sweet Sixteen for just the second time in 18 years, and they now have a golden opportunity to knock off most people’s national title pick. Let’s look at the match-up.
After a wild opening weekend, the Big Ten emerged with four teams among the remaining Sweet Sixteen. Today, we’ll preview the Thursday games, two of which are conveniently in the same regional. In Boston, it’s a four-team tournament with a Final Four spot on the line, and Big Ten teams are on both sides of the bracket. The other B1G Thursday participant will be Michigan State. We’ll delve into the Boston regional before previewing the Spartans’ path.
Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE
As of this writing, there is a 45.9 percent chance your NCAA Champion will be from the Big Ten. It was a good weekend for the conference, as four teams advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. But before we get to that good stuff, let’s deal with the unpleasantness.
Yesterday, we previewed the paths for Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio State, who start tournament play today. Now, we’ll take a look at the paths for the Big Ten teams that get going on Friday night – Michigan, Purdue, and Michigan State.
With the “second round” of the NCAA tournament about to begin, let’s take a look at the matchups and potential matchups for Big Ten teams. First, we’ll look at the Thursday/Saturday pods.
Josh: It’s time to reflect on another season of Big Ten hoops. I think the rest of college basketball has finally taken notice of something that’s been true for the past 18 months or so–the Big Ten is the best conference in college basketball. Still, you look at the conference today, you see two great teams, 3 pretty darn good teams, a team good enough to make the Dance, and then mediocrity. Heck, even a couple of pretty bad teams. I mean, it’s hard to say the conference underachieved, but here goes–the conference underachieved. Sure, this is still the best action you’ll find, and it’s not close, but we’re still talking about a league that’s probably going to get 6 bids, with only a couple of standout teams. Does that sound much different than the past decade, when the Big Ten wasn’t measuring up to the likes of the ACC and the Big East?
Aaron Craft is a very good defensive player. Let’s get that out of the way. Whatever you think of the next few paragraphs, remember that we all agree that Craft’s defense would improve just about any collegiate basketball team.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.