This week “The Journey: Big Ten Basketball 2014” airs Sunday at 5 p.m. ET after Illinois plays Indiana on BTN/BTN2Go and we’ve got the stories right here. Come meet Minnesota point guard DeAndre Mathieu, a former walk-on and JUCO transfer who is now flourishing in Richard Pitino’s system – all while honoring a friend. Also, track the long and winding road taken by Champaign native Rayvonte Rice, who wound up at Illinois as one of the leagues’ top scorers.
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.
Illinois and Ohio State had their share of misses from the field Thursday night. After all, the Illini shot 41 percent and the Buckeyes came in at 42 percent in the 62-55 Ohio State win. But there was one miss that neither team – nor anyone watching – will forget. That, of course, would be Lenzelle Smith Jr.’s 3-pointer in the second half that got stuck on top of the backboard. The ball remained there until Illinois big man Nnanna Egwu, with the help of a floor mop, jumped up at knocked the ball loose. Watch the scene in this post.
There were two Big Ten men’s hoops games on the docket tonight, and both were filled with plenty of excitement. Ohio State kicked off the evening with a much-needed 62-55 win over Illinois, ending the Buckeyes’ four-game losing skid. Penn State followed with an impressive 58-52 victory over Nebraska, giving the Nittany Lions their first Big Ten win of the season.
Ohio State at Nebraska kicked off the week with a rare Monday night game. And, it was a doozy, as the Cornhuskers sent the Buckeyes to a fourth loss in a row. Was that a portent of things to come this week?
The college basketball season is just past the midway point, and the Big Ten picture is beginning to take shape. With five teams ranked in the latest polls, it’s clear the Big Ten is, once again, one of the nation’s elite conferences.