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Big Ten Geeks: Prove It

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. I try to view these games through a “canary in the coal mine” lens. While one

Big Ten Geeks: One Week In

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. Purdue is 1-2 with a close loss to Bucknell, a blowout of Hofstra, and a controversial loss to Villanova. We aren’t high on these Boilermakers and don’t expect them to make the NCAA tournament, but in fairness, Purdue is just a few plays from being 3-0 instead. The Bucknell game was close the whole way, with D.J. Byrd missing a wide open three that

Tracy Abrams

Illinois takes down St. Francis (NY), 89-64

Tyler Griffey scored 17 points and Tracy Abrams had 15, leading Illinois to an 89-64 win over St. Francis (N.Y.) Monday night. Brandon Paul added 14 points and six assists for the Illini (2-0). Akeem Johnson led St. Francis (1-1) with 13 points, Ben Mockford added 12 and Jalen Cannon had 11 rebounds. Illinois couldn’t shake the Terriers early, but closed the first half on a 15-0 run to take a 45-25 lead. The Illini held St. Francis scoreless for 7:11 during the spurt. Illinois had only eight turnovers, something that concerned first-year coach John Groce during exhibition play. [

D.J. Richardson

Illinois drops Colgate, 77-55

Illinois took home a victory, 77-55 over Colgate on Friday as Brandon Paul scored 20 points. Murphy Burnatowski had a good game for Colgate (0-1) in defeat with 23 points, 8-of-15 shooting from the field, and 5-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc. Paul sparked Illinois (1-0), as he shot 8-of-15 from the field in the win. Tyler Griffey was 4-of-6 from the floor and chipped in 10 points for the Fighting Illini. Illinois was hot from long range, hitting 13-of-30 threes for a 43 percent night from beyond the arc. The Fighting Illini also got a double-digit effort from Tracy

Illinois' Tracy Abrams

Illinois holds off West Chester in final tuneup

It wasn’t pretty, but the Illinois men’s basketball team held on to beat West Chester, 75-66, in its exhibition finale Sunday at Assembly Hall. Tracy Abrams scored 17 points to pace four Illini in double figures. Twenty-one Illinois turnovers allowed West Chester to keep the score closer than expected. Illinois opens the regular season at 8 p.m. ET Friday vs. Colgate. And here’s a nice And-1 from Joseph Bertrand:

Melsahn Basabe & Ben Brust

In the spotlight: B1G players who need to produce

The exhibition season already has tipped off for Big Ten men’s hoops teams. Before the games start to count, though, BTN.com’s Brent Yarina wanted to offer his Big Ten players in the spotlight. Whether the players have big shoes to fill, they’re considered the missing piece or they’re coming off down years, Yarina offers one guy for every Big Ten team. See the list in this post. ILLINOIS Nnanna Egwu, C, So. Why he’s in spotlight: Last season’s breakout big man Meyers Leonard was a first-round NBA pick, meaning Illinois needs a big body, someone to fill the role down

Big Icon Illinois Logo

Illinois downs Lewis, 79-47, in exhibition

]Illinois defeated Lewis, 79-47, in an exhibition game Saturday night at the Assembly Hall. The Illini jumped out to a 26-4 lead, draining six of their first eight 3-point attempts during the early spree. Illinois’ defense was equally as impressive early on, holding Lewis to 1-of-13 shooting. Eleven Illini entered the scoring column, with three in double figures: D.J. Richardson (12 points), Myke Henry (11) and Sam McLaurin (11). Proud of our guys' effort, attitude and unselfishness tonight! We definitely got better tonight!! — John Groce (@JohnGroce) October 28, 2012 [FightingIllini.com: Illini defeats Lewis, 79-47] Illinois returns to the court

Minnesota Golden Gophers men's head coach Tubby Smith speaks to the audience during the Big Ten media day at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare. Mandatory Credit: Reid Compton-US PRESSWIRE

Video: Big Ten men's coaches speak with reporters

There were few new faces mixed in among the veteran Big Ten men’s basketball coaches at the 2012 Big Ten Basketball Media Day on Thursday. Each one held press conferences and we’ve posted the video for each session in this post. Don’t forget that all of our videos – including these ones – live in our robust and searchable BTN.com video gallery. *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Matt Painter

Big Ten Media Day notebook: Dirk, Zeller & fashion

While at Big Ten Basketball Media Day on Thursday, I walked around the mammoth Hyatt Regency O’Hare in search of some nuggets for a Media Day Notebook.See what I came up with from the event that issued more than 300 credentials, a figure Big Ten officials said was “the most in recent memory.” Plus, find links to all of the rest of our Media Day coverage in the rest of this post D.J. AS DIRK HUNTER: The “D” in D.J. Byrd stands for David. It’ll be Dirk for many people now – at least those who saw the act the

Iowa Hawkeyes men's head coach Fran McCaffery

Dienhart: 26 Big Ten hoops questions for 2012-13

The anticipation for the Big Ten basketball season is tangible for a league that looks like it may be the best in America. Five schools appear in most every significant preseason poll. Indiana leads the way, ranking No. 1 in the USA Today poll, Sporting News poll and Athlon poll, among others. Ohio State and Michigan show up in several top fives, while Michigan State and Wisconsin also are ranked in most polls. [RELATED: Big Ten media day notebook: Dirk, Zeller, fashion] Still, questions loom and they are questions that must be answered for this league to be as good