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And just like that, it’s time for the Big Ten season to tip. It was a highly successful nonconference season, with the Big Ten owning the national polls. We have even more to look forward in the coming months, however, as many feel this could be one of the better conference races in recent history. Check out my All-Big Ten Nonconference Teams in this post.
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Tracy Abrams scored 27 points, grabbed eight rebounds and handed out five assists as No. 15 Illinois defeated Auburn 81-79 on Saturday at United Center in Chicago.
The Big Ten had a relatively bad weekend, dropping marquee games against other high-major conference teams. The main event was a battle between two top-10 teams when Kansas visited Columbus. Given that the game was on the Buckeyes’ floor, Ohio State should have won this game, and probably by more than just a point or two. Instead, Kansas ended up with a relatively comfortable 8-point win. The Jayhawks led most of the way, and started pulling away with about ten minutes left. There was no great mystery as to why OSU lost—they were terrible shooting the ball, both inside and outside the arc. On twos, Ohio State converted just 35 percent, and they were at 26 percent on threes. Kansas, meanwhile, shot 53 and 46 percent, respectively. Otherwise, OSU outplayed the Jayhawks, but shooting trumps all.
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Happy Holidays! I have a “present” for you. It’s my latest Big Ten Power Rankings. So, if you manage to get some free time from all the family and delicious eats, take a moment to see where your team ranks before the conference season tips off.
Laurence Bowers had 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead No. 12 Missouri over No. 10 Illinois 82-73 in the annual Braggin’ Rights game on Saturday.
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The 2011-12 Illini would push their record to 15-3 with a win over Ohio State (you remember, the Brandon Paul game), and they climbed all the way to 22nd in the AP poll. What followed was a complete collapse–Illinois went 2-12 the rest of the way, and what had looked like a surefire at-large team ended up with no postseason appearance at all. Somehow, the Illini had covered the full range of possibilities we had covered in our 2011-12 season preview (hey, the Brandon Paul/Kemba Walker comparison doesn’t seem quite so insane now!). Could such a nosedive happen again?