Illinois picked up a much needed victory at Northwestern, but they sure didn’t make it easy on themselves. The Wildcats came out executing their offense to the tune of 1.13 points per possession in the first half, a very solid showing against a good Illini defense. John Shurna was at the forefront of the attack, putting up 17 first half points. Northwestern built a double digit lead before a late Illinois run made it closer at the half.
Give Rodney Williams an inch anywhere near the rim, and he’ll make you look silly. The Minnesota junior has springs in his shoes, something Iowa witnessed in the second half of Wednesday night’s game at Williams Arena. On this particular play, Williams turned a Julian Welch missed 3-pointer into a gem of a highlight. The Hawkeyes forgot to account for Williams on the glass, somehow, and he made them pay with a powerful putback of the errant shot. And Williams hung on the rim for style — and to avoid landing on Zach McCabe, we suppose. Watch the play now.
That was exciting! The season’s first BTN Super Wednesday doubleheader, presented by Buffalo Wild Wings, came down to the final second in both games. In the first one, Meyers Leonard swatted away a shot to seal Illinois’ win over Northwestern (recap). And in the nightcap, Iowa denied Minnesota on the final possession (recap). Catch up on all the action on our Big Ten scoreboard and view our Super Wednesday schedule.
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Wisconsin and Michigan State squared off last night in a game that will not help the Big Ten’s national image. Via a combination of slow pace, good defense, and missed shots that both teams would normally make, the Spartans and Badgers labored for points. It took Michigan State over 13 minutes of game time to break into double digits–and even then they were only down two points. Wisconsin’s shooting nightmare that began against Iowa persisted, and it truly looked like the first team to 50 would win.
One week of Big Ten play in the books, it’s time to release my latest Big Ten men’s hoops power rankings. The rankings are not meant to mimic the Big Ten standings. What fun would that be? They aren’t scientific, either. They’re simply my thoughts on where each Big Ten team stands right now and who would win on a neutral court. Agree? Disagree? Tweet @BTNBrentYarina or leave your comments below. See Brent’s rankings in this post.
Every year, it’s a test of one’s will to avoid drawing any conclusions prior to the beginning of conference play. For instance, two years ago the Texas Longhorns jumped out to an undefeated mark before beginning their conference slate. Non-conference opponents included Pitt, UNC, and Michigan State. After opening conference play with wins over what turned out to be the bottom of the Big XII, Texas sat atop both polls (I still don’t understand the point of polls in college basketball) and was generally recognized as the best team in the country.