I must admit, I was a bit cautious in projecting Michigan this season. Last year’s team became a force over the second half of the season, and the reason was largely the defense’s sudden improvement. It’s not like the Wolverines lost a tremendous shotblocking presence or yeoman rebounder, but I did see a bit of a regression to the mean for John Beilein.
With another week of Big Ten basketball behind us, it’s time to run down the best plays from Feb. 13-19 action. If you like jaw-dropping plays, this was the week for you. But which ones reserved a spot on BTN.com blogger Brent Yarina’s latest Hardwood Highlights? See Brent’s top 10 plays in this post. Don’t agree? Cast your vote for the top play at the bottom of this post. See last week’s top plays and keep up with all the best highlights from across the Big Ten with our Did You See This? feature.
Find out more about: Big Ten Top 10
No. 19 Michigan upset No. 6 Ohio State (recap), Nebraska did the same to struggling Illinois (recap) and Northwestern took care of Minnesota (recap) in Big Ten men’s hoops action Saturday. Catch up on all three games on our BTN.com scoreboard and get stats, recaps and video in this post. BTN has another doubleheader Sunday, starting at 4 ET (view the schedule!). And don’t forget that BTN.com editors watch for all the best highlights throughout the season and post them in our Did You See This? archive.
Find out more about: Hoops Rapid Recaps
For a day, Nebraska did it all and showed what kind of team it can be when everything comes together. It came in Saturday’s decisive victory over struggling Illinois, and Caleb Walker’s ridiculous one-handed alley-oop highlighted it all. The thunderous second-half jam — listen to the rim! — was a thing of beauty.
It has been an interesting week, with the league title chase coming into sharper focus with Michigan State’s big win at Ohio State. It will come down to Sparty vs. Brutus for the title, which is what we thought would happen back in October. So, it looks like the other Big Ten teams are relegated to a chase for third place.
Purdue picked up a huge victory for their at-large profile at Illinois on Wednesday. This game was mostly decided in the first half, as the Boilers jumped out to a 13-point lead after 16 minutes. Bruce Weber’s team couldn’t stop the smaller Purdue lineup, and it failed to take advantage at the other end by getting the ball to Meyers Leonard. From that point forward, the Illini played much better, even using a triangle-and-two to good effect in the second half, but the Boilers would never fully relinquish their lead. The split of the efficiencies tells the story of too little, too late: