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Here are 14 hoops thoughts as we enter 2014

The conference hoops season tips off New Year’s Eve. I hope you’re excited, too! Before the games really start to count, here are 14 (random) thoughts I have entering 2014. For the record, no, these thoughts are in no particular order. [ MORE: Video: Watch our top 10 nonconference dunks ] 1. As many as three Big Ten teams could hold the No. 1 ranking this season. Michigan State already has been No. 1, while No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Wisconsin could also get their time atop the polls. Both the Buckeyes and Badgers are undefeated, and if

B1G nonconference thoughts in 140 characters or less

The Big Ten went 5-1 on Saturday to close out the nonconference season with a bang. There were plenty of memorable moments early on this year, so how do we go about summing up 12 teams and 153 total nonconference games? Simple — We follow the rules of twitter. Here is a summary of every Big Ten teams’ nonconference performances in 140 characters or less. [ MORE: View Stephen Bardo’s latest Big Ten Power Rankings ] 1. Ohio State (13-0): Great defense and better than expected on offense. Craft has been terrific. Consistent play down low makes this a championship-caliber

Big Ten Geeks: Getting Defensive

We sit mere days away from Big Ten play, so it seems a proper time to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the conference’s defenses. Possibly the best way to do that is through detailed shot data. The best defenses will limit open threes and shots at the rim while forcing opponents to take low value two-point jumpers. Courtesy of Hoop-Math, the following table contains defensive shot data for the teams in the Big Ten, sorted from fewest shots allowed at the rim to most shots allowed at the rim. Team % Shots At Rim % Shots 2pt Jumpers %

Yarina: My All-Big Ten Most Improved Team

With the nonconference season almost behind us and the conference season just a week away, it’s a good time to consider the Big Ten’s most improved players. There’s plenty of players to choose from, that’s for sure. See who made the cut for my all-improved team in this post. Editor’s note: This list only considers players who played in the Big Ten last year, meaning the Rayvonte Rices and Terran Petteways of the world aren’t eligible. G: Yogi Ferrell, Indiana. A season ago, Ferrell was a true freshman distributor who took a back seat to Indiana’s four 1,000-point scorers. He

Sunday hoops roundup: B1G goes for 5 for 5

The Big Ten went a perfect 5-0 for the second consecutive day Sunday. Indiana (Kennesaw State), Iowa (Ark-Pine Bluff), Northwestern (Brown), Penn State (Mount St. Mary’s) and Purdue (West Virginia) all carded nonconference wins. Catch up on all the stats, scores and select video highlights in this post. INDIANA 90, KENNESAW STATE 66 | RECAP | BOX | PLAY-BY-PLAY (AP) Yogi Ferrell had 25 points while Noah Vonleh added 14 points and nine rebounds as Indiana easily defeated Kennesaw State 90-66 on Sunday afternoon. The Hoosiers (10-3), who open Big Ten play on New Year’s Eve at Illinois, shot a

BTN expands studio team of basketball analysts

CHICAGO – BTN will bolster its team of studio analysts to coincide with the start of conference basketball by adding former Maryland and Ohio State head coach Gary Williams and Hall of Fame sportswriters Dick “Hoops” Weiss and Mike DeCourcy, who returns for a third season. In total, BTN will televise 67 men’s conference basketball matchups, including nine straight weeks of “Super Wednesday” doubleheaders, presented by Buffalo Wild Wings, and four Big Ten Tournament games. All “Super Wednesday” doubleheaders will begin with the Auto Owner’s Insurance Big Ten Tip-Off Show, hosted by Dave Revsine alongside analyst Jim Jackson. BTN’s lineup

Big Ten Geeks: Early Trends

It’s still early, but it can be instructive to look at how Big Ten teams have performed relative to preseason expectations. With so few games of consequence being played this week, now is as good a time as any to pause and see how things have gone. Courtesy of the ever-useful kenpom.com, here’s how the rankings have evolved for Big Ten teams so far this season: The index on the x-axis is the game number from which the ranking was taken. The first ranking is taken from before the first game (i.e. the preseason ranking), the second ranking is taken

Big Ten Geeks: The kids are alright

As most of the Big Ten pauses for finals, it seems a fitting time to evaluate how the first semester went for the conference’s freshmen. We’ve got a third of the season under our belts, so it feels like we can finally take an initial peek at the numbers. The following table lists every Big Ten freshman that has played at least 10 percent of his team’s minutes, sorted by usage rate. Player Team %Min Ortg %Poss OR% DR% DefensiveSOS Rank Bryson Scott Purdue 44.8 111.1 29.0 4.2 10.2 310 Stanford Robinson Indiana 24.3 94.8 25.1 4.0 16.8 332 Noah

Big Ten Geeks: Contenders or Pretenders?

This was a big weekend for the middle of the Big Ten. So far this season, there have been two teams that clearly look a cut above the rest—Ohio State and Wisconsin—and then there are a lot of teams that haven’t hit their upside. Many of those teams were tested this weekend, and every one of them failed. The action started on Friday, where Iowa established the theme of the weekend—get a lead, and blow it late. The Hawkeyes had a 10-point lead over a tough Cyclones team in the first half, but this was a back-and-forth affair in the

B1G hoops roundup: Badgers remain perfect

It was a busy day of men’s hoops Saturday, as nine Big Ten teams were in action. The conference went 4-5 on the day, highlighted by wins from Nebraska, Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin. Catch up on all the scores, stats, recaps and select video highlights in this post. [ MORE: View Saturday’s full scoreboard ] OREGON 71, ILLINOIS 64 | RECAP | BOX | PLAY-BY-PLAY (AP) Mike Moser had 14 points and nine rebounds, and No. 15 Oregon remained unbeaten with a 71-64 victory over Illinois on Saturday night. Joseph Young added 14 points for the Ducks in