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The Big Ten suffered its first losses over the past couple nights, and we learned just a little bit more about the shape of this conference. Let’s dive in. In a formula that might become common this season, Illinois struggled to score over Valparaiso’s length but did enough on defense to secure the victory. After facing two decidedly smaller teams to open the season, Illinois had trouble converting over Valpo’s big and experienced frontline. In fact, the Illini’s 35.6 effective field goal percentage is the lowest mark of the John Groce era, and last season’s team wasn’t exactly a collection of sharpshooters.
In the night’s top matchup, Michigan State ran out to an early 10-0 lead against a young Kentucky team and did just enough the rest of the way to pick up a very big win. It was a tale of two halves, as the Spartans made the Wildcats look slow and disorganized over the first 20 minutes.
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Down goes No. 1! No. 2 Michigan State dropped top-ranked Kentucky, 78-74, on Tuesday night in the Champions Classic at the United Center. The Spartans’ big win was just one of seven Big Ten games on the night. Get game recaps, stats and video highlights from all the games in this post.
The Big Ten placed a nation’s best 10 players on the John R. Wooden Award preseason top 50 list, released Tuesday. Michigan State led the way with three players (Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Adreian Payne), while Michigan (Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III) and Ohio State (Aaron Craft and LaQuinton Ross) also made the list. A freshman made the cut, too. See all the representatives in this post.
We resume our season preview back-and-forth, with Mike answering Josh’s question about Wisconsin–is this team becoming the Atlanta Braves of college basketball? Always a good team, always in the postseason, but never a real threat to win it all?
Most of the Big Ten cruised to easy wins over cupcakes—with one notable exception—but the Wisconsin Badgers faced a formidable challenge against St. John’s. The Red Storm was mediocre last year, but the team returned everyone, including a healthy dose of rising sophomores. The team is expected to be much-improved, much like Wisconsin’s offense.