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Indiana won the Big Ten championship outright by about half a Newton, as Jordan Morgan’s tip-in attempt was a hair too strong, allowing Indiana to complete a road comeback and dulling the festivities of the rest of the weekend. After a sluggish first half that ended with Michigan leading 33-30 (33 possessions), the two teams combined for 80 points in the second half (32 possessions). However, despite the fact that these two teams played a back-and-forth battle, I think the result raises more concerns about Michigan than Indiana.
Any sober look at Iowa in the preseason would have put the team somewhere in the vicinity of the bubble. The team was coming off an 8-10 Big Ten campaign that, albeit one blessed with good fortune, portended good things to come with most of the roster returning this season.
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Yes, the object in basketball is score. You need athletes, shooters, passers and rebounders. But good teams also possess toughness.
What is it about Aaron Craft’s style of play that makes so many respect him? Pardon the terrible cliches, but it’s that the Ohio State point guard gives 100 percent all the time and does whatever to help his team- even if it means he puts his body at risk. Craft showed these qualities in Tuesday’s win over Iowa, when he jumped over the first row of seats as he tried to keep the ball in play. Watch the play right now.
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Earlier this season, Indiana coach Tom Crean dropped a piece gum on the court and put it right back in his mouth (watch it here). To be fair, as Crean later tweeted, it was a fresh piece that he fumbled in the process of putting in his mouth. The five-second rule applies there. But what about a wet mouthpiece that rests on the floor for several seconds?
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This may surprise you, but every now and then we say something that really gets fans riled up. The best example of this is our belief that while Aaron Craft is a very good defender, he is not, nor has he ever been, Ohio State’s best defender. And this year, he’s not even the team’s best perimeter defender. Rather than take this as a complement to Ohio State’s collection of outstanding defenders, a lot of people take this as a slight to Craft.
At 10 p.m. ET tonight, “The Journey: Big Ten Basketball 2013” spotlights the Big Ten’s top point guards. The show airs immediately following the Wisconsin-Iowa game, and then airs again at 3 p.m. Sunday following the Indiana-Northwestern game and again at 8 p.m. Sunday.
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Ohio State picked up a solid road victory at Purdue last night, but the bigger story may be the point guard controversy simmering in Columbus.
During Saturday’s Ohio State game against Chicago State on BTN, our crew showed a little video that captured BTN analyst and former Buckeye player Jim Jackson and current Buckeyes guard Aaron Craft trying the same trick shot. Both men missed their first attempt but they each make their second and it’s an impressive angle. “I let him get his confidence,” Jackson said of his approach to the competition with Craft, “and I took his cookies right away from him.”
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.
Michigan State, Ohio State and Purdue all hosted exhibition games Tuesday night. As expected, the three teams carded wins over Northwood, Walsh and Montevallo, respectively. Michigan State’s Branden Dawson and Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas both opened the season with a flurry, registering back-to-back buckets off the opening tip. Watch Dawson’s opening sequence and Thomas’. Check out Dawson’s left-handed jam now and get our video recaps from all three games in this post.
You may never see a more awkward buzzer-beater than the one Ohio State’s Aaron Craft hit at the end of the first half in Tuesday’s exhibition win over Walsh. Consider the mess that occurred before Craft beat the buzzer: There was a loose ball following an errant 3-pointer, which led to Walsh attempting to save the ball from going out of bounds, which led to Sam Thompson trying to do the same before finding Craft, who dribbled backward, to the left and then to the right before finally getting a shot off that touched seemingly every part of the rim before falling.
BTN.com’s Brent Yarina is in the middle of unveiling his 2012-13 preseason Big Ten Player Rankings one by one. The countdown goes in reverse order, of course, and each installment includes player stats and one video highlight from last season. Once the season starts, Yarina will release a weekly Player Rankings every Monday. Up next: Ohio State’s Aaron Craft.
Jared Sullinger and William Buford are gone, but Thad Matta still has plenty of talent coming back for the 2012-13 season. In Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State figures to boast one of the Big Ten’s elite duos. Throw in role player Lenzelle Smith and youngsters LaQuinton Ross and Sam Thompson, and the Buckeyes should be just fine. Athlon Sports believes in the Buckeyes, and that’s why the publication was in Columbus recently for a photo shoot. See a picture in this post.
In the sports world, there’s no better magazine to have your mug on than Sports Illustrated. Ohio State’s Aaron Craft knows what it’s like. The Ohio State point guard is featured on this week’s Final Four regional-based cover. On it, Craft has the ball and is in midair against Syracuse, with the headline: “Ohio State Keeps on Dancing.” The Buckeyes take on Kansas, which beat them earlier this season, Saturday in the second national semifinal.
Aaron Craft is a very good defensive player. Let’s get that out of the way. Whatever you think of the next few paragraphs, remember that we all agree that Craft’s defense would improve just about any collegiate basketball team.
BTN announced the 2011-12 All-Big Ten Men’s Basketball Teams live on Monday night. Michigan State star Draymond Green was the only unanimous first-team player and also won Player of the Year from the coaches and the media, while Green’s coach, Tom Izzo, claimed both Coach of the Year honors. As for the highly debated Freshman of the Year laurel, Trey Burke (media) and Cody Zeller (coaches) were both selected. Let the debate continue!
On this week’s episode of “The Journey,” our crew spotlighted the recent Big Ten battle for the top spot between Michigan State and Ohio State, which featured Big Ten Player of the Year candidates Draymond Green and Jared Sullinger. We also profiled Indiana’s Tom Crean and his marriage into a famous coaching family. Watch our segment on Crean and the Harbaugh’s now and see four bonus clips in this post.
Last Tuesday, we watched Illinois and Michigan State fight it out to a 42-41 final. A week later, Ohio State and Purdue matched that point total on the first possession of the second half in an entertaining 87-84 Ohio State win. Both teams used outstanding three-point shooting and minuscule turnover rates to power themselves above 1.30 points per trip, marking a season-high output for both sides.
Here’s something you don’t see every night, much less twice in the same night: Ohio State’s Aaron Craft and Minnesota’s Julian Welch both hit halfcourt shots on attempted alley-oop passes Wednesday. We kid you not. Craft did it first, as his pass to Sam Thompson went through the rim in Ohio State’s easy win over Penn State. Later, Welch, from just behind the midcourt line, threw a pass in Rodney Williams’ direction and into the bucket in Minnesota’s loss at Michigan State. Watch Craft’s shot here and check out Welch’s in this post.
With an amazing 43-point performance from Brandon Paul, Illinois shocked Ohio State in Champaign. Coming in, this looked like a game that the Illini might hope to keep close with their defense, but it seemed unlikely that Bruce Weber’s struggling offense would be able to scrape together enough points against the nation’s top defense. That analysis went out the window once Paul got rolling.
For now, football is in my rear view window and the road for me ahead has plenty of Big Ten hoops. In my first installment of my Big Ten Three-Pointers, my aim is to fire up 3-pointers from around the Big Ten as I look back at the previous week’s news and then ahead to what’s coming. Ready, set, shoot …
Everything Aaron Craft does, it seems, begins on the defensive end. The sophomore guard led the Big Ten in steals (2.9) entering Thursday night’s game against Miami (OH), and he only added to his total in the game on BTN. Early in the second half, Craft turned one of his latest steals into an impressive and-1 opportunity. Watch Craft get the steal, drive the floor and finish despite the contact now.
Five Big Ten men’s basketball players have been named candidates for the Bob Cousy Award, handed out annually to the nation’s top collegiate point guard. The list includes Michigan’s Trey Burke, Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, Penn State’s Tim Frazier, Purdue’s Lewis Jackson and Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor. See the complete list of candidates here.