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Big Ten Geeks: Standing Tall

Nnanna Egwu & Joseph Bertrand

Tom Izzo Talks About MSU-Nebraska Football Game

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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Big Ten Geeks: Spartans make a statement

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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Big Ten Geeks: Wolverines come up short

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

In Monday’s national championship, Michigan kept up its impressive tournament run of scoring on the college game’s best defenses, but its own defense just couldn’t slow Louisville enough to take home the title.

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Big Ten Geeks: Winning Ugly

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, Mike predicted that whichever of Syracuse or Michigan scored over a point per trip would win, and he further opined that Michigan was up to the task and would prevail with a five-point win.

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Big Ten Geeks: Iowa taking bite out of Big Apple

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

While most have been focused on the drama that has led to this weekend’s Final Four (which we will preview Friday), Iowa has quietly been dispatching solid teams in the NIT. The Hawkeyes had a relatively easy time with Maryland last night and will face Baylor in the championship Thursday night.

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Big Ten Geeks: Say Yes to Michigan!

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

With two-and-a-half minutes left against Kansas, Michigan was losing by 10, and its season looked done. From that point on, Michigan went on a 104-72 run over the rest of the weekend.

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Big Ten Geeks: Danger zone

Cody Zeller

Wichita State Players Talk OSU

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday was a mixed bag for the Big Ten, with just one team advancing to the Elite Eight in unconvincing fashion. Before Friday’s action tips off, let’s have a look at last night’s results.

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Big Ten Geeks: On Buckeyes & NCAA Tourney

Ohio State won the Big Ten Tournament this weekend, the fourth time that Thad Matta’s team has taken home the crown. While the Buckeyes won largely on the strength of its defense—holding Wisconsin to under 0.8 points per possession—this Ohio State team has been offensively excellent over the back half of its Big Ten schedule:

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Big Ten Geeks: Thoughts on Day 2

Scouting matters. Have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t know your opponent, you’ll get sliced up. So credit Indiana for blowing up Illinois’ offense by stretching its defense well out to the perimeter in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. There was no space to breathe for Illinois’ shooters, and consequently just 6 of Illinois’ 27 field goal attempts were three-pointers in the first half.

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Big Ten Geeks: Thoughts on Day 1

The tournament opener between Illinois and Minnesota didn’t offer much in the way of aesthetically pleasing play, but a buzzer beater has a way of upping the entertainment value. The Gophers turned it over on a season-worst 35 percent of their possessions, allowing the Illini to stay in the game dispute big Minnesota advantages in every other category.

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Big Ten Geeks: Michigan State outruns Wisconsin

In what amounted to an elimination game for a potentially shared Big Ten title, Michigan State steamrolled Wisconsin by 15 points. This game was certainly no work of art, as both teams struggled mightily to score in the half court set. The defense had the upper hand at both ends of the court, but the difference came in the form of Wisconsin live-ball turnovers.

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Big Ten Geeks: Buckeyes break open title race

Aaron Craft & Yogi Ferrell

Aaron Craft Layup and 1

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State shook up the Big Ten title race with an impressive victory at Indiana. This one was all about the Buckeyes’ defense, spearheaded by Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott, as they held the Hoosiers to their second-lowest output of the season (Indiana actually scored slightly worse in the win at Iowa, albeit in a lot more possessions).

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Big Ten Geeks: Penn State springs the upset of the season

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

With 10:39 to play in the Bryce Jordan Center, Michigan’s Jon Horford finished an easy dunk off an inbounds play to put Penn State down 15 points. At that very moment, KenPom’s win probability gave the Wolverines a 99.3 percent chance of leaving town with the victory. In other words, given the time, score, and team qualities, you’d expect a game replayed 150 times from that exact situation to end with Michigan losing only once.

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Big Ten Geeks: Rise of the Gophers

Minnesota Fans

Gophers Upset Hoosiers, Fans Rush Court

Indiana suffered another road loss to a previously scuffling squad, this time falling at Minnesota by four points. Much has been said about Cody Zeller’s lack of offensive production on this night (nine points, four turnovers, five fouls), but the Hoosiers scored quite well with their big man scuffling.

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Big Ten Geeks: The best B1G defense in a decade?

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin held Northwestern to a paltry 0.74 points per possession in one of the most methodical blowouts you’ll ever see. The Wildcats were just consistently outclassed, as the Badgers steadily built their lead until it had swelled to the final 28-point margin. Northwestern’s lowly output helped Wisconsin nudge its in-conference defensive efficiency down to 0.901 points per trip.

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Big Ten Geeks: Say Hello to your champs

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana pulled out a huge road win over Michigan State, thanks largely to the all-around heroics of Victor Oladipo. The surging national player of the year contender made things happen all over the court. On the offensive end, Oladipo was about as efficient as it gets, attacking the tin (he went six for seven on dunks and layups, ridiculous numbers for a guard) while turning it over only once.

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Big Ten Geeks: Boiling Over

Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois exorcised some demons in a 20 point blowout of Purdue. The Fighting Illini seniors had never beaten the Boilermakers, but they changed that in emphatic fashion by attacking the offensive glass and limiting turnovers. In all, Illinois attempted 13 more field goals than Purdue, and those extra looks enabled John Groce’s team to score 1.20 points per trip despite 29 percent shooting on jumpers. It was Illinois’ best output since the win at Gonzaga, and it appears that the Illini of the season’s first month have returned.

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Big Ten Geeks: Michigan State cruises

Matt Costello

Michigan at Michigan State - Men's Basketball Highlights

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

In the first 2013 installment of an intense rivalry, Michigan State humiliated Michigan by 23 points, a margin that belies how truly dominant Tom Izzo’s team was. The lead touched 31 points before garbage time began, and Michigan’s deep reserves made a run to bring the margin down at the final buzzer.

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Big Ten Geeks: Indiana Stunned in Champaign

With one of the most improbable comebacks you’ll see this season, Illinois shocked Indiana in Champaign. This was a game controlled by the Hoosiers most of the way, and Tom Crean’s squad held an eight point lead with 3:01 remaining. At that point, KenPom’s win probability, which factors in time, score, and team quality, gave the Illini just a 1.1 percent chance of coming back to win. With those teams, in that situation, you’d expect Indiana to win 99 out of 100 times.

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Big Ten Geeks: Michigan provides another beauty

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten served up yet another “game of the year” candidate in Michigan’s extra period triumph over Ohio State. This game featured just about everything–impressive defensive plays, back-and-forth big shots down the stretch, and plenty of scoring. Truth be told, you probably couldn’t construct a team more liable to be involved in aesthetically pleasing games than 2012-13 Michigan.

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Big Ten Geeks: Defense and Deshaun

Deshaun Thomas

Wisconsin at Ohio State - Men's Basketball Highlights

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

In a matchup of the Big Ten’s two best defenses, it was Ohio State that prevailed with a nine-point home victory over Wisconsin. Both of these teams rely on good old fashioned B1G defense: make you miss (without fouling), then secure the carom. Turnovers are optional.

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Big Ten Geeks: Spartans Outlast Badgers

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State won a battle of attrition in frigid Madison, edging Wisconsin by a 49-47 score. The Spartans are now 5-0 in games decided by three points or less, and this win was especially fortunate. The Badgers did an excellent job on defense, forcing Michigan State to take an abnormally high proportion of two-point jumpers:

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Big Ten Geeks: Badgers Shock Indiana

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin now owns the most impressive result in all of college basketball after its five point win at Indiana. During the Badgers’ nonconference struggles, we Geeks wondered what was up with Wisconsin’s defense. While the Badgers were still stifling the offense of many a cupcake, they were getting lit up (in a relative sense) against tournament-level teams.

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Big Ten Geeks: Gophers make a statement

Rodney Williams

Minnesota at Illinois - Men's Basketball Highlights

Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, Minnesota made a statement, beating Illinois by 17 points in Champaign. This was a strange one, as the Illini actually negated the Gophers’ huge on-paper advantage on the glass. Instead, it was a big discrepancy in shooting accuracy that told the story. Minnesota, normally a mediocre outside shooting team, hit nine of 15 from behind the arc, while Illinois made just three of its 24 three-point attempts. The Gopher defense certainly had a lot to do with the Illini’s struggles–there just weren’t all that many open looks–but it was also just one of those nights (see Andre Hollins’ banked-in three from nearly midcourt to beat the shot clock).

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