With the college basketball season now in the books, fans’ focus shifts to recruiting and the new faces that will be on campus next year.
BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart ranks the top five Big Ten freshmen in the last 20 seasons.
The 37th annual McDonald’s High School All-American game is set to take place tonight at 9:30 p.m. ET at the United Center. The game will feature three future Big Ten players in James Blackmon Jr. (Indiana), D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State) and Melo Trimble (Maryland), all of who will play for the East Team.
This is not the news former Ohio State basketball star Jared Sullinger wanted to hear — especially a little less than two weeks before the 2012 NBA Draft. On Monday, ESPN.com reported that Sullinger was medically flagged by NBA doctors who are concerned about his back. According to the report, Sullinger, who was expected to be a lottery pick, underwent a series of tests at the draft combine last week and NBA doctors are advising their teams not to draft him in the first round.
BTN’s Jim Jackson caught up with six Big Ten names working out at the NBA’s pre-draft combine in Chicago. Jackson talked to Jared Sullinger, William Buford, Draymond Green, Jordan Taylor, Meyers Leonard, and Robbie Hummel. If you’re running games down at the gym, that’s a pretty good first six right there.
No one was shocked when Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger announced Wednesday that he will turn pro after two seasons in Columbus. He’s ready. In fact, some felt Sullinger was ready after his freshman season, when he averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds for a team that won the Big Ten and entered the NCAA tourney as the No. 1 overall seed. Alas, the Buckeyes lost in the Sweet 16 to Kentucky.
Ohio State’s season came to an end in the national semifinal in a close loss to Kansas. The Buckeyes led for the vast majority of this game, and most will probably remember the game as a great comeback by Kansas, but the truth is that Kansas played a much better game than Ohio State. Consider that the Buckeyes were held to 32 percent shooting on two-pointers for the game. Further, OSU was held to rebounding just a quarter of the available offensive rebounds.
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Big Ten Player of the Year Draymond Green and Jared Sullinger were named John R. Wooden All-Americans and first-team AP All-America on Monday. Green averaged 16.2 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.5 spg and 1 bpg, while Sullinger contributed 17.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.2 spg and 1 bpg. Both players led their teams to a share of the Big Ten crown, along with Michigan, and Sullinger has Ohio State in the Final Four. See all the teams in this post.
Ohio State was our preseason pick for the cream of the conference, and, despite a bumpy Big Ten slate that left them sharing the title, the Buckeyes are now the last B1G standing. The Sweet Sixteen was rather cruel to Big Ten teams not from Columbus; let’s start with the happy news and work our way through the rest.
Josh: It’s time to reflect on another season of Big Ten hoops. I think the rest of college basketball has finally taken notice of something that’s been true for the past 18 months or so–the Big Ten is the best conference in college basketball. Still, you look at the conference today, you see two great teams, 3 pretty darn good teams, a team good enough to make the Dance, and then mediocrity. Heck, even a couple of pretty bad teams. I mean, it’s hard to say the conference underachieved, but here goes–the conference underachieved. Sure, this is still the best action you’ll find, and it’s not close, but we’re still talking about a league that’s probably going to get 6 bids, with only a couple of standout teams. Does that sound much different than the past decade, when the Big Ten wasn’t measuring up to the likes of the ACC and the Big East?
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.
With Keith Appling draped all over him, William Buford hit an absolute dagger of a shot to help Ohio State down Michigan State and ensure a three-way tie atop the Big Ten conference for the season. While that makes banner manufacturers very happy, it was not the result the Spartans were expecting after they found themselves up by 9 after the first half. Ohio State won this game by keeping MSU off the glass, getting to the free throw line, and by the excellent work by whoever had the job of talking Buford into coming back to school every May. With Jared Sullinger largely ineffective, Buford put the Buckeyes on his back, carrying them with 25 points on 14 shots.
Winning on the road in the Big Ten is never easy. Doing it in back-to-back games is even tougher. Doing it with game-winning shots in the final seconds twice, that’s incredibly rare. Ohio State would know. The Buckeyes needed Jared Sullinger’s bucket with less than four seconds left to win at Northwestern on Wednesday and William Buford’s ridiculous jumper with one tick left Sunday at Michigan State. The late wins were as clutch as any this season, as they helped Ohio State claim a share of the Big Ten crown, along with Michigan and Michigan State. Watch Buford’s shot now and see Sullinger’s in this post.
It was looking like it would be an historic night in Evanston. In front of a sold-out Welsh-Ryan Arena, the Northwestern Wildcats were locked in a tight battle with the visiting Michigan Wolverines. With a win, Northwestern would move one step closer to the 9-9 conference record that would almost certainly earn the program its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. As a cherry on top, the Wildcats’ signature nonconference win was looking even better as Seton Hall had just finished off an impressive win over Georgetown. If Bill Carmody’s team could just pull out this victory, it could be argued that it would be the most important night in Northwestern basketball history.
As we hit mid-February, the thoughts of college basketball fans naturally turn to the impending NCAA Tournament, especially to that dreaded B-word that gives college coaches heartburn–bubble. The Big Ten is not immune to this syndrome; in fact, four conference members find themselves squarely on that bubble. One of them was in action last night, while the other three will play tonight. Let’s examine these squads that are teetering on the edge.
Prior to his breakout performance against Ohio State, Adreian Payne had scored double figures in exactly two Big Ten games as a Spartan. And although his offense was certainly a big reason for Michigan State’s victory, his defense probably deserves more credit. Payne did something that few ever will–make Jared Sullinger look like a bad basketball player. The Ohio State big man was frustrated all game long, and although he had 17 points and 16 rebounds, it came at a cost of 10 turnovers (not to mention 4 fouls).
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.
Illinois picked up a much needed home victory over Michigan State, and Illini fans would probably appreciate if the discussion ended right there. It was about as ugly as basketball can get, with turnovers and missed shots aplenty. The Spartans had more missed shots than points, and their 26.7 effective field goal percentage represented the program’s worst shooting night in at least 15 seasons (I only have eFG data back to 1997-98). To top it all off, conference player of the year contender Draymond Green, who hadn’t played anyway much due to foul trouble, left the game late with an apparent injury. Green has been diagnosed with a sprained left knee and is considered day-to-day, which is certainly better than many of the possible alternatives.
The Big Ten men’s basketball season is really heating up as we enter a third week of league action, so it’s time to roll out the first installment of my Monday basketball column. We’re calling this my Big Ten Whiteboard, because I’ll be drawing up all the good stuff you’ll need to keep track of in the week ahead.
The Big Ten Conference released its weekly Men’s Basketball Players of the Week for Jan. 2-8 action. See the latest winners and what they did to earn the honors in this post. Also, check out the women’s recipients.
Every Sunday night during the hoops season, BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina recaps the week that was on the men’s hardwood and hands out his weekly honors. See Brent’s latest installment, for action from Jan. 2-8, in this post. And get ready for the coming week of Big Ten action with our Big Ten scoreboard.
Just as we did during 2010-2011 hoops season, we’re archiving Gus Johnson’s greatest calls this season. Johnson is calling men’s basketball for BTN all winter long. We clip and post his best calls and archive them here during games, so bookmark the page and come back all season right up through the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament. Right now you can watch Johnson’s best calls from Tuesday’s Lamar-Ohio State, including this one that helped fans at Value City Arena get free fries.
(AP) Ohio State head coach Thad Matta says star sophomore Jared Sullinger, who missed most of Saturday’s win at South Carolina with a sore foot, will play when the second-ranked Buckeyes host Lamar on Tuesday night. Matta says Sullinger told him he was feeling better each day since he hurt his foot. Read the full AP story.
(AP) Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger left the game against South Carolina after getting kicked in the left foot Saturday. X-rays showed Sullinger did not have a fracture in the foot, but he did not return after heading to the locker room early in the first half. Sullinger limped to the locker room less than five minutes into the second-ranked Buckeyes game at the Colonial Life Arena.