staff, December 16, 2011

Northwestern showed no ill effects from its 10-day layoff in a 30-point shellacking of Texas Southern. The impressive results, as usual for the Wildcats, were at the offensive end, where they posted the second-highest efficiency allowed by the Tigers all season. Texas Southern has faced a couple teams relevant to the Wildcats, so the efficiencies posted by each team against the Tigers may be enlightening:

Off. Eff. Def. Eff.
Northwestern 1.18 0.74
Baylor 1.11 0.82
Michigan State 1.05 0.57

Northwestern posted the best offensive efficiency of the three and actually defended Texas Southern better than Baylor did. Of course, it's usually not wise to split hairs about a blowout, and all three of these games were blowouts.

Bill Carmody's team will continue its three-games-in-four-nights spectacular tomorrow against Central Connecticut, a team that recently had Michigan State sweating a bit, then the Wildcats will host Eastern Illinois on Sunday. These should both be easy tuneups in preparation for a big road game at Creighton on Thursday.

Ohio State's Jared Sullinger

Ohio State handled South Carolina Upstate by 24 points, but the big news was the unexpected return of Jared Sullinger. The big man played 25 minutes and posted a 12-10 double-double, prompting sighs of relief from Buckeye fans across the country. Ohio State doesn't really need Sullinger until Big Ten play–the next three opponents are all outside of KenPom's top 100–but it's a positive sign that he was able to play productive extended minutes. Aaron Craft, as usual, was magnificent on the defensive end. The sophomore picked up five steals and continues to lead the B1G in steal percentage.

Wisconsin returned to the stingy defensive ways with which it started the season in a 33-point win over Savannah State. The Badgers allowed just 0.63 points per possession, the seventh time this season they've held an opponent under the 0.70 mark.

Oh yeah, the offense was also fantastic as Wisconsin eschewed threes and shot 68 percent on twos. Bo Ryan's team now has a week-long break before finishing up nonconference play against Mississippi Valley State.

This weekend brings a few interesting matchups, most notably (all on Saturday):

  • Purdue vs Butler (1pm CT, CBS)
  • Indiana vs Notre Dame (3:30pm CT, ESPN2)
  • Illinois vs UNLV (4pm CT, BTN)
  • Iowa vs Drake (8pm CT, BTN)

Illinois, in particular, faces its biggest game of the season to date, and it looks like a pure toss-up. The Illini are almost certainly going to lose before New Year's Day, but it would help the resume to push that off for another couple games.