We are scrapping the Big Ten power rankings and changing the format of our weekly Big Ten post. The first section will be recapping the latest Big Ten efficiency margins for the week with some quick observations. The second section will be Joe handing out a couple of “awards” such as the biggest surprise, disappointment, unsung hero, etc. Hopefully this format will be a little more flavorful and interesting.
Tempo Free Efficiency Margins [1-10-2011]
|Team||W||L||PossPG||Off. Eff.||Def. Eff.||Eff. Margin|
Stats from StatSheet.com
Through three to four games these numbers are still largely influenced by strength of schedule and a limited sample size. For example, Purdue has played Penn State, Northwestern, Michigan, and Iowa – teams that will likely make up the bottom half of the conference. On the other hand, they have dismantled ever team in their path and have the best defense in the conference by a significant margin. Speaking of defense, the Boilers are the only conference teamholding opponents under a point per possession, so much for the Big Ten being labeled as a defensive league.
Illinois and Ohio State are both 3-0 but it is the Illini offense that has been truly impressive, scoring 1.23 points per possession and shooting 64% on threes and 65% on twos. The Illini won’t continue to shoot this well but they have experienced talent that has been playing well. Ohio State’s tendency to let teams back into games near the end of the second half has cost them a bit and places them further down the pecking order around Wisconsin.
Michigan State is the last team with a positive efficiency margin and they are followed by Minnesota and Northwestern teams that have played brutal early schedules. It’s all about survival mode for the Gophers and Wildcats as their schedules set up favorably for a strong finish.
Michigan checks in at 10th with the conference’s second worst offense and second worst defense. The Wolverines did pick up a win over Penn State but the losses to Purdue and Wisconsin were one sided after the dust settled. Things won’t get much easier with Ohio State next up. – Dylan Burkhardt
Surprise of the week: Penn State pulling off the upset against No. 18 Michigan State at home. Penn State has been a bit better than expected to start off the Big Ten season, and I’m sure Lions fans are happy with the way their team has played through the first four Big Ten games. A win at Indiana, a loss to Purdue who everyone loses to, a close loss at Michigan and a win against Michigan State at home? Not too shabby for a team that ended their non-conference slate with a home loss to Maine. One of the factors that made their win over Michigan State so surprising was that MSU essentially took Talor Battle out of the game and others stepped up — mainly Jeff Brooks, who had 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Disappointment of the week: You guessed it: Michigan State losing to unranked Penn State on the road. To be fair, it’s tough to play on the road anywhere in the Big Ten. However, if you’re Michigan State, you have to expect to win these games. The loss came after the Spartans barely escaped a nail-biter at Northwestern earlier in the week. State just doesn’t look like State right now. Durrell Summers recorded 21 points and was the only player who could get anything going — Draymond Green had five points and Kalin Lucas had an ineffective 14 and two assists. Izzo’s teams tend to get better as the season rolls on, and this year’s team certainly has a lot of room to improve.
Unsung hero of the week: Iowa freshman forward Melsahn Basabe had a heck of a performance against Ohio State: 7-13 from the field for 22 points, 13 rebounds and 6 blocks. This kid is pretty good. He got to the line consistently in Iowa’s near-upset of the Buckeyes and Ohio State’s bigs were unable to stop him. He was the main reason the Hawkeyes were able to hang around long enough to have a chance to tie the game on the final possession against a team that has looked unbeatable. Basabe highlighted Ohio State’s main weakness at this point in the season: interior defense. In that game, Jared Sullinger did not record a block.
Stat line of the week: Ryne Smith simply can’t miss. In this case we’ll feature two stat lines: 20 points on 5 of 5 (5-5 3pt) shooting and four rebounds versus Penn State and 18 points on 6 of 9 shooting with three rebounds and three assists versus Iowa. We’ve harped on Purdue’s need for a third scoring option but if Ryne Smith continues to shoot it like this then the Boilers might have found the answer.
Last Week’s Best Game: It has to be Kansas at Michigan. It may not have been much to look at (both teams shot well under 40% from the field), but it featured some great defense, the No. 3 team in the country, and overtime. Michigan looked dead in the water for much of the first half before going on a small run and ending the half down seven despite playing perhaps its worst offensive half all year. The Wolverines wouldn’t go away, and Darius Morris knocked down a really tough fadeaway jumper with less than a minute left in regulation to tie the game. Michigan took their first lead of the game in overtime but Kansas was just too much down the stretch and avoided the upset.
Game to Watch: Illinois at Wisconsin (Saturday 3pm, BTN). This will be a matchup of two of the Big Ten’s best teams at arguably the most hostile Big Ten arena. Illinois will have to continue to play very well to steal a game from Wisconsin at the Kohl Center, but it can be done. Wisconsin will be looking for payback for the loss the Illini handed them a couple weeks ago at Illinois thanks to 4 of 20 second half three point shooting. Illinois is as hot as any team in the conference and will have something to prove at the Kohl Center.
- Joe Stapleton