|Team||W||L||Poss.||Off. Eff.||Def. Eff.||Eff. Margin|
The tempo free stats in scatterplot form live here. All efficiency numbers are for conference play only.
The middle of the Big Ten becomes more confusing by the day. Eight Big Ten teams have 3-5 wins and the conference race, making it almost impossible to separate contenders from pretenders. The efficiency numbers infer that some teams might be better than their record indicates (Illinois and Indiana) while others might be worse (Michigan State, Michigan).
When you look down the list, it’s tough to find a team without glaring issues at the moment. Michigan State has lost 5 of 6 games and Illinois has lost 5 of 7. Minnesota is on a three game losing streak and without a point guard. Penn State just blew a 10 point lead to lose to Michigan at home. Indiana just lost at home to Iowa, who is also 3-8. Northwestern finally notched a quality win, at home over Illinois, but sits at just 4-7. Sometimes it’s tough to tell whether we have good teams beating up on each other or a bunch of mediocre teams stuck in neutral.
John Gasaway notes that what is truly amazing about the Big Ten this season is the lack of any terrible teams. Unfortunately all of those ‘OK’ teams are a thorn in the side of the teams that are trying to bolster their NCAA tournament resumes. Teams like Michigan, Northwestern, Indiana, and Iowa aren’t likely to go dancing but they are all capable of knocking off a team or two in the upper half of the league.
At the top, anticipation grows for Ohio State and Wisconsin’s showdown at the Kohl Center this Saturday. More on that after the jump in Joe’s feature. — Dylan Burkhardt
Surprise of the week: Michigan State getting blown out in Iowa City, 72-52. Looking back and taking into account the events of the past week, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised, but going into this game, there was still a bit of hope for Spartan fans that Michigan State would snap out of it and dig itself out of the hole with a road victory over the Hawkeyes. Not so much. The Spartans couldn’t get anything going in Iowa City — Iowa started the game off with a 15-2 (and 30-8) run and never looked back. It was a bad loss, and didn’t exactly give the Spartans momentum going into their game against Wisconsin in Madison… – Joe Stapleton
Disappointment of the week: Ohio State going into Minnesota and winning soundly, 82-69. This was supposed to be a chance for the Big Ten to finally hand the dominant Buckeyes a loss, and also would have been a nice bullet point on Minnesota’s NCAA resume. Al Nolen’s broken foot continues to hurt the Gophers, forcing Blake Hoffarber to play out of position. Hoffarber also injured his knee in the game. Ohio State dominated the offensive glass against Minnesota and forced a ton of turnovers in the paint — Minny’s big men combined for 12 turnovers in the game. – Joe Stapleton
Unsung hero: Brandon Paul of Illinois. The reserve guard won’t get too much credit because the Illini lost to Northwestern by one point in Evanston, but he stepped up when McCamey wasn’t able to do much (the senior finished with 14 points), tallying 21 points and three assists. Of course, it wasn’t enough for Illinois, who lost a heartbreaker behind 22 points from Michael Thompson. – Joe Stapleton
Stat line: Jordan Taylor flirting with perfection versus Michigan State. Taylor finished with 30 points on 13 shots with six assists and just one turnover. Wisconsin scorched the nets to the tune of 1.51 (!) points per trip and Taylor was the catalyst. He hit difficult shots in the lane, late shot clock threes, and Michigan State had no answer. Is Taylor the best point guard in the league? It’s starting to seem like it. – Dylan Burkhardt
Game of last week: Iowa winning 64-63 at Indiana. Just a gritty performance from the Hawkeyes, who have clearly improved under coach Fran McCaferry. It’s not easy to come back from a 10-point deficit on the road, especially against a hot Indiana team at Assembly Hall when Jordan Hulls goes for 24 points. Iowa came back thanks largely to three Indiana turnovers and were able to tie the game with about five and a half minutes left. From there, Bryce Cartwright made a 15-footer to seal it. – Joe Stapleton
Game of this week: Ohio State at Wisconsin, for reasons that should be obvious. Wisconsin ranks first in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency and if someone is going to beat Ohio State this season, this might be the best chance. Wisconsin hasn’t lost at the Kohl Center this season and Ohio State hasn’t lost at all. Something has to give. – Joe Stapleton