Big Ten Roundup: February 13th, 2012

Team W L Tempo PPP Opp. PPP Eff. Margin
Ohio State 9 3 66.2 1.10 0.88 0.22
Michigan State 9 3 62.9 1.09 0.91 0.18
Wisconsin 8 4 57.5 1.02 0.96 0.06
Michigan 9 4 59.1 1.05 1.00 0.05
Indiana 7 6 65.6 1.11 1.09 0.02
Minnesota 5 7 63.4 1.02 1.02 0.00
Purdue 6 6 63.9 1.08 1.11 -0.03
Illinois 5 7 62.6 0.99 1.03 -0.04
Northwestern 5 7 61.8 1.08 1.13 -0.05
Iowa 5 7 66.7 1.04 1.12 -0.09
Penn State 3 10 63.1 0.95 1.08 -0.13
Nebraska 3 10 61.7 0.91 1.09 -0.18
Average 62.9 1.04

Data from StatSheet.com and KenPom.com.

There aren’t many sports clichés older than “defense wins championships” but the phrase holds true in the Big Ten.  The four teams at the top of the Big Ten standings boast the best per-possession defenses in the league and the top three have the best adjusted defensive efficiency ratings in the country. Indiana, Purdue and Northwestern can score the ball as well as anyone in the league but simply haven’t found the results on the other end.

The defense played in the league might not be the most aesthetically pleasing but it goes a long way toward explaining Saturday’s face off between league leaders, Michigan State and Ohio State. The Spartans upset the Buckeyes in Columbus despite scoring just .91 points per possession, an impressive feat that required holding the league’s second best offense to a meager .75 points per trip. Ohio State and Michigan State are now tied for first at 9-3 and remain an arms length away from the pack in the efficiency margin column. However, Michigan and Wisconsin are just a game back in the loss column with five or six big games left on the schedule.

After the jump we take a look at the top four team’s remaining schedules and some highlights from the week that was in the Big Ten.

Big Ten Remaining Schedule by Team

MICHIGAN ST. (9-3) OHIO ST. (9-3) MICHIGAN (9-4) WISCONSIN (8-4)
vs. Wisconsin (8-4) at Minnesota (5-7) vs. OSU (9-3) at MSU (9-3)
at Purdue (6-6) at Michigan (9-4) at N’Western (5-7) vs. PSU (3-10)
at Minnesota (5-7) vs. Illinois (5-7) vs. Purdue (6-6) at Iowa (5-7)
vs. Nebraska (3-10) vs. Wisconsin (8-4) at Illinois (5-7) at OSU (9-3)
at Indiana (7-6) at N’Western (5-7) at PSU (3-10) vs. Minnesota (5-7)
vs. OSU (9-3) at MSU (9-3) vs. Illinois (5-7)
KenPom 41.8 30.5 52.2 54
Home 3 2 2 3
Away 3 4 3 3

2017486275[1]Michigan State and Ohio State both have their fair share of tough games although Michigan State’s toughest games come at home while Ohio State has significant road hurdles ahead. Michigan and Wisconsin could both play their way back into the conference championship picture this week with games against the league leaders. – Dylan Burkhardt

Surprise of the week: No. 12 Michigan State 58, No. 3 Ohio State 48

It wasn’t a total shock that the Spartans beat the first-place Buckeyes on Saturday, but it was surprising how comfortable the victory was.  Michigan State took the lead for the first time with 12:13 to go in the first half and never relinquished it. The Spartans held a comfortable eight to 12 point lead for most of the second half and Ohio State never mounted a serious run. The Buckeyes had won 39 straight games at Value City Arena but Michigan State was the more physical and aggressive team. The Spartans dominated the backboards and continued to play some of the best defense we’ve seen from a Tom Izzo team in quite some time. The win put the Spartans in a tie for first place with the Buckeyes although Ohio State still has a shot for revenge on March 4th when it visits East Lansing for the final game of the regular season. – Kevin Raftery

Stat line of the week: Jared Sullinger’s “triple double”: 17 points, 16 rebounds, 10 turnovers in loss to Michigan State

Sullinger’s 17 points were right on track with his season average, and 16 rebounds is an impressive number, but those are numbers we’ve seen from Sullinger time and again. It was the turnovers that make this stat line so uncommon. Ten turnovers were the most that the consensus player of the year candidate has totaled in his career, and he became the first player in Division I this season to record the not-so-glamorous “triple double” using points, rebounds and turnovers. The Spartans’ ability to play physically against Sullinger in the post took him out of his comfort zone and his frustration became more evident with every missed layup and turnover. – Kevin Raftery

Game of the week: No. 22 Wisconsin 68, Minnesota 61 (OT) Thursday

In Minneapolis, Wisconsin led by as many as 12 in the second half and held a nine-point lead with just over five minutes to go. But the scrappy Golden Gophers wouldn’t go away and tied it up on two free throws by Austin Hollins with a minute to go. Hollins had a chance to be the hero for Minnesota on its final possession but couldn’t get his last-second attempt to drop. Instead, the game went to overtime, and from there, the Badgers regained control and won it from the free throw line. They made just one field goal in the extra frame but made 14-of-16 freebies to seal the victory. It was a big road win for Wisconsin, which has now won seven of its last eight games and remains in the hunt for the conference crown. – Kevin Raftery

Disappointment of the week: Illinois loses twice, continues slide down standings

Losing at Indiana and Michigan isn’t necessarily unexpected but Bruce Weber and his team now find themselves in a desperate situation. Illinois has now lost six of its last seven, with the one ugly 42-41 win over Michigan State. After starting 4-1 in league play, the Illini are very much on the bubble and could be on the outside looking in if they are unable to regain some consistency down the stretch. Wins over Ohio State and Michigan State are a nice feather in the cap but Illinois still has road trips to Ohio State and Wisconsin as well as difficult home games against Purdue and Michigan ahead. – Kevin Raftery

Unsung hero of the week: Zack Novak

For his entire career, Zack Novak has been the master of doing the little things — hustling after loose balls, grabbing offensive rebounds, taking charges, making threes and influencing the game in a host of other ways that an average spectator might not notice. Now, Novak has reached a milestone that anybody can respect. In Michigan’s 62-46 win at Nebraska on Wednesday, Novak notched his 1,000th-career point and became just the 28th player in Michigan history to have 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. Novak, along with fellow senior Stu Douglass, has been the glue that’s held the Wolverines together throughout his career. In reality, Novak has been one of Michigan’s unsung heroes for the last four years. Not one to relish the spotlight, Novak has done his job on a daily basis and asked nothing for it but the same type of effort from his teammates. Unsung hero may be a great way to describe the senior’s career as a whole. – Kevin Raftery

Upcoming game(s) of the week: No. 22 Wisconsin at No. 12 Michigan State, 7 p.m Thursday; No. 3 Ohio State at No. 25 Michigan, 9 p.m Saturday

It’s difficult to truly pick between a huge primetime Saturday night game between the Wolverines and the Buckeyes, or Thursday’s matchup between No. 22 Wisconsin and No. 12 Michigan State. However, sometimes in life you’ve just got to make difficult decisions… This is not one of those times. Both of these games hold too much importance to choose one over the other. The Buckeyes currently stand tied for first in the conference alongside Michigan State with a 9-3 record. Michigan is nipping at their heels at 9-4, while Wisconsin comes into its matchup against Michigan State at 8-4. A win for either Michigan and/or Wisconsin will greatly shake up the conference standings and will make for a very exciting finish to regular season play. March is now just over two weeks away. It’s time for the cream of the crop to rise to the top. – Kevin Raftery

  • MGoTweeter

    Looking at those schedules, I dont see any team doing better than 14-4 and I would not be shocked if it ends with a three way tie at 13-5.  For Michigan, the game against Ohio is obviously huge.  Win that and a chance at a title is very real, lose and they probably need a lot of help to earn a share of the title.

    • Azad

       I mean I am certainly rooting for a big 10 title but not expecting it…we really do give ourselves a legit shot if we beat Ohio Saturday.  I think with improved performances from Hardaway and Smotrycz (plus hopefully some better defensive rebounding), we will certainly be in this game against them Saturday.  What an opportunity for this team and for Novak and Douglass down the stretch, it’s awesome.

  • Champswest

    Ohio had a terrible shooting night and seemed out of sync the entire game.  Much of that was caused by MSU. but I expect Ohio to win the rematch.

  • Michigan4

    Looking at the schedules, it definitely appears that UM has the easiest finish to the season of the top four teams.  Road games at Illinois, Northwestern, and Penn State are all very winable, and I like our chances against anyone at home.

    A llittle recruiting news, Glenn Robinson III continued his dominate senior season with 24 points and 16 rebounds in Lake Central’s 58-44 win over Valporaiso.  The win clinched LC’s first ever conference championship.  More and more people are starting to talk about this kid, especially after how well he handled himself after being snubbed for the McDonald’s All-American game.  Great player and an even better kid.

    Zak Irvin continued his great play, scoring a game high 23 points in #1 Hamilton Southeastern’s 58-56 win over #3 Carmel.  Irvin continues to get better and is as much a force as Gary Harris for Indiana’s top high school team.

  • rlcBlue

    How important is veteran leadership? I have no idea, but be prepared for a lot of talk about it in the media as the stretch run continues. Here’s the conference, ranked by KenPom’s effective experience measure:

    Exp  Team
    2.53 Nebraska
    1.99 Northwestern
    1.93 Purdue
    1.85 Wisconsin
    1.65 Indiana
    1.61 Michigan St
    1.59 Iowa
    1.52 Michigan
    1.43 Illinois
    1.28 Penn St
    1.26 Minnesota
    1.25 Ohio St

    Clearly experience alone doesn’t get you anything but a pile of husked corn, but having the most talent doesn’t guarantee wins, either. I’m thinking the Bucknuts are not going to be able to close out the season with the two wins in Michigan that they would need to win the title. Part of the reason for that is that William Buford is not Draymond Green, Jordan Taylor, or Zack Novak. He may well be a better NBA player than any of those three, but he’s not the leader of his team.

  • Hokeisit

    Just curious…what statistic is that top chart ordered by?

    • http://www.umhoops.com/ Dylan Burkhardt

      Efficiency margin.

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