February 2, 2008

Some thoughts on Big Ten Basketball...

I've been able to watch some basketball today and look forward to watching the big game tomorrow (Wis @ Min of course).

*** To start the season I was a little disappointed that the Gophers only played Iowa once and it was a home game. Obviously my thought process was that any game against a bottom 4 team is preferable to a road game against anybody else. Now I feel fortunate that we don't have to travel to Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes have now beat Michigan State and Ohio State at home, and don't forget the near upset of Indiana. There is a reason they have 6 losses and in the Barn I feel pretty confident that we'll beat them.

*** The vaunted Ohio State zone allowed 11 threes today, including 8 for Justin Johnson. My question is this...Why were the Gophers unable to get any open looks when they played in Columbus last week? We made a total of 6 and Hoffarber was 1/7. Maybe we just didn't shoot it very well, but I think we just didn't get very many good looks.

I hope that Iowa developed a blue print that Tubby and friends will learn to execute on March 1st.

*** What the hell happened to Penn State? This team has looked completely inept since the loss of Claxton (and they weren't much better than inept with him), and now they BEAT? Michigan State? I know it was a home game but the Spartans have been playing great in the last couple weeks. This game has been a lot of fun to watch. The Nittany Lions are finally playing with some fight in them. Again, I'm glad that our only remaining match up on the schedule is at home.

*** There is some very good young talent in the Big Ten. I haven't done any research to compare this to other conferences but the athletic ability and talent of some of these young kids is very good. I'm not talking about Eric Gordon here, I mean there are is a lot of talent that will be in the conference for at least 3 if not 4 years.


  • Kalin Lucas (MSU) - super quick, excellent penetrator and scorer
  • Eric Gordon (IU) - leads league in scoring, will likely be gone very soon
  • Manny Harris (Mich) - 16.3 ppg, 3 apg and 4.5 reb? He is very good.
  • Jordan Crawford (Ind) - 4 games of 16+ pts, a dangerous scorer
  • Jon Dielber (OSU) - a dominant scorer who may need a year to adjust but watch out for him in the coming seasons
  • Evan Turner (OSU) - he doesn't get the press but watch him dominate come March
  • Al Nolen (MN) - leads Big Ten in steals and quietly one of the best on the ball defenders
  • Blake Hoffarber (MN) - may be the best pure shooter in the league, not very athletic
  • Taylor Battle (PSU) - nearly 10 ppg but is really growing into a leader with Claxton out
  • E'Tauwan Moore (Pur) - double figures in 7 of last 8 games, 3 turnovers in last 4 games
  • Demetri McCamey (Ill) - increased scoring avg in conference play by 2+ ppg
  • Michael Thompson (NU) - nearly 5 assists per game and can score too (12.6)
That list isn't exactly in order, but that is a solid list of some very good players. Outside of Gordan that entire list will be playing at least 3 years. There is some serious athleticism and speed listed up there. Conference RPI is cyclical but the Big Ten could be a deep conference over the next few years.

*** I'm tired of hearing how tough it is to play at certain arenas. It seems to be a popular subject lately. Especially Big Ten Network commentators love talking about how Wisconsin and Michigan State are two of the toughest places to play. But is that really true? Do the Badgers and Spartans have a decided home court advantage? Or do they just have gaudy home records because they have really good teams?

What venues are more difficult to others is tough to quantify but I bet a year or two ago Illinois would be on that short list of the toughest places to play. Why? Because they were good not because their student section or a quirky court aided their home games, but I don't think teams are fearing Champaign this year. They are 2-3 at home beating Michigan and Northwestern.

I just think it's dumb.

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