Big Ten Basketball: Ranking the Weekend Performances of 10 B1G Teams in Action
On Saturday, Dec. 1 and Sunday, Dec. 2, 10 of the 12 teams in the Big Ten Conference played their first games since tying the Big Ten-ACC Challenge on Tuesday and Wednesday nights earlier in the week.
All but Illinois and Nebraska hit the hardwood this weekend, one in which Big Ten teams had an overall 8-2 record. Now that the final month of the year has come, it marks the point where Big Ten league play is less than a month away.
First, I will rank the 10 Big Ten teams based on the single game performances they had this weekend:
1) Wisconsin Badgers
After losing at home to Virginia earlier in the week, Bo Ryan's squad responded by soundly beating a now 6-1 Cal Golden Bears team. Ben Brust was one of three Badger players to reach double-figure scoring, as he dropped 22 points, while Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans added 18 and 13, respectively.
2) Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans got back on track after a road loss at Miami earlier in the week by defeating Nicholls State, 84-39. The defensive effort by MSU was rather impressive, as they held the Colonels to only 13 first-half points. Keith Appling led four double-digit scorers for MSU with 13.
3) Minnesota Golden Gophers
Minnesota continued to play excellent team basketball in their 87-59 win over North Florida on Saturday. They also had four double-digit scorers, led by Rodney Williams Jr.'s 14 points. Trevor Mbakwe was effective with 11 points and six rebounds in only 11 minutes of playing time.
4) Indiana Hoosiers
IU became the third straight B1G squad on this list to have four players score 10-plus points, being led by Victor Oladipo and his 14 points. Reserves Will Sheehey and Remy Abell also got into the action, dropping 14 and 10 apiece. IU shot nearly 52 percent from the floor for the game.
5) Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes were given quite the spark off their bench on Saturday, when LaQuinton Ross found his way to 22 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes of playing time. Aaron Craft continued his shooting woes, going 2-for-9 from the field, while Deshaun Thomas was only 5-for-14 in a 70-43 win over Northern Kentucky.
6) Iowa Hawkeyes
After giving up 95 points to Virginia Tech earlier in the week, the Hawkeyes limited Texas A&M Corpus Christi to 59, in an 88-59 win. Melsahn Basabe came off Fran McCaffery's bench to contribute 17 points and five rebounds in only 13 minutes.
7) Michigan Wolverines
The Wolverines held off a 5-2 Bradley squad that is part of a very underrated Missouri Valley Conference, winning 74-66 in Peoria Saturday afternoon. Nick Stauskas led the way with 22 points, after finally breaking the starting lineup. Fellow freshman Mitch McGary only scored two points, however.
8) Penn State Nittany Lions
The Nittany Lions got back on the winning track Saturday at home, defeating Penn 58-47. Jermaine Marshall, DJ Newbill and Brandon Taylor combined for 44 of those 58 points, for a team that is desperately missing All-Big Ten performer Tim Frazier.
9) Purdue Boilermakers
After an impressive road win at Clemson as part of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, the Boilermakers struggled on Saturday in a 63-57 loss to a good Xavier team. Terone Johnson had a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, but DJ Byrd did not score, as he shot 0-for-9 in the game, with all attempts coming from behind the arc.
10) Northwestern Wildcats
The Wildcats were the other B1G team alongside Purdue that dropped its matchup this past weekend. NU lost to Illinois-Chicago 50-44, being limited to only 18 second half points. Seniors Drew Crawford and Reggie Hearn combined for 28 of those points. This was a huge blow for a team hoping to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever.
Wisconsin was the only team in the Big Ten to defeat a team from a BCS conference, and they did so emphatically, automatically justifying them for the No. 1 spot. Spots No. 2 through No. 6 were basically a toss up, as all played less than impressive opponents, so don't read too much into the rankings there.
Michigan has been extremely impressive this season, and although Bradley is without a doubt better than any of the teams that No. 2 through No. 6 played this weekend, they let the Braves hang around in a game where the Wolverines had the clear advantage in athleticism.
Any win at this point is a good win for Penn State, even if it's over an in-state opponent in the Ivy League's Penn. Purdue and Northwestern automatically dropped to No. 9 and No. 10 as they lost. While Xavier is a good team, that was a winnable game for Purdue at home. The same cannot be said for Northwestern's performance against UIC on Saturday at home.
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