The Big Ten Week in Review

After one week of Big Ten play, the Fighting Illini are standing right where they expected to be at 2-0 with wins over Ohio State in Champaign and Purdue in West Lafayette. But what is happening across the rest of the Big Ten? In this latest update, Brumby looks at the last week of Big Ten action, and breaks down where other teams are sitting in the conference race.

First things first, let's take a look at the adjusted Big Ten standings which have four teams (Illinois, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Michigan) winning one road game and three different teams losing at home. The Purdue Boilermakers are sitting in the worst position having already lost two home games. Iowa is also already at -1 in the adjusted standings after having lost a home game to Michigan on Wednesday night. The only true shock in all of this is probably Michigan defeating Iowa in Carver Hawkeye Arena, all the other road wins were expected.

INDIANA HOOSIERS (6-7, 1-1, -)
The Hoosiers are 1-1 after the first week of play with a disappointing loss to Northwestern on Wednesday night in Evanston. All though Indiana fans are never used to losing to Northwestern, the fact that it was Indiana's worse loss to Northwestern since 1914 gad the Indianapolis papers once again talking about the fate of Mike Davis before the Hoosiers game against Wisconsin.

The Indiana fans and the rest of the fans across the Big Ten were expecting Indiana to start the Big Ten season 0-2 as Wisconsin was coming to town, but Indiana's Bracey Wright had a different idea. He scored 30 points and shot 11-of-22 from the floor on Saturday night as the Hoosiers blitzed the Badgers early and then held on in the second half for 74-61 win on Saturday evening.

Star Watch: Bracey Wright - Sure, he is maligned because he shoots the ball too much, but he is simply Indiana's best player and the only person that Indiana can consistently count on to score points for them. (1.13 points per shot adjusted for free throws or PPSA)

Keep Your Eye On: DJ White & Robert Vaden - These freshmen give Indiana fans hope for the future. Sure it would have been nice had Josh Smith decided to enroll at Indiana instead of taking the NBA millions, but these two freshmen are fun players to watch.

DJ White is averaging 12.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game while averaging 1.26 PPSA. He has started all thirteen games for the Hoosiers, and gives Indiana a solid presence on the inside. Due to his relative lack of experience, he still has issues staying out of foul trouble. He averages just under three fouls a game, and he has fouled out of two games already this season.

Robert Vaden is someone who almost every Purdue fan probably hates more than your typical Hoosier for the reasons surrounding his recruitment. He is Indiana's third leading scorer at 9.5 points per game, and he is nearly automatic from the free throw line (26-29 this season).

Continuing to Fall out of Favor: Marshall Strickland - Strickland has been removed from his point guard duties at times due to turning the ball over too much, but that is not his biggest problem. He simply cannot make jump shots. He is shooting 35% from the floor, and 27.5% from behind the three point line.
IOWA HAWKEYES (12-3, 0-2, -1)
There is probably no team in the Big Ten that is as disappointed with their conference start as the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Hawkeyes were expected by many (myself included) to compete with Illinois, Michigan State, and Wisconsin for the Big Ten Conference Championship, but with two early losses including one at home, the Hawkeyes find themselves on the outside looking in already in this conference season.

On Wednesday night, the Hawkeyes were blitzed by the Wolverines who built up a 16-point first half lead in the first half. The second half was much better for the Hawkeyes, but they were not able to pull out the victory after tying the game at 59 with 1:31 left. On Saturday, the Hawkeyes were looking to come back and get a road victory over the surprising Ohio State Buckeyes, but despite 31 points from Pierre Pierce Ohio State controlled the game from start to finish en route to a 81-69 win in Columbus.

Star Watch: Jeff Horner - Despite Pierre Pierce leading the team in scoring with 17.9 points per game, it is Jeff Horner that is the player that makes the Hawkeyes click. When Horner is playing well, Iowa will win, but when Horner struggles, the Hawkeyes struggle. In Iowa's two Big Ten losses, Horner has combined for 8-20 shooting (4-11 from behind the arc), 6 assists and 6 turnovers. Look no further than Jeff Horner if you want to see how the Hawkeyes will be playing on the season.

Where has he gone: Adam Haluska - Haluska was supposed to provide a three point threat for the Iowa backcourt that could hit shots off of Pierre Pierce's drives (when he decided to pass), but against Ohio State he only played 15 minutes and only attempted three shots.

Falling out of Favor: Steve Alford? - Are Iowa fans sick of finishing under .500 in conference play and without an NCAA Tournament appearances? Is this the season where Alford needs to rally the troops for an NCAA appearance or his job is in jeopardy? FireSteveAlford.com sure thinks so.
MICHIGAN (10-5, 1-0, +1)
The only conference game the Wolverines played this week was their win over Iowa in Carver Hawkeye Arena. The Wolverines picked up a tough road win in a place where it is not expected many people will win, Carver Hawkeye Arena. Sure, they were helped by the snow storm that kept half of the fans home on Wednesday night, but a win in a hostile environment is a win, especially for a team that has suffered through as many injuries as the Wolverines.

Star Watch: Daniel Horton - The game against Iowa was Daniel Horton's first game back from injury, and he was up for the task of playing against the Iowa guards. In just 26 minutes of play, he scored 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor. If Michigan is going to compete for the Big Ten Conference Championship, they will need a healthy Horton on the perimeter.
MICHIGAN STATE (10-2, 2-0, +1)
The Spartans started out Big Ten play with a road contest at Penn State. No one was hurt, and they won handily which makes for a good road trip to Happy Valley for any Big Ten team. Saturday, the Spartans welcomed Northwestern into East Lansing, and they promptly reminded the Wildcats that they were Northwestern with a 87-58 beat down.

Star Watch: Alan Anderson - When you watch Michigan State there is one player that does everything on the court for Tom Izzo's Spartans, Alan Anderson. In two Big Ten games he is averaging 15 points, 3 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game all while playing an under-sized power forward and sometimes bringing the ball up the court. Sure, Maurice Ager shoots the ball better, Paul Davis has the bigger name (more on him in a second), and Shannon Brown is a better dunker, but no one is as good of a basketball player as Alan Anderson.

Cramp Watch: Paul Davis - Two Big Ten games, and no wincing from cramps for Paul Davis, but that is probably because he has barely exerted himself. Against Northwestern he had a very good game scoring 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting with 9 rebounds, but against Penn State he was unspectacular with 8 points and 8 rebounds.
MINNESOTA (11-3, 1-0, -)
If you want to see a team that has amassed double digit wins while staying under the radar for the entire season, look no further than Minneapolis, MN and the Golden Gophers. Sure Dan Monson lined up the Gopher schedule with teams that would make Billy Gillispie down at Texas A & M jealous, but no one expected Minnesota to actually win these games.

In their only Big Ten game of this week, the Gophers beat up on Penn State, a team that I thought they would be fighting it out for in the cellar of the conference. Sure they probably will both still finish 10-11 in the conference, but Penn State should have put up more effort than a 21 point loss to the Golden Gophers.

Star (If you can call it that) Watch: Vincent Grier - Grier is leading the Gophers in scoring with 17.8 points per game this season, and he is their one true offensive threat. Grier is taking 11 shots per game, by far the most on Minnesota, and he is converting on those shot attempts (1.29 PPSA).

Player to Watch: Brent Lawson - This reserve senior forward is one of the more efficient offensive players in the Big Ten. He is playing 29 minutes per game, but he is only attempting 4.5 shots per game. When he shoots the ball, expect the shot to go in as he is shooting 64.4% from the floor and has a PPSA of 1.51.
NORTHWESTERN (8-6, 1-1, -)
The Wildcats made Indiana wish it was 1914 during Wednesday night's beat down of the Hoosiers in Evanston. Then on Saturday afternoon in East Lansing, they were reminded that they were still Northwestern and Michigan State was still Michigan State. Sure, they were playing without TJ Parker (for the most part as he played five minutes) against the Spartans, but they were thoroughly outclassed on the afternoon by Michigan State.

Star Watch: Vedran Vukusic - Or "Vuku!" as his fans call him. He is Northwestern's best player and he provides match up problems for any team trying to defend him. There has only been one game this season when Vukusic has scored less than 10 (a win against Texas Pan American), and he has scored 15 or more nine times including two games of twenty or more.

Duke Transfer Watch: Michael Thompson - The center from Joliet was supposed to bring some inside presence into the vaunted "Princeton" offense run by Bill Carmody at Northwestern. He is definitely providing some inside presence for the Wildcats, and they have gone 6-2 since he became eligible (losses were to Arizona State and Michigan State).
OHIO STATE (12-3, 1-1, -)
Some might call Ohio State the surprise team of the Big Ten this season with their 12-3 record, and winning seven of their last eight. Thad Matta took over a program that was riddled with NCAA sanctions thanks to Jim O'Brien, and he has ensured the Buckeyes played better than they did last season.

The Buckeyes loss in conference came to Illinois, but they scored 40 points in the first half before Illinois tightened up the defense in the Illini's 84-65 victory in Champaign on Wednesday night. On Saturday afternoon, the Buckeyes hosted an Iowa team that was reeling from a loss to Michigan on their home floor. The Buckeyes jumped out on Iowa and controlled the game from whistle to whistle.

Star Watch: Tony Stockman - The senior transfer from Clemson is proving to be a valuable asset for the Buckeyes this season. He is shooting 41.7% from behind the arc, and is scoring 14.6 points per game.
PENN STATE (6-9, 0-2, -1)
Next beat down comes via the hands of the Illini in Champaign on Wednesday night.
PURDUE (4-8, 0-2, -2)
It is hard to start out your Big Ten schedule with games against Wisconsin and Illinois, but that is what the Boilermakers were faced with in 2005. They started out with two of the best teams in the conference and they lost both of them inside of Mackey Arena, giving them an adjusted Big Ten standing of -2, the worst possible outcome. Gene Keady's final year in West Lafayette does not look like it will be a happy one for the longtime Purdue coach.

Star Watch: Carl Landry - Illinois fans saw first hand what Carl Landry has been doing this season, making shots and rebounding. Landry is averaging 18.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while shooting 62.3% from the floor. His PPSA is 1.35, and it is down so low as compared to his standard PPS (1.89) because he is only shooting 69.8% from the free throw line.
WISCONSIN (10-3, 1-1, +1)
Sure Wisconsin was supposed to leave Indiana 2-0 after in their only trek to the state this year in conference play, but one slip up will not hurt them in the long run. Despite Indiana not being the Indiana of normal, winning in Assembly Hall (the other one) is not something that should be expected of many teams this Big Ten season.

Where were you?: Sharif Chambliss your 0-7, 0 assist, 4 turnover performance on Saturday night did not go by without notice. That is unacceptable, and proof that Wisconsin is still looking for a point guard to replace Devin Harris despite how good Kammron Taylor is playing.

Star Watch: Mike Wilkinson - With the attention of opposing defenses on him, Wilkinson's numbers have dipped slightly from last season, but not enough to notice. Wilkinson's shooting percentage is down 1 percent, his scoring is down 0.7 points per game, his rebounding is down 0.5 per game, and he is turning the ball over 0.3 times per game more. Wisconsin needed Wilkinson to step up, not down, and they are still looking for him to do so.


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