Big Ten report

The Gophers aren't expected to be one of the top teams in the conference this year, but find out about the competition and the contenders in this year's Big Ten with reports from each of the remaining 10 camps.

ILLINOIS

A competitive loss to North Carolina is one thing, a 19-point defeat at the hands of Providence is quite another.

There was panic and finger-pointing in the locker room after the Illini were blown out of Madison Square Garden by the Friars. The 70-51 defeat was a shocker of massive proportions. Not only did the Illini get off to a 12-0 lead, they also took a six-point advantage into halftime.

Bruce Weber thought his team was in a good position to win the game, but the motion offense went into low gear in the second 20 minutes. The Friars won the second half by an unthinkable 25 points and were able to run the Illini off the Garden floor.

While there appeared to be no emotion at all in the second 20 minutes, there was plenty in the locker room.
"We quit and that's sad," said guard Deron Williams. "That's not what Illinois is all about. We've never been known to quit and that's just what happened."
Guard Dee Brown echoed Williams' sentiments. However, don't believe that the team "quit" on Weber and won't be able to recover. Illinois got hit with a barrage in the second half and just did not know how to counter punch.

Weber now has to find a way to rally his troops with home games coming up against Maryland-Eastern Shore and Memphis. While the Illini was held to a total of 28 points below its season-long scoring average against Providence, the key is the Illini defense. If they can pick it up and force turnovers and protect their homecourt, the Illini has a chance to get on track and put an end to all the talk about quitting.

NOTES AND QUOTES
While the Illini is the top shooting team in the Big Ten — 48.4 percent — they rank just eighth in three-point percentage at 29.4. They were at their worst in the Dec. 9 loss to Providence when they made just 2-of-15 from beyond the arc.
  • There's every reason to believe the 70-51 loss to Providence was something of a fluke. Illinois normally averages 79 ppg and have a very consistent offense. Not only can the Illini shoot it, but they are averaging a conference-leading 19.3 assists per game. That should lead to plenty of easy baskets in most games.

    PROBABLE LINEUP: Forward James Augustine, forward Roger Powell, center Nick Smith, guard Dee Brown, guard Deron Williams
    QUOTE TO NOTE: "This was a huge game for them. We just played Temple and North Carolina. I'm not sure it was as big for us." — Illinois head coach Bruce Weber on the 19-point loss to Providence.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
    UPCOMING GAMES: vs. Memphis, Saturday, Dec. 13.

    KEYS: The Illini should be able to get back on track at home. However, head coach Bruce Weber is going to have to get his players to turn up their intensity or their home-court advantage will dissipate. The Illini had no aggressiveness against Providence and seemed fearful about taking the ball to the hole. Illinois had just eight free-throw attempts against the Friars — and that indicates a listless attitude. Memphis head coach John Calipari will try to test the Illini resolve with his quick defense. Senior guard Antonio Burks has quick hands and is a fine passer.

    PERSONNEL/INJURIES
  • Luther Head, Aaron Spears and Richard McBride returned from their suspensions and all played against Providence. Head struggled to find his rhythm and made just 1-of-6 shots from the field.
  • Forward Roger Powell is averaging 14.7 ppg and is shooting the ball very well. He is fourth in the Big Ten with a mark of 64.8 percent from the field.
  • Guards Deron Williams (7.0 assists per game) and Dee Brown (4.3 apg) may be the quickest and best-passing guard tandem in the Big Ten.


    INDIANA

    Indiana got a much-needed confidence boost in their 66-63 win at Notre Dame.

    The victory showed that the Hoosiers could win a key game on the road and bounce back from two painful defeats in a row.

    Indiana had been overpowered in a loss to Wake Forest and then failed on its home court against Missouri. But against Notre Dame, Bracey Wright took much of the offensive responsibility on his shoulders to get the Hoosiers going in the right direction. Wright scored 19 points and looked very much like the leader of this team he is supposed to be.
    Wright also got help from Sean Kline who had 12 points and junior guard Ryan Tapak, who hit a clutch three-pointer in the final minute to give the Hoosiers a little breathing room.

    Indiana led throughout, but Notre Dame kept eating into the lead in the final 10 minutes. Tapak's shot came off a pass from Wright who spotted his open teammate as he was being double-teamed.

    The win left head coach Mike Davis feeling good about his team's opportunities this season. When his star can find the open man when the game is on the line, that bodes well once the Hoosiers get into Big Ten competition at the start of the new year.

    NOTES AND QUOTES
    With the 66-63 win over Notre Dame, the Hoosiers have extended their winning streak over the Irish to eight games.
  • In the win over Notre Dame, the Hoosiers went 4:15 without a basket late in the second half after A.J. Moye's three-point play gave the Hoosiers a nine-point lead.

    PROBABLE LINEUP: Forward Sean Kline, forward Patrick Ewing Jr., guard Bracey Wright, guard Roderick Wilmont, guard Marshall Strickland.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "We need our guys to step up and play 40 minutes of basketball. We had a good half against Xavier and a good half against Missouri, but we just haven't been consistent." — Indiana head coach Mike Davis to the Indianapolis Star on the inconsistencies that have hurt Indiana in the first part of the season.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
    UPCOMING GAMES: vs. Butler, Saturday, Dec. 13.

    KEYS: The Hoosiers are feeling much better after getting a win at Notre Dame. However, they have to put that win behind them and give Butler their full concentration. The Bulldogs play tough and resilient basketball and won't be intimidated by playing at Indiana.

    PERSONNEL/INJURIES
  • Center George Leach sprained his ankle in the opening game of the season against North Carolina-Greensboro. He remains out of the lineup and the Hoosiers hope he can return early in the Big Ten portion of the schedule..
  • Guard Bracey Wright is second in the Big Ten in scoring with an average of 21.4 ppg.
  • Guard Marshall Strickland leads the Hoosiers in assists and free-throw shooting. He could become an important part of the formula for the Hoosiers once the Big Ten portion of the schedule begins.


    IOWA

    The Hawkeyes are generally one of the most aggressive and physical teams in the Big Ten. That attitude and toughness under the boards allowed them to get off to a 6-0 start.

    However, when they traveled across state Dec. 9 to take on the underdog Northern Iowa Panthers, they met their own mirror image.

    It was the classic David-and-Goliath syndrome. Northern Iowa was anxious to make a statement against the 24th-rated Hawkeyes and they did just that in a 77-66 victory. Northern Iowa had a shoddy night shooting from beyond the arc — it made just 3-of-17 three-pointers — but was solid from two-point range. The Panther made 25-of-46 shots as they wore down the Hawkeye defense with their aggressive play inside.

    The key was Iowa's inability to use its superior athletic talent to get into a running game with Northern Iowa. Panther head coach Greg McDermott said his team made a commitment on the defensive end to keep the Hawkeyes from getting easy shots.
    "I thought we wore into them," McDermott told the Des Moines Register. "We took them out of their transition in the first half. I thought the shots Pierre Pierce was making the first half — if we could wear into him, I thought he'd have trouble making those shots as the game wore on. We went to the bench just enough to keep our guys fresh."
    Pierce led the Hawkeyes with 15 points — but 14 of them came in the first half when the Hawkeyes took a 21-19 lead into the locker room.

    The Hawkeyes are off until Dec. 22 when they travel to Texas Tech in what should be a memorable confrontation against Bob Knight's team. The back story in this one is teacher vs. student as Steve Alford goes up against his former head coach at Indiana.

    NOTES AND QUOTES
    It may be hard to predict upsets, but the pundits could have looked at Iowa's previous trips to Northern Iowa and seen that they have not gone well. The Panthers have beaten the Hawkeyes in three of their last four trips to the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
  • The Hawkeyes' defense has been getting the job done most nights. They lead the conference in FG percentage allowed, as they have held opponents to 37.2 percent shooting from the field. They had a bit of a lapse against Northern Iowa, but that area looks fairly solid with the conference season looming.

    PROBABLE LINEUP: Guard Brody Boyd, guard Jeff Horner, center Jared Reiner, guard Pierre Pierce, forward Greg Brunner.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "They out-played us. They out-hustled us. They kicked our butts in every aspect of the game." — Guard Jeff Horner on his team's effort against Northern Iowa.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
    UPCOMING GAMES: Off until Dec. 22 when the Hawkeyes travel to Texas Tech.

    KEYS: As unfocused as the Hawkeyes were in the Dec. 9 loss to Northern Iowa, they should have no problems getting up for Bob Knight and the Red Raiders. This game clearly means a lot to head coach Steve Alford, who played for Knight when both were at Indiana.

    PERSONNEL/INJURIES
  • Forward Pierre Pierce has come back from last year's off-the-court related suspension to become the go-to guy for the Hawkeyes. He is averaging a team-high 16.1 ppg.
  • Forward Glen Worley did not play against Northern Iowa. He was expected to be back in the lineup after a hand injury, but was scratched from the lineup.
  • Center Jared Reiner continues to get the job done on the boards. He is fifth in the Big Ten in rebounding with 8.1 boards per game. Iowa leads the Big Ten in rebounding differential at plus-10.9 rebounds per game.


    MICHIGAN

    The trip to Vanderbilt — deep in the heart of SEC country — turned out to be a debacle for the Wolverines.

    Michigan dropped an 83-63 decision and that game indicates that the Wolverines lack maturity and seasoning. Those factors will come into play when Michigan goes on the road during the Big Ten season.

    The Commodores dictated the pace of the game throughout, but Michigan appeared to claw its way back into the game in the second half as it drew to within eight points of the lead at the 10-minute mark. However, the Commodores used a 16-3 run to put the game away.

    Normally a strong rebounding team, the Wolverines got hammered by the Commodores. Vanderbilt won the rebounding battle by a remarkable 42-24 margin. Head coach Tommy Amaker couldn't believe his players would absorb that kind of beating.
    "I am disappointed by the rebounding margin," Amaker said. "This is the first time we've been outrebounded this year and I can't remember the last time we have been outrebounded by this much. We need to put emphasis on this to get better. I think we'll improve."
    The first chance to show that improvement will be against Bowling Green on Dec. 13.

    NOTES AND QUOTES
    Despite their performance against Vanderbilt, the Wolverines have generally gotten the edge in the rebounding battle. Michigan is plus 5.6 rebounds per game on their opponents.
  • The Wolverines were beaten easily by Vanderbilt, with the final margin growing to 20 points. They hadn't lost by 20 points or more since they went to Wisconsin on Feb. 26 and lost a 73-42 decision.

    PROBABLE LINEUP: Guard Daniel Horton, forward Bernard Robinson, guard Lester Abram, center Courtney Sims, guard Chris Hunter.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "We just didn't do a good job of being tough. They were simply tougher than we were tonight. We take pride in our defense, our toughness and our shooting, but we didn't execute any of those tonight." — Michigan sophomore guard Daniel Horton on the 83-63 loss at Vanderbilt.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
    UPCOMING GAMES: vs. Bowling Green, Saturday, Dec. 13
    KEYS: The Wolverines need to do a better job of sustaining their effort when they go on the road against a solid opponent. They can't do anything about that aspect of their game when they host the Falcons, but head coach Tommy Amaker plans to work on getting a more intense effort on a consistent basis.

    PERSONNEL/INJURIES
  • Guard Daniel Horton gave the Wolverines a major spark last year. However, his shooting eye appears to have clouded over. He is shooting 34.5 percent from the field.
  • Forward Bernard Robinson is the key to Michigan's success this year. Robinson leads the Wolverines in scoring (12.4 ppg), assists (3.6) and rebounding (6.0) through their first five games.
  • Forward J.C. Mathis is giving Robinson some help on the boards by averaging 4.8 rebounds per game.


    MICHIGAN STATE

    It may be a bit of an overstatement, but it seems the Spartans don't care about their non-conference won-loss record. If they did, they wouldn't have teams like Duke and Oklahoma on the schedule.

    Michigan State almost never plays the Ferris States of the world as Tom Izzo chooses to take the path with the most resistance. That path leads directly to Kentucky on Dec. 13.

    This meeting will fall under the heading of "spectacle."
    The game is expected to draw more than 75,000 fans at Ford Field in downtown Detroit. Ford Field is the home of the NFL's Detroit Lions. If the crowd does exceed that mark, it would be a new basketball record. The Harlem Globetrotters drew 75,000 for a game in Berlin on Aug. 21, 1951.

    But there's more to the season than drawing a monstrous crowd and running the gauntlet during the preseason. The Spartans are having problems with their shooting. Against Oklahoma, the Spartans made just 16-of-44 shots from the field. Much of that had to do with the Sooners' defensive intensity, as they basically contested every Spartan shot and pass.

    Despite the losses to Kansas, Duke and Oklahoma, Izzo has no second thoughts about a schedule that has been as difficult as anyone's in recent memory.
    "I'm going to play these kind of games next year and the years after — until they fire me," Izzo said. "The only thing I did wrong was the timing of our games. Not only did we play Kansas, Duke and Oklahoma in 12 days, but in between, we played Penn and DePaul."

    NOTES AND QUOTES
    The Spartans have always been one of the most active and defensively aware teams in the Big Ten, and their ability to steal the ball on defense and protect it on offense has been one of the keys to their success in the Tom Izzo era. However, that's not the case this year.
    The Spartans are at minus-0.33 on the turnover table — a figure that ranks eighth in the Big Ten.
  • The Spartans have also had problems on the boards — another traditional strength under Izzo. They are averaging just 22.7 defensive rebounds per game — a figure that ranks 10th in the Big Ten.
  • Here's another shocker. The Spartans rank dead last in FG defense as opponents have made 45.8 percent of their shots. By comparison, Iowa opponents are shooting just 37.2 percent from the floor.

    PROBABLE LINEUP: Guard Chris Hill, center Paul Davis, guard Kelvin Torbert, forward Alan Anderson, guard Maurice Ager.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "If Tom wants to play that schedule, then God bless him. I'm glad I don't have to." — Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson on Michigan State's non-conference schedule that has seen the Spartans play Kansas, Duke, Oklahoma and also features Kentucky.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
    UPCOMING GAMES: vs. Kentucky, Saturday, Dec. 13, at Ford Field, Detroit.

    KEYS: The "BasketBowl" with Tubby Smith's Wildcats is expected to draw 75,000 fans to Ford Field, the home of the NFL's Lions. The Spartans need to do a better job on the boards and also be more careful when it comes to protecting the basketball.

    PERSONNEL/INJURIES
  • Center Paul Davis is the Spartans' leading scorer. He is averaging 12.7 ppg through the first six games of the season.
  • Guard Brandon Cotton is out indefinitely with a foot injury.
  • Guard Chris Hill may hold the key to the Spartan offense. He is averaging a team-high 4.5 assists per game and is not afraid to take the key shot when the game is on the line.


    NORTHWESTERN

    The Wildcats are gaining respect around the Big Ten. Not only because their players give a solid effort on a night-in, night-out basis, but because head coach Bill Carmody has won the stamp of approval from coaches around the conference.

    Veteran Purdue head coach Gene Keady has said that Carmody does as "good a job as anyone at preparing his team to play." Wisconsin's Bo Ryan and Michigan State's Tom Izzo have also credited Carmody with getting maximum effort from his team on a regular basis.

    The Wildcats may not have the size and strength to battle Big Ten opponents on a night-in, night-out basis, but they are climbing the ladder. In years past, road games were always a disaster for Northwestern. In their most recent trip away from Evanston, the Wildcats recorded a 17-point triumph over Bowling Green.

    In their 77-60 win over a Bowling Green team that had won 20 straight non-consecutive home games before the Wildcats came to town, guard Jitim Young had 23 points and forward Vedran Vukusic scored 20 points. The Wildcat frontcourt has plenty of issues — lack of size and strength being the main ones — but they came to play against a team they could dominate.

    Vukusic was especially strong at the start of the second half. He hit two three-pointers and a short jumper right after the break to help the Wildcats build a double-digit lead that made the difference in the game.

    "It's great to get a road win, especially at a venue like this," Carmody said. "Even more gratifying was that we played pretty well. It's been a tough stretch here early in the season, but I'm pleased with the way we've progressed."
    Northwestern will try to keep it going when athletic Arizona State goes to Evanston Dec. 17.

    NOTES AND QUOTES
    The Wildcats came through with an excellent shooting effort in the 77-60 win over Bowling Green. Northwestern made 26-of-49 shots from the field (53.1 percent) and many of their shots were wide open looks as a result of good passing and solid screens.
  • Northwestern can shoot it from deep. The Wildcats lead the Big Ten with a mark of 38.1 percent from beyond the arc this season.
  • Defense remains the key to Northwestern's long-term success this season. He is fourth in the Big Ten in scoring defense, allowing 63.6 points per game.
    PROBABLE LINEUP: Guard Jitim Young, guard T.J. Parker, center Davor Duvancic, forward Vedran Vukusic, guard Mohammed Hachad.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's (Northwestern) the best team that has come in here since I have been coach. I don't know where they are going to end up in the Big Ten, but I know they play really, really hard and very, very well." — Bowling Green head coach Dan Dakich

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
    KEYS: This could be a very difficult game for Northwestern, despite the improvement that the Wildcats have made. The Sun Devils are athletic and competitive and head coach Rob Evans has a true superstar in center Ike Diogu. The Wildcats don't appear to have the size or strength to stop him.

    PERSONNEL/INJURIES
  • Forward Patrick Towne is expected to miss the season with an Achilles' injury..
  • Guard Jitim Young is third in the Big Ten in scoring with an average of 19.0 ppg, and is 10th in rebounds with 6.6 per game.


    OHIO STATE

    After losing at home to Georgia Tech by 20 points, Jim O'Brien wanted to see his team get back on track. The Buckeyes did just that in their 62-57 win over Virginia Tech.

    The game was in Columbus, but it was not in the Value City Arena on the campus of Ohio State. Instead, the game was played in the Nationwide Arena, the home of the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets. Nationwide Arena will host NCAA tournament games next spring and school officials wanted a run through to help make sure the NCAAs go smoothly.

    J.J. Sullinger, a sophomore transfer from Arkansas, showed leadership and the ability to score when he poured in 22 points and had 11 rebounds. Don't be surprised if Sullinger becomes one of the go-to guys this season for the Buckeyes.

    Another transfer — Tony Stockman — scored 14 points and had two three-pointers in the second half that allowed the Buckeyes to take control of the game. The former Clemson player is a big-time shooter who made 155 three-pointers in his tenure with the Tigers.

    The Buckeyes need to establish a scoring presence this year and Sullinger and Stockman appear to be a solid starting point. They should be able to keep it going in home games with Samford and Furman this week

    NOTES AND QUOTES
    The Buckeyes could be in for a long year — according to the numbers. Ohio State ranks 11th in scoring in the Big Ten and 10th in points allowed. Head coach Jim O'Brien is known for his ability to bring teams along and develop cohesiveness and he'll have his work cut out for him this season.
  • Jim O'Brien has to be frustrated with his team at the free-throw line. Ohio State is last in the Big Ten with a mark of 60.5 percent.
  • The Buckeye defense has its problems defending the three. Opponents have connected on 41.5 percent of its shots from beyond the arc. That ranks them last in the Big Ten.

    PROBABLE LINEUP: Guard Tony Stockman, guard J.J. Sullinger, forward Terence Dials, center Velimir Radinovic, guard Brandon Fuss-Cheatham
    QUOTE TO NOTE: "He needs to guard better; he needs to take better care of the basketball; he needs to take better shots; he needs to be more of a leader and he needs to be a little more diligent with some of his habits, even in practice. He's such a bright player at times and he's such a bright kid that whenever I talk to him, I always get the impression he understands everything. ... It's just been hard to get him to go out and carry it out." — Head coach Jim O'Brien to the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Tony Stockman.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
    UPCOMING GAMES: vs. Samford, Saturday, Dec. 13, vs. Furman, Wednesday, Dec. 17.

    KEYS: The Buckeyes got back on the winning track vs. Virginia Tech and should not have problems with either Samford or Furman at home. If the Buckeyes struggle in these games, they could have major issues this season.

    PERSONNEL/INJURIES
  • Guard Tony Stockman leads the team with an average of 15.5 ppg.
  • Guard Brandon Fuss-Cheatham is doing a nice job of distributing the ball, averaging 3.83 assists through the first six games.
  • Guard J.J. Sullinger is shooting an impressive 57.4 percent from the field, having made 31-of-54 shots.


    PENN STATE

    After an impressive start, Ed DeChellis is starting to learn that turning around the Penn State program will be a very difficult task.

    After winning three of their first four games, the Nittany Lions suffered back-to-back defeats against Pittsburgh and Rutgers to fall back to the .500 mark.

    Both defeat were hard to take.
    Against the Panthers, Penn State was blown out from the start. Against Rutgers, the Nittany Lions hoped to have a chance in the late going, but Rutgers took a 13-point victory.

    DeChellis wants his team to be versatile. He hopes it can establish a fast-break attack as well as bang down low. That diversity played out in the first four games, but against Big East opponents, the Lions had a tough time establishing any kind of consistency.

    In the loss to the Panthers, Penn State could not handle Pittsburgh' aggressive defense nor its athleticism. Pittsburgh had a 39-11 lead at the half before recording a 64-37 win.

    Penn State's offense had a difficult stringing passes together — let alone making shots.
    The key for DeChellis is making sure this team doesn't take a loss like that to heart. "You have to learn from every game," DeChellis said. "But you also have to put some games behind you."
    Good advice.

    NOTES AND QUOTES
    Despite losing by 27 points to Pittsburgh on Dec. 6, Penn State is only minus 2.5 on the scoring differential chart for the season.
  • The Nittany Lions have played solid defense through the early part of the season. Opponents are shooting just 40 percent through the first six games.
  • Through the first six games, Penn State had a slight rebounding edge on their opponents, 36.2-35.8.

    PROBABLE LINEUP: Power forward Jan Jagla, guard Marlon Smith, guard DeForrest Riley-Smith, forward Ndu Egekeze, center Robert Summers.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "We were totally out of sync offensively. That is very uncharacteristic of this team." — Penn State head coach Ed DeChellis after his team was beaten by 27 points by Pitt.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
    UPCOMING GAMES: at Temple, Saturday, Dec. 13.

    KEYS: The Nittany Lions have another tough and physical opponent in Temple. Head coach John Chaney might be in more of a foul mood than usual because his team is struggling again early in the season and blew a late lead in a recent game at Arizona State. If the Nittany Lions can absorb an opening salvo and not collapse, they could make it a 40-minute game.

    PERSONNEL/INJURIES
  • Guard DeForrest Riley-Smith is giving Ed DeChellis a nice contribution. He is second on the team in scoring at 10.4 ppg and second in rebounding at 5.8 rpg.
  • Forward Jan Jagla continues to be a dominant player. He is the team's leading scorer with an average of 18.4 ppg.
  • Forward Aaron Johnson is out indefinitely after eye surgery.
  • The Nittany Lions announced Dec. 10 that guard Brandon Cameron requested to be released from scholarship so he could transfer.


    PURDUE

    The Boilermakers were the last undefeated team in the Big Ten, but that status went by the wayside when they went on the road Dec. 11 at Oklahoma.

    The Sooners recently won at Michigan State in overtime, and Kelvin Sampson put another Big Ten pelt on the wall.

    Purdue was playing solid basketball on both ends of the floor. The Purdue defense had been very active and was allowing opponents just 58.7 points per game. The Boilermakers couldn't afford any kind of letdown in that game on the defensive end, because the Sooners run at home when they get the opportunity.

    Gene Keady has been getting after his team in practice, following the trend of many veteran coaches who ride their teams harder when they are winning than during a losing streak. The Boilermakers had a shot at being undefeated when they opened the Big Ten season Jan. 7 against Iowa, but Oklahoma ended that dream.

    NOTES AND QUOTES
    The Boilermakers almost always take care of the fundamentals. Purdue is connecting on 75.5 percent of their free throws, which is second in the Big Ten behind Michigan State.
  • The Boilermakers really know how to defend the perimeter. They are first in three-point defense, allowing just 25.3 percent from beyond the arc.

    PROBABLE LINEUP: Guard Kenneth Lowe, guard David Teague, guard Brandon McKnight, forward Brett Buscher, center Ivan Kartelo.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "Winning the Big Ten title is one of our goals. That's kind of our goal every year, but some years that's not realistic. I think it's realistic this year." — Head coach Gene Keady after Purdue started with a 6-0 record.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
    UPCOMING GAMES: vs. Central Michigan, Saturday, Dec. 13.

    KEYS: The Sooners love to run when they are at home and the Boilermakers have to find a way to slow them down. The Boilermakers have shown the ability to defend the three-pointer and that should come into play against the Sooners. Assuming that the Boilermakers are healthy after playing Oklahoma, they should be able to handle Central Michigan.

    PERSONNEL/INJURIES
  • Guard Kenneth Lowe is fifth in the Big Ten in scoring with an average of 17.8 ppg.
  • Forward Ivan Kartelo is starting to assert himself. He is leading the Boilermakers with 6.8 rebounds per game.
  • Small forward Melvin Buckley can be an explosive scorer. He is connecting on 42.3 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.


    WISCONSIN

    If there's one Big Ten team that is doing just as expected in the early going, it's Bo Ryan's Badgers.

    After an overtime loss to Maryland, the Badgers got on track with back-to-back wins over Detroit and Wisconsin-Green Bay. With this team, there are very few surprises. When they face teams they are supposed to beat, the Badgers do just that and they don't leave their opponents much wiggle room.

    In the 73-57 win over Green Bay, Wisconsin crushed the Phoenix's hope by running off to a 15-point halftime lead and cruising from that point forward. Devin Harris led the way with 18 points and he had help from Freddie Owens with 16 points and Mike Wilkinson with 12.

    It was a game that did not please Ryan because the Badgers were not sharp. Never mind that the Phoenix was really never close; Ryan wants to see his team play much more focused basketball.

    Look for Wisconsin to have a sharper effort against Wisconsin-Milwaukee before they get tested by Marquette later in the month.

    NOTES AND QUOTES
    The Badgers registered a 16-point win over Wisconsin-Green Bay and raised their all-time record against the Phoenix to 10-0.
  • The Badgers are struggling from beyond the arc. They are last in he Big Ten in three-point shooting at 27.7 percent.
  • The Badgers are outscoring their opponents by 15.5 points per game. That margin leads the Big Ten.

    PROBABLE LINEUP: Guard Devin Harris, guard Freddie Owens, forward Mike Wilkinson, forward Zach Morley, center Dave Mader.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "It feels good to be back with the team. Everybody is excited to see how we work. The main thing right now is the stamina." — Sophomore forward Alando Tucker after returning to practice following a foot injury.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
    UPCOMING GAMES: vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Saturday, Dec. 13
    KEYS: Wisconsin just wants to work on its consistency and getting the offense going. This team is very talented from top to bottom and always plays good defense, but head coach Bo Ryan wants this team to be a little more dangerous on the offensive end.

    PERSONNEL/INJURIES
  • Guard Devin Harris is sixth in the Big Ten in scoring at 17.2 ppg.
  • Freshman Center Brian Butch will redshirt this season.
  • After breaking his foot, explosive forward Alando Tucker is back practicing with the Badgers.

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