|Team||W||L||Poss.||Off. Eff.||Def. Eff.||Eff. Margin|
With a two game lead record wise, it should come as no surprise that Ohio State has emerged as the conference leader in terms of efficiency margin. Ohio State has the conference’s best defense and trails Wisconsin and Purdue on the offensive end by just a hair. It’s still two weeks away but Ohio State will receive its first true test with a road trip to Madison.
Purdue and Wisconsin, despite their rough weeks, are finding a niche in the conference’s second tier. The Badgers and Boilermakers will square off this week in Madison as they try to keep pace with Ohio State. Purdue took a beating in Columbus but the Boilers are still just two games back in the standings with a home game against Ohio State still to play.
Illinois is falling fast, having lost four of its last five games, but the Illini are still a more efficient team than the others in the middle of the pack. Penn State, Minnesota, and Michigan State are all right around the break even point, as would be expected for teams hovering around .500. It’s worth noting that Minnesota has four remaining road games compared to Michigan State, Illinois, and Penn State with five.
Michigan has trudged up to 10th place with slightly better defense but mostly due to much better offense. Iowa has established itself as the conferences bottom feeder with the only offense scoring less than a point per possession. —Dylan Burkhardt
Surprise, disappointment, unsung hero, game, and stat line of the week after the jump.
Surprise of the week: Penn State’s victory over Wisconsin in the friendly confines of the Bryce Jordan Center . Before its game against Michigan State, Michigan hadn’t beaten the Spartans at Breslin in 12 years. Penn State hadn’t beaten the Badgers — period — in eight. The Nittany Lions finally ended the 12-game losing streak against Wisconsin on Saturday behind 20 second-half points from Talor Battle and 12 points from Jeff Brooks. Taking a look at Penn State’s season, I suppose it’s a bit of a misnomer to characterize this win as a “surprise” as it was the Lions’ third home upset of a top-25 team — the first two wins came against Michigan State and Illinois.
Disappointment of the week: Purdue losing at Ohio State by 23. I don’t think many expected Purdue to win this game, but it would have been encouraging to see them play a competitive game. In many regards this was also about Ohio State proving that they are the class of the conference. Purdue entered the game after a huge home win over Michigan State but were out of this game almost immediately. To be fair, the Buckeyes played almost flawlessly, getting incredible production across the board: Six –six! — players (Jared Sullinger, Aaron Craft, William Buford, John Deibler, DeShaun Thomas and David Lighty) scored in double figures, with Buford leading the way with 19 points on only eight shots from the field. Purdue, on the other hand, got little production from players not named Johnson and Moore and put up little opposition.
Unsung hero: Jordan Hulls, Indiana. The sophomore guard had a great week, scoring 18 points in a victory over Illinois and 17 in an overtime loss at Michigan State. He averages 10 points per game on the season and really stepped his game up this week. The win over Illinois was huge for an Indiana team that is struggling mightily in the Big Ten. Before Illinois, the only other Big Ten victory for the Hoosiers was Michigan at home. The win over the Illini allowed Indiana to go into the Breslin Center with a little bit of momentum and confidence with an opportunity to knock off the reeling Spartans. Of course, this leads me into the…
Game of the week: Michigan State’s overtime win over Indiana at home. The Spartans’ basketball season reminds me of one of the best college basketball books ever written: A Season on the Brink by John Feinstein. It seems like Michigan State is teetering on the brink and has been all year. This game against Indiana had a chance to completely obliterate their season, especially after one of the most deflating losses in recent memory, at home against Michigan. Indiana gave the Spartans all they could handle, but Jeremiah Rivers missed some key free throws that would have gone a long way toward sealing the game for the Hoosiers — he missed on the front end of a one-and-one with 42 seconds left in regulation and later made just one of two with 19 seconds left.
Stat line of the week: This one has to be Darius Morris with his 12-11-10 triple double. The third triple-double in Michigan history, and the first since Manny Harris got one against Northern Michigan last year, deserves this honor. Darius claimed in the locker room that all he knew about it was Lavall Jordan telling him to keep rebounding near the end of the game, but Tim Hardaway Jr. said Darius was letting everyone know when he only needed one more board. Darius was pretty much dominant — he dominated the pace of the game, he was solid defensively and he ran the offense smoothly. He would have had a few more assists if Jordan Morgan hadn’t been so obsessed with slowing the game down instead of converting easy layups. — Joe Stapleton