2011-2012 Season

Big Ten Roundup: February 20th, 2012

Big Ten Efficiency Margins: February 20th, 2012

Team W L Temp PPP Opp. PPP Eff. Margin
Ohio State 10 4 65.5 1.09 0.90 0.19
Michigan State 11 3 62.8 1.10 0.92 0.18
Michigan 10 4 59.0 1.05 0.99 0.06
Wisconsin 9 5 57.6 1.02 0.98 0.04
Indiana 8 7 65.6 1.10 1.09 0.01
Minnesota 5 9 63.2 1.01 1.04 -0.03
Purdue 7 7 64.1 1.07 1.10 -0.03
Northwestern 6 8 61.6 1.08 1.12 -0.04
Illinois 5 9 63.1 0.97 1.04 -0.07
Iowa 6 8 66.4 1.05 1.11 -0.06
Penn State 4 11 62.6 0.96 1.08 -0.12
Nebraska 4 10 62.2 0.93 1.07 -0.14
Average 62.8 1.04

There’s not much debate that Michigan State is playing the best basketball in the Big Ten right now. The Spartans have emerged at the top of the conference standings and are in the midst of a four game winning streak that includes wins over Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin. During that four game winning streak Michigan State is outscoring opponents by an emphatic .22 points per trip.

Despite Michigan State’s emergence, the conference race is far from over. Michigan’s final four games come against the No.7, No. 8, No. 9 and No. 11 teams in the efficiency margin table and the Wolverines are still No. 1 in KenPom’s conference strength of schedule statistic, meaning the Wolverine schedule should ease slightly. It won’t be easy but the Wolverines have a real chance to make this race interesting down the stretch. Michigan State looks likely to survive this week (at Minnesota, vs. Nebraska) but finishing the season with a trip to Bloomington and a home game against Ohio State will be difficult. Speaking of Ohio State, despite their struggles the Buckeyes still control their own destiny and will earn a share of the Big Ten if they are able to win out. – Dylan Burkhardt

Biggest surprise: Iowa 78, Indiana 66

It’s never a huge surprise when anyone in the Big Ten loses on the road, but few could have predicted that 20th-ranked Indiana would get blown out in Iowa City. Iowa led by 11 at the break and by as many as 19 in the second half, and the Hoosiers never even cut the lead to single digits in the final 20 minutes. Indiana came into the contest riding a three-game win streak and seemed to be hitting its stride heading into the final few games of conference play, perhaps ready to make a run at a first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament, but the pesky Hawkeyes proved to be too big of a roadblock for the Hoosiers to overcome. – Kevin Raftery

Stat line: 1-for-23 — Purdue’s start to the 2nd half against Michigan State

After heading into halftime with a 38-35 lead over the Spartans thanks to a huge performance from Robbie Hummel, there was hope that the Boilermakers may be able to pull off the home upset. A Purdue win would have gone a long way toward cementing an NCAA tournament bid and would push the Spartans down the standings into a tie with both Michigan and Ohio State. That hope didn’t last long. Michigan State came out of the break on a 10-0 run and Purdue was simply awful on the offensive end. The Boilermakers made just one out of their first 23 shots to start the half, good for just 4.3 percent from the field. 4.3 percent. At that rate they would have been better off just chucking up half court shots and hoping for the best. The Spartans led by as many as 16 and cruised to the 76-62 road victory. – Kevin Raftery

Game of the week: Michigan 56, Ohio State 51

For a regular season game, this one had it all: conference championship implications, a heated rivalry, a week of buildup, ESPN College GameDay, a sellout crowd… The hype was real and both sides lived up to it on the court. Crisler Center was the loudest that its been in years and Michigan came away with the five-point victory. It was a statement win for the Wolverines, who are now tied for second place with Ohio State and just a game behind conference leaders Michigan State with two weeks to play. – Kevin Raftery

Disappointment of the week: Illinois trounced by Nebraska, 80-57

Bruce Weber has lost his team, and probably his job. We’ve pointed out that Illinois has been struggling of late but the loss at Nebraska was as bad as it gets. The Cornhuskers went on a 36-4 run to hand Illinois its eighth loss in nine games. It’s hard not to say that Bruce Weber has lost control of his team after calling out his best players in post game comments and questioning decisions he’s made over the last three years, emphasizing winning over toughness. – Kevin Raftery

Unsung hero: Iowa senior Matt Gatens

Throughout the past four years, Matt Gatens has quietly went about his business as a solid Big Ten guard. Iowa has never been special but Gatens has averaged double digits throughout his career. This year his 14.8 points per game this season is good for 11th in the Big Ten. In Sunday’s upset win over Indiana, Gatens poured in a career-high 30 points on 7-of-10 shooting from behind the arc. The rebuilding process at Iowa continues but Gatens’ big night should at least earn Iowa a slot in the NIT by season’s end. – Kevin Raftery

Upcoming game of the week: Wisconsin at Ohio State, 4:00 Saturday

After a loss in East Lansing last Thursday dropped Wisconsin to 8-5 in the conference (they’re now 9-5 with a win over Penn State Sunday), the Badgers are now in danger of falling out of the conference race. Michigan State now sits at 11-3 following a win at Purdue Sunday, with Michigan and Ohio State not far behind at 10-4 each. A Wisconsin win in this one will keep its hopes of a conference title alive, but a loss should most certainly drop them out of the race. For Ohio State, it’s another chance to stay within striking distance of the Spartans and possibly tie them at the top if the Spartans falter at all this week. – Kevin Raftery

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