As conference play gets closer and closer the drama is starting to grow. Top teams went down, others are gaining momentum and then some Big Ten teams are just bad. For many teams, we are starting to find out the truth about how good they really are. For others, it is still up in the air. So, let’s take a look at who had a good week and who had a bad week.
The Wolverines beat West Virginia last night, moving to 11-0. This win was made even bigger after Indiana had been upset earlier in the day. Michigan will most likely become the no. 2 team in the next polls, and has a ton of momentum heading in to conference play. They play Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan in the next two weeks, before they start the New Year with some conference basketball. Their best players are playing exceptionally well, and they are looking good doing it.
The Hawkeyes have proved their instate supremacy over their last two games. On December 8th they knocked off a very solid Iowa State team 80-71. The, yesterday afternoon they beat Northern Iowa 80-73. Northern Iowa is just 6-4, but they have losses to Louisville and Memphis by just 5 points each. Roy Devyn Marble has been terrific all year and scored 30 points in the win over Northern Iowa. Iowa has beaten a couple of quality teams, and they look pretty solid heading in to conference play.
This one is an obvious choice. Indiana lost to Butler in overtime yesterday, ending their undefeated start and their time at no. 1 in the country. It was a disappointing loss, but it was not like Indiana played poorly. They did not play well, but it was more a case of Butler playing exceptionally well. Butler had a plus 6 rebounding edge and was plus 5 on the offensive boards. Even more impressive was that they shot 46% from three point range, making 11 of them. I still think Indiana should be a big favorite to win the Big Ten. I really like Michigan, Illinois and Ohio State, but if I had to put money on one team, it would be the Hoosiers.
The Wildcats have not seen the floor since last Saturday, but any shot at a successful season was crushed yesterday. It was announced that senior guard Drew Crawford will miss the rest of the season with shoulder surgery. Crawford talked about how he had “searing pain” in the shoulder while playing. The school expects the 3rd Team All Big Ten player to get a fifth year of eligibility. The loss will be huge for Northwestern, as they have already lost three of their last four games. Crawford has had reduced production this year, scoring just 13.5 points a game, compared to over 16 a game last season. None the less, Crawford was hugely valuable and will certainly be missed.
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