Last season, Purdue had an anemic offense that paved their way to a disappointing 16-18 season. The Boilermakers averaged just 63.8 points a game in Big Ten play and shot the third-worst field goal percentage at just 45.8 percent. They also made the fewest 3-pointers and had just one effective scorer, Terone Johnson, and even he [...]
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Addition by subtraction. That’s the mindset of Purdue coach Matt Painter these days. In the last week, Painter has seen his 2013-14 roster drastically change as three players – Sandi Marcius, Jacob Lawson and Anthony Johnson – have been granted their releases to transfer. Of the three, Marcius is the only one Painter wanted back. [...]
Sandi Marcius came on late in the season for Matt Painter’s Purdue Boilermakers and became a viable option in the post down the stretch. Despite his late-season surge, Marcius has decided it would be in his best interest to transfer to another school with one year of eligibility remaining. Unlike most transfers, Marcius will not [...]
If you’re looking for the dark horse of dark horses emerging at this week’s Big Ten Tournament, look no further than the Purdue Boilermakers. Yes, that’s right the same Purdue team that lost to Indiana by 37 points on its home floor in late January. Yes, the same Purdue team that finished the regular season [...]
When the All-Big Ten teams are released Monday, you won’t see 7-foot Purdue freshman A.J. Hammons listed. Hammons hasn’t been good enough to deserve such acclaim. Not yet anyway. In a league dominated by future NBA players, Hammons has been lost among the Zellars, Oladipos, Thomas, Burkes and Hardaways this season. But just wait. Hammons’ [...]
A lot of college basketball teams are eagerly anticipating March 17, but not Purdue. You see that date is like Christmas to college basketball teams around the country because it’s Selection Sunday when the NCAA Tournament bracket is unveiled. Usually the Boilermakers look forward to it, too, but not this time around. That’s because Purdue [...]
It was a career night for Purdue Boilermakers guard Terone Johnson. He nearly single-handedly led his Boilers to a second straight upset victory in three days as they almost beat the seventh-ranked Michigan Wolverines. Johnson had a career-high 32 points tonight on 12 of 17 shooting from the field and three for five behind the [...]
When you let up just a little from an intensity standpoint or you fail to play your best basketball in the parity-filled world of college hoops, what you get is the following. Purdue 69, No. 17 Wisconsin 56. The Boilermakers haven’t had a typical year, but they aren’t the worst team in the world either. [...]
Hoosiers Still Team To Beat In Big Ten
Indiana is the No. 1 team in the country, and while that doesn't mean the Hoosiers are necessarily the best team in college basketball, you still have to give them edge. At least for now.
When the Hoosiers are on top of their game, they are as good as any team in the country. They are a team that has plenty of talent to win a national championship.
It's why I'm keeping them in the top spot in a conference filled with a ton of parity. To me, the loss to Illinois was a fluke, one of those strange nights where things just don't go your way. Indiana bounced back with a big win on the road over Ohio State and that sealed the deal to keep them on top.
Teams such as Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin are all very good and any of them could win the conference championship.
I think Minnesota is well out of that picture but could bust of out its funk and be a dangerous tournament team. Illinois is capable of being dangerous as well.
With the way things have been in the Big Ten this year, it's safe to say it has been one of the most competitive leagues in the country and it would not surprise me if the conference tournament champion is different than the regular season champion. As for the home stretch of this regular season, success all comes down to which teams play the best defense. The title, for now, is Indiana's to lose, but are not head and shoulders above everyone else. It's definitely going to be an interesting fight to the finish.
No. 12 - Penn State Nittany Lions
Is it next season yet? That is what the Penn State Nittany Lions are probably asking at this point.
Penn State (8-15, 0-11) can't catch a break in the Big Ten, but you would think at some point it will win at least one league game.
The Nittany Lions are just not that good offensively, shooting only 38.1 percent from the floor and averaging 60.3 points per game. At this point, the Nittany Lions have to focus on making little improvements and shifting their attention to being a better team next season.
No. 11 - Nebraska Cornhuskers
Nebraska ended its two-game losing streak with a win over Penn State, but the Cornhuskers haven't had much go their way this season.
Defensively, they haven't been bad, allowing only 61.9 points per game, but like a lot of struggling teams, they can't get on track offensively.
Nebraska (12-12, 3-8) averages 59 points per game and shoots just 41.2 percent from the floor. Ray Gallegos, Brandon Ubel and Dylan Talley are good players, but they just don't have enough in them to take this team to another level. Nebraska just has to focus on finishing strong and hope next year is better.
No. 10 - Northwestern Wildcats
Northwestern has lost three of four and it's going to have to get its act together in a hurry if it's going to be in a position to make a little noise in the conference tournament.
The Wildcats (13-11, 4-7) have struggled offensively at times, although Reggie Hearn is having a good year, pumping in 14.2 points per outing, and it's negated what they have done on the defensive end of the floor. Northwestern probably isn't going to the NCAA tournament this year unless it can pull off a miracle and win the conference tournament, or at least finish second.
No. 9 - Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa continues to be a competitive basketball team, taking Wisconsin to two overtimes and nearly pulling off a win on the road against Minnesota.
The Hawkeyes (15-9,4-7) are one of those teams that could be dangerous come tournament time, but if they are going to surprise a team or two, they need to find a way to win the close games.
Roy Devyn Marble and Aaron White need to continue to play at high level. Both players are averaging in doble figures. Like I said before, it comes down to making plays for the Hawkeyes at this point.
No. 8 Minnesota Golden Gophers
Minnesota continues to be the most disappointing team in the conference. Expectations were high for the Golden Gophers (17-7, 5-6) and I'm starting to wonder if they are even worthy of an NCAA tournament bid this year.
Minnesota has lost six of eight and has struggled to find consistency on offense despite averaging just over 70 points per game.
The Golden Gophers are one of the better defensive teams in the league and they have the talent to get going again offensively. It's a matter of executing on both ends of the floor and bringing the mental toughness and drive that is necessary to be a good team.
No. 7 - Purdue Boilermakers
Purdue has been an up-and-down team. The Boilermakers (12-12, 5-6) have shown at times that they can be a tough team to deal with, but at other times, they have struggled in games they probably should have won, including against Northwestern earlier this month.
Purdue is holding teams to 39.6 percent shooting from the floor and it's going to have to really dig deep on the defensive end of the floor to be successful going forward. If the Boilermakers shine on defense and get solid play out of Terone Johnson, they will be a tough out for anyone in the Big Ten tourney.
No. 6 - Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois is a team that has been tough to figure out. The Fighting Illini are hot early in the year, hit a slump when conference play begins, and now get back on track with wins over Indiana and Minnesota.
Both wins were good for a team that needed a shot of confidence, but I'm still in wait-and-see mode for the Fighting Illini (17-8, 4-7).
If Illinois can play great defense and get big games out of Brandon Paul, it could make a push for an NCAA tournament bid. As I've said before, Illinois will go as far as Paul takes it. I do like the direction the program is headed in, though, regardless of what happens this season.
No. 5 - Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State has lost two in a row, but I don't think it's a big cause for concern for the Buckeyes.Ohio State (17-6, 7-4) will have a tough time winning the conference title because it will need help at this point, but the Buckeyes are certainly good enough to win the conference tournament and be a tough out for anyone in the NCAA tournament.
As long as Deshaun Thomas is lighting up scoreboards and Aaron Craft is playing defense at the level he is capable of playing it at, the Buckeyes can't be overlooked in this league.
No. 4 - Michigan Wolverines
Without question, the Michigan Wolverines are one of the top teams in the country. Their talent is impressive and they have won several big games.
But Michigan (21-4, 8-4) is showing that perhaps it doesn't have the poise and maturity to win in difficult venues. It was flat out hammered against Michigan State Tuesday night and it struggled to get going offensively against Wisconsin.
Michigan has shown it has issues with good defensive teams, and unless it can get that straightened out, it could be setting the stage for an early exit from the NCAA tournament. Trey Burke, who is pouring in 18.2 points per outing, has to be the guy that gets things back on track for the Wolverines.
No. 3 - Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin has shown that good defense still makes a difference in big games. The Badgers played tremendous defensive against an explosive Michigan team last week and while they might not win the conference crown, they are another team you can't sleep on.
The Badgers (17-7, 8-3) have also shown they can play poised in tough situations. Their last two games have gone into overtime and they prevailed in both instances.
Wisconsin doesn't have the most dangerous offense, averaging only 67.4 points per outing, but it does have one of the best coaches and a defense that is as good as any in the country.
No. 2 - Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State came up with a huge win over Michigan Tuesday night and there is no question that the Spartans are the real deal.
The Spartans (21-4, 10-2) are a blue-collar team that plays with a relentless effort on defense and makes it tough for teams to get into the paint and score because of their solid play in the post.
Michigan State has won its last four games and seems to be hitting its stride at the right time.
The Spartans are averaging 69.9 points per outing and holding opponents to 58.9.
Keith Appling has stepped up big for the Spartans, clicking for 14 points per outing, and Gary Harris is averaging 12 points per game.
If the Spartans can keep rolling like they have lately on the defensive end of the floor, they are certainly capable of being crowned Big Ten champions when the regular season is finished.
No. 1 - Indiana Hoosiers
Indiana is one of the best teams in the country when everything is clicking, and at least for now, they are my top team in the Big Ten.
One of the keys to success for the Hoosiers (21-3, 9-2) has been the play of Victor Oladipo. Yes, Cody Zeller gets most of the attention with this team, but if Oladipo keeps up his current pace, the Hoosiers are going to be tough to put away come tournament time.
Oladipo is averaging 14.3 points per outing and has knocked down 21 3-pointers. He is also grabbing 5.8 rebounds per game.
It will be interesting to see how Indiana plays down the stretch, but until proven otherwise, the Hoosiers are the best team in the conference./p>
Hoosiers Back On Top
Indiana won its showdown against Michigan on Saturday night and this week it is back on top in the Big Ten power rankings.
The Hoosiers executed on both ends of the floor against the Wolverines and there is no question that they are deserving of being dubbed the best team in the conference this week.
But it doesn't mean the Hoosiers are unbeatable the rest of the way. They still have to play at Michigan at the end of the year and the outright title could be on the line. Michigan and Ohio State are both very good basketball teams and either one is capable of winning a championship. Minnesota has an outside chance at the title but it's unlikely that the Golden Gophers find a way to win it.
The conference continues to be as competitive as ever, but I do think there is more of a divide as we go further into the year. As of right now, you can say there are about six, maybe seven, teams worthy of of NCAA tournament consideration. The rest of the teams in the league, including the once-hot Fighting Illini, are just fighting for respectability, unless of course one of those teams in the bottom half of the league can make a run in the conference tournament.
A lot is still up in the air with the conference, and a lot is still on the line. It is going to be interesting to see how things pan out the rest of the way. What won't surprise is if the regular season champion doesn't win the conference tournament title.
Enjoy this week's look at the rankings and don't hesitate to follow me on Twitter @BLester1993 or send me an email at email@example.com. Keep in mind that these rankings are through games played as of Tuesday night.
No. 12 - Penn State Nittany Lions
At some point Penn State has to win a conference game. At least one would think so.
The Nittany Lions (8-18, 0-10) have struggled mightily in Big Ten play and that doesn't surprise me at all. Give them credit for being more competitive as of late, losing their last two games by less than 10, but with an offense averaging around 60 points per outing, it's going to be tough to win more than a couple of league games this year.
No. 11 - Nebraska Cornhuskers
Is it football season yet in Nebraska?
The Cornhuskers (11-12, 2-8) have dropped two consecutive games, including a 63-56 loss to Ohio State. They have shown some life from a competitive standpoint, but just don't have enough offensive firepower to compete with the best in the Big Ten.
Nebraska is averaging less than 60 points per game and that just won't cut it in the toughest conference in the country. Defensively, the Cornhuskers aren't bad and perhaps they have a shot to lean on that defense to produce a strong finish to the year.
No. 10 - Illinois Fighting Illini
Maybe Illinois will find a way to get back on track, but at this time, it's not looking good for the Fighting Illini (15-8, 2-7).
Illinois has lost six of its last seven and has really struggled to be consistent offensively during the stretch. The Fighting Illini are averaging 72.1 points per outing, which isn't bad, but they are shooting just over 42 percent from the floor.
Illinois is going to need to find some offensive consistency if it's going to make a last-gasp push for the NCAA tourney. It's also going to need Brandon Paul to continue to be a go-to scorer. Paul is averaging 17.4 points per outing.
No. 9 - Northwestern Wildcats
Northwestern did manage to get an impressive win over Purdue this past weekend behind 26 points from Reggie Hearn, and perhaps that is a sign of things to come.
The Wildcats (13-10, 4-6) need all of the wins that they can get at this point if they are going to make a push for the NCAA tournament. One of the keys is going to getting more big nights from Hearn. He is averaging 14.2 points per game and he needs to be on top of his game from here on out for the Wildcats to be more productive on the offensive end of the floor. Northwestern is currently averaging just 63.9 points per outing. That average needs to come up for the Wildcats to be successful.
No. 8 - Iowa Hawkeyes
The Iowa Hawkeyes aren't bad, and of all the teams near the bottom of the conference, I think Iowa has the best shot at making some noise as the surprise team of the conference tournament next month.
Iowa (14-8, 3-6) has lost three games by nine points or less in the last couple of weeks, and if the Hawkeyes make the big plays in crunch time in those games, we are talking about a much different team at this point.
The Hawkeyes bring a great effort every time they take the floor and if they can turn that effort into wins in the close games down the stretch, they have a chance to finish strong.
No. 7 - Purdue Boilermakers
Purdue has been up and down lately, including losing at Northwestern, and the Boilermakers need to get back on track in a hurry.
The Boilermakers (12-11, 5-5) still have a chance to finish in the upper half of the league standings, but to do that, they need to score more points. They haven't scored more than 60 in their last three games, which means Terone Johnson and A.J. Hammons need some more support from other players on the team.
If Purdue can get that additional scoring, it will be in good shape down the stretch.
No. 6 - Minnesota Golden Gophers
Of all of the potential contenders in the Big Ten, Minnesota has been the team that hasn't quite lived up to expectations in conference play.
The Golden Gophers (17-5, 5-4) are still dangerous, though, and they have won two straight after four consecutive losses.
With five players averaging nine or more points per game, including Andre Hollins at 14.2 per outing, Minnesota has the balance on offense to make a push for a conference tourney title and have success in the NCAA tournament. But they need to show that they have what it takes to win big games against top-notch opponents. That really hasn't happened too often in conference play.
No. 5 - Wisconsin Badgers
The Wisconsin Badgers might not win the conference title, but because they are so good on the defensive end of the floor, they are going to be a tough out for any opponent.
Wisconsin (15-7, 6-3) has only won twice in its last five games, but it has only given up 70 or more once during that stretch.
The Badgers are allowing only 55.6 points per game. The key is to continue to play well defensively and find a way to get a little more secondary scoring to help support the efforts of Jared Berggren, Ben Brust and Ryan Evans. All three are averaging 10 or more per game.
No. 4 - Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State has won seven of its last eight, and it came real close to winning all eight. The Spartans' only loss in the stretch was a 75-70 setback to Indiana on the road.
The Spartans (18-4, 7-2) are one of the best defensive teams in the conference, holding opponents to under 60 per game, and they have a lot of scoring options.
Keith Appling leads the team at 14 points per outing, but he doesn't have to carry the load every single night. If the Spartans can continue to get balanced scoring and give a blue-collar effort on defense, they are certainly good enough to win a conference title, be it in the regular season or Big Ten tournament.
No. 3 - Ohio State Buckeyes
Say what you will about the Ohio State Buckeyes, but there is no question that they are a legit contender for the conference crown.
They nearly went into Ann Arbor Tuesday night and knocked off rival Michigan, and to me, that effort against the Wolverines says a lot about Ohio State (17-5, 7-3).
Sure, Deshaun Thomas once again led the Buckeyes in scoring, pouring in 17, and he is the leading scorer at nearly 20 points per game (19.9). But the Buckeyes have others capable of stepping up and they have a defense anchored by one of the best defenders in the nation in Aaron Craft.
The Buckeyes will be tested later this week against Indiana, and even if they lose, they can't be counted out for the regular season or tournament championship.
No. 2 - Michigan Wolverines
Michigan is No. 2 in my poll this week, but the Wolverines are no doubt good enough to be the best team in the conference.
The Wolverines (21-2, 8-2) nailed down a much-needed win against Ohio State after falling to Indiana and they have one of the most balanced teams in the country.
As long as players such as Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas continue to perform at a high level, it's going to be tough to slow down the Wolverines..
Michigan is not only solid offensively, but it plays hard on the defensive end of the floor and I will be surprised if the Wolverines don't win either the regular season or conference tournament title.
No. 1 - Indiana Hoosiers
Well, Indiana started the year at No. 1 and the Hoosiers are back at No. 1 after knocking off Michigan over the weekend.
The big key for the Hoosiers (20-2, 8-1) is the fact that they do have so many options on offense, headlined by the play of Cody Zeller.
Zeller is clicking for 16.3 points per outing but give a lot of credit to Victor Oladipo, who has quickly become an important part of the success of the Hoosiers. Oladipo is averaging 14.0 points and 5.8 rebounds per game and if he continues to thrive, the Hoosiers will be tough to beat.
Indiana is allowing 61 points per game and it's ability to defend will put it in a position to not only make a run at the conference title, but at the national title as well.
One thing worth noting about the Hoosiers is that they are shooting over 50 percent from the floor and holding opponents to under 40 percent shooting.