Another week, another set of “we didn’t see that coming” results. Welcome to the Big Ten basketball season apparently.
While a few teams appear to be separating themselves at the very top of the conference, 10 teams are within two losses of the top spot in the B1G. That’s how insane the Big Ten has been already.
So, here we are with our second weekly roundup, trying to make sense of the chaos. Enjoy the week that was in Big Ten basketball.
Team of the Week: Northwestern Wildcats
You don’t need to refresh the page…this is not a drill. Northwestern had the best week of any team in the Big Ten this past week. It’s part expectations, part potential amazing story and a whole lot of things that NU needed to do to become an NCAA tournament team.
Northwestern survived a scare in Piscataway, New Jersey, narrowly beating Rutgers 69-60 on the road. Teams that make the NCAA tournament find ways to grind out these types of games. NU
While that wasn’t a great night, Northwestern put the bad moments behind them in a return to Welsh-Ryan arena and proceeded to dismantle Iowa in an 89-54 result. Sure, Iowa isn’t great this season, but that was the biggest ass-kicking in the Big Ten so far this year.
In fact, dare I say it was the most complete performance I have ever seen from Northwestern at any point in the 30-plus years I have been paying attention to Big Ten basketball. NU shot nearly 60 percent from the field, held Iowa to just 35.3 percent shooting and had four of five starters reach double figures (two of which went off for 20-plus points).
Northwestern taking care of business against teams it should be hasn’t been a consistent thing in a long time. If the Wildcats keep winning games they should and find a way to get a bigger win down the road this could well be an NCAA tournament team.
Other Big Ten coaches should also be calling Chris Collins, because the Wildcats have figured out the road win thing…starting off the B1G campaign 3-1 in road contests.
Player of the Week: Scottie Lindsey, G Northwestern
For the second straight week, the team and the player of the week are the same on our end. This was an easy one, as few players in the conference were as clutch as Lindsey was nor were they as vital on both ends of the court as Lindsey was either.
He finished the week averaging 18 points, grabbing seven rebounds against Rutgers and eight against Iowa. Lindsey also shot 48.2 percent from the field this past week. Not too shabby from the junior guard that most people outside of the Northwestern basketball community could’ve picked out of a lineup heading in to the season.
Lindsey’s game against Iowa should’ve been good enough alone — finishing with 22 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and 53.3 percent from the field. Incredible stuff for an incredible game as a team.
We Didn’t See That Coming: Ohio State’s win over Michigan State
Seriously, who saw Michigan State going in to Columbus and dropping that game? Even the most diehard of Ohio State fans likely didn’t see that coming. After all, the Buckeyes just got done get blasted by Wisconsin earlier in the week and Michigan State appeared to be rounding in to form.
Instead, Ohio State played some physical basketball and matched Michigan State’s intensity level from the opening tip-off on. Ohio State even managed to handle a few runs made by Michigan State including a 5-0 run to start the game that had an eerie feeling of deja vu for OSU after Thursday’s game at Wisconsin.
But, the Buckeyes battled hard in this one and came out the other end with a huge win. Will this be a catalyst towards a crazy run in conference play? That remains to be seen, but it was very important for Thad Matta to have his team not let that Wisconsin butt-kicking snowball on them.
Biggest Disappointment: Nebrasketball
What a cute hashtag #Nebrasketball makes. However, it needs to be backed up by quality basketball, and it appears a lot of the early season production was smoke and mirrors for Tim Miles’ crew.
Staring the Big Ten season at 3-0 and becoming the final team to stand undefeated in conference play seems like ages ago now. That’s what happens when you go from undefeated to a two-game losing streak.
It’s not so much that Nebraska has dropped a pair of games, it is that the Huskers have done it at home and on the road and begun to lose the close games they were winning earlier in the Big Ten season.
Nebraska’s three-game winning streak to open conference play came by a combined nine points. Teams like that usually are the ones that not only have luck, but the grit to grind out any and all close games throughout the season.
That has been quickly reversed as soon as the undefeated B1G bubble burst in Lincoln against Northwestern. But, perhaps the most disappointing result came in the lone game the Huskers had this week — giving up over 90 points to Michigan in Crisler Arena.
It was a brutal defensive performance for a team that has a reputation as one of the toughest defensive teams in the Big Ten. Miles has built his program on that defensive reputation.
Hopefully for the Huskers’ sake, that performance over the weekend was a blip on the radar. If it is a symptom of a larger problem afoot, Miles may be in some serious trouble in Lincoln.