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Big Ten Week in Review: Strengths, Weaknesses and Nebraska

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Conference play is coming shortly. Let's take a look at how the rest of the conference has been doing so far in non-conference matchups.

But why can't I shoot threes like the rest of the team?
But why can't I shoot threes like the rest of the team?
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, friends. My name is Drew and I used to write at Bucky’s 5th Quarter. Unfortunately, my real job got in the way of making fun of every team in the Big Ten on a weekly basis on this website and I had to mostly stop for the last two years. In my absence, this here blog has turned into a pretty reputable news-reporting source for all your Wisconsin Badgers athletics needs and I’m proud to say I had no part in that. It’s time to get back to some old-school blogging.

This will be a weekly series recapping the previous week’s Big Ten hoops action but I’ll leave most actual analysis to the "reporters" and "insiders." The only thing I’m gonna be inside of is yo *Mike and Jake have simultaneous strokes reaching for the edit button*.

Since this is the first time I’m doing this this year, there may be a bit of a season-long overview in my comments instead of just focusing on the previous week.

I’m excited to be regularly fired by Rosin again, so without further ado let’s look back at what the stupid cow colleges in this conference did on the hardwood last week.

Indiana

KenPom rank: 15th AdjEM; 12th AdjO; 30th AdjD

Previous week’s results: (W) vs. Houston Baptist 103-61

Biggest strength: The Hoosiers have beaten UNC (sixth in KenPom) and Kansas (fourth) already this year, giving them the two most impressive wins of any team in the country. Their other wins have been, let’s say, less impressive. Their next best win is Liberty (238th) and all of their wins have come at home (or a neutral court for the KU game). James Blackmon is a startlingly good offensive player and he forms an impressive triumvirate of potential all-conference performers with Thomas Bryant and Robert Johnson. They don’t have a single senior that contributes.

Biggest weakness: Everyone knows Tom Crean can’t win on the road and his 0-1 record this year in true road games (GO MASTODONS!) just reconfirms my well-researched and factual claim. I need IU to keep Crean around forever like I need beer to breathe. Is that the saying? I don’t care. Keep Crean forever and keep not making it past the Sweet 16, Indiana.

This week’s schedule: Saturday vs. (neutral) Butler; Monday vs. Delaware St.

Maryland

KenPom rank: 61st AdjEm; 75th AdjO; 61st AdjD

Previous week’s results: (W) vs. Howard 79-56; (W) vs. St. Peter’s 66-56; (W) Jacksonville St. 92-66

Biggest strength: The Terps are 11-1 and I’ve rarely been more underwhelmed by a team with that impressive of a record. They’ve beaten Kansas State and Oklahoma State so far, which means they are second in the Big 12 behind Kansas, but beyond that they haven’t really beaten anyone. I guess Georgetown counts as an alright win. Melo Trimble is still doing Melo Trimble things and leads the Big Ten in free-throw attempts this year.

Biggest weakness: Maryland is an easily hateable team. The state is full of a combination of rednecks and lacrosse bros, which is pretty much the worst combination of people any state could have, the Inner Harbor is trash and Chevy Chase is a dumb name for a person, let alone a city. Old Bay seasoning on things is cool, though. Despite all of this, most of the reasons you hate Maryland basketball have moved on. Diamond Stone is in the NBA and has as many fouls as shots made this season, Robert Carter plays in Serie A and not even for someone good like Juventus or Napoli (I don’t know if the soccer teams all have corresponding basketball teams, but let’s assume), Rasheed Sulaimon plays in the NBDL and Jake Layman somehow has scored 17 points, IN EIGHT MINUTES, against the defending 3-1 series-lead blower Golden State Warriors. What I’m trying to say is I don’t know any of the players on Maryland besides Trimble, but I’m sure they all suck.

This week’s schedule: Has the week off to study for finHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Michigan

KenPom rank: 32nd AdjEM; 23rd AdjO; 60th AdjD

Previous week's result: (W) vs. Texas 53-50; (L) at UCLA 102-84

Biggest strength: I’m pretty sure that Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton have been playing guard for Michigan since the Fab Five was there. The Wolverines are a team that I always assume is pretty good, but they’ve already lost to UCLA, South Carolina and Virginia Tech this year and my uncle who is a proud U-of-M grad says they’re not going to be any good. My uncle is a DC sports fan too, so he knows "not any good."

Biggest weakness: They huck wayyyyyy too many threes. They also beat Texas, which probably contributed to Charlie Strong losing his job. We’ll never Make America Great Again with all of these people losing their jobs thanks to the state of Michigan! They also allow opponents to make too many threes. Eh, this’ll most likely just even itself out by the end of the year for a 19-win Michigan team that barely makes the tournament.

This week’s schedule: Tuesday vs. Central Arkansas; Saturday vs. Maryland Eastern Shore (another reason Maryland sucks: made-up schools like this)

Michigan State

KenPom rank: 42nd AdjEM; 49th AdjO; 44th AdjD

Previous week’s results: (W) vs. Youngstown St. 77-57; (W) vs. Tennessee Tech 71-63

Biggest strength: Beat Wichita State and Dunk City-State (is that what we used to call FGCU that one year?). Miles Bridges looks like the real-deal Holyfield. Only has to play Wisconsin once in conference play.

Biggest weakness: Your typical Tom Izzo-Approved Brutal Non-Con Schedule has seen MSU already lose to Arizona, Kentucky, Baylor and Duke (none of which were at home). Miles Bridges’s ankle didn’t get the memo that he was supposed to win Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Gavin Schilling and graduate transfer Ben Carter are both unlikely to play this year after suffering injuries in the preseason.

This week’s schedule: Sunday vs. Northeastern

Ohio State

KenPom rank: 34th AdjEM; 57th AdjO; 24th AdjD

Previous week’s results: (L) vs. Florida Atlantic 79-77; (W) vs. UConn 64-60

Biggest strength: I love Jae’Sean Tate. I don’t completely know why, but I do. I want him to gain 50 pounds and become the next Charles Barkley. I see no, non-health related, reasons why this isn’t a brilliant idea. I don’t know who Trevor Thompson is but he is grabbing 32.5 percent of the defensive rebounds when he is on the floor, which is fifth-best in the dang nation. I hope all my children are 7’0 tall. Six points away from being undefeated this year.

Biggest weakness: Basketball teams whose corresponding football teams just hired Lane Kiffin as head coach. Also free throws. The Buckeyes are really bad at free throws.

This week’s schedule: Saturday vs. (neutral) UCLA

Penn State

KenPom rank: 124th AdjEM; 201st AdjO; 74th AdjD

Previous week’s results: (L) vs. George Mason 85-66; (L) neutral site Pitt 81-73

Biggest strength: Just an above-average defense. No seniors on their roster receive playing time. Three freshman in the starting lineup. The future looks bright. Lead the country in playing teams with "George" in their name. Ninth in the nation in free-throw percentage.

Biggest weakness: Just a dreadful offense. Lost to SUNY Albany (you’ll always be SUNY to me, University of Albany *hand wank*). Play in a mausoleum. Have a monkey (?) for a mascot. Beat Wisconsin in football.

This week’s schedule: Sunday at St. John’s

Rutgers

KenPom rank: 132nd AdjEM; 165th AdjO; 109th AdjD

Previous week’s results: (W) vs. Central Connecticut 79-37; (W) at Stony Brook 71-66

Biggest strength: I don’t want to freak anyone out, but Rutgers is 9-1. Rutgers won seven basketball games last year. If it can just double its conference win total from last year, it'll *does math* finish with double-digit wins! What a time to be alive.

Biggest weakness: None. Rutgers is a basketball juggernaut now and we just have to accept that. (Jk, its best win this year is DePaul. Let that sink in for a moment. The Scarlet Knights are the college basketball version of Washington football of non-conference scheduling.)

This week’s schedule: Wednesday vs. Fairleigh Dickinson; Sunday (vs.) Fordham

Illinois

KenPom rank: 67th AdjEM; 74th AdjO; 72nd AdjD

Previous week’s result: (W) vs. IUPUI 85-77; (W) vs. Central Michigan 92-73

Biggest strength: I’ll never be able to figure out the Illini. They can’t recruit in Chicago for a reason that has baffled scholars for millennia and they used to be so dang good and now they, decidedly, aren’t. They stomped VCU and NC State but lost to Winthrop. Malcolm Hill is pretty good, but he can’t do everything.

Biggest weakness: I guess the above section was kinda about weaknesses, huh? The Illini also turn the ball over too much. James Augustine is still the worst and I hope he stays in Russia forever.

This week’s schedule: Saturday vs. BYU

Iowa

KenPom rank: 79th AdjEM; 38th AdjO; 156th AdjD

Previous week’s results: (W) vs. Iowa State 78-64

Biggest strength: Somehow beat in-state rival Iowa State last week. Peter Jok is good. They have Jason Bohannon’s little brother, J-something Bohannon, who is just as unrepentant in his gunning as his older brother. Get to play Rutgers twice in conference. Wait, that might actually be a bad thing now.

Biggest weakness: They do not look like a good basketball team this year. Besides Iowa State they have beaten no one ranked higher than 286th in KenPom’s rankings. They also lost to Nebraska-Omaha in Iowa City... woof. Their team is extremely young and going through the prerequisite growing pains. Fran McCaffery might actually pop a blood vessel in his forehead this year.

This week’s schedule: Saturday vs. (neutral) Northern Iowa

Minnesota

KenPom rank: 47th AdjEM; 104th AdjO; 18th AdjD

Previous week’s results: (W) vs. NJIT 74-68; (W) vs. Georgia Southern 84-49; (W) vs. NIU 77-57

Biggest strength: I didn’t think there could possibly be any, but the Gophers have a legit shutdown defense this year. They’ve only lost one game and have beaten UT-Arlington, Vandy and Arkansas. If Nate Mason continues playing well and the rest of the offense becomes merely competent instead of "meh," the Gophers could make some noise in the Big Ten this year.

Biggest weakness: They don’t shoot the basketball into the basket particularly well. I’m told by my sources that this is a skill needed for at least half of the game. Remember when the Gophers recruited a guy named Gaston? Like the villain from Beauty and the Beast? I wish he’d get some run because there are probably some good memes just waiting to be made in reference to his name. Are memes still cool? I am #old #onhere.

This week’s schedule: Wednesday vs. LIU Brooklyn

Nebraska

KenPom rank: 83rd AdjEM; 176th AdjO; 39th AdjD

Previous week’s results: (L) vs. Creighton 77-62; (L) at Kansas 89-72

Biggest strength: I don’t know what to do with Nebraska. I do know the Huskers shouldn’t have scheduled Kansas. They did beat Dayton, though, and the Flyers should make the tournament this year. They also played Mary earlier this year. I don’t know why they were playing my aunt from Knowlton, Wis., but I wish they would have taken it easier on her.

Biggest weakness: Almost as dreadful on offense as Penn State is. Almost. Ugh, their stats are making me upset let’s move on to *dry heaves* Northwestern.

This week’s schedule: Sunday vs. Gardner Webb

Northwestern

KenPom rank: 40th AdjEM; 46th AdjO; 38th AdjD

Previous week’s results: (W) vs. New Orleans 83-49

Biggest strength: Man, Northwestern won 20 games last year and still couldn’t get into the NCAA tournament. That’s gotta be rough for Chicago’s Big Ten Team. I think this is the year the Wildcats break their streak, though. They beat Wake Forest and Texas, who are better than any of their non-con wins last year. Now they just need to beat Purdue or Indiana or Wisconsin for a "marquee win" and I think they’re in. Vic Law is back this year and Bryant McIntosh is a solid floor general.

Biggest weakness: Man, I don’t know. Northwestern probably doesn’t make the tournament this year because that is just what it does.

This week’s schedule: Wednesday vs. Chicago St.; Saturday vs. Dayton

Purdue

KenPom rank: 12th AdjEM; 13th AdjO; 16th AdjD

Previous week’s results: (W) vs. Cleveland St. 77-53

Biggest strength: Look, I get it. Purdue is "good." Everyone says the Boilermakers are good, so it has to be true, right? They’re 8-2 and boast wins over Arizona State and, uh, Auburn. Caleb Swanigan is great. Isaac Haas (so many "a’s" in his name, jees)  is tall. Dakota Mathias can shoot. Basil Smotherman has the best name in the conference. But... why haven’t they beaten a good team yet?

Biggest weakness: They haven’t beaten a good team yet. They really seem like they should be a good team, but they seem to lose to good teams soooooooooooooooooooo...

This week’s schedule: Saturday vs. (neutral) Notre Dame; Monday vs. Western Illinois

Wisconsin

KenPom rank: 8th AdjEM; 10th AdjO; 20th AdjD

Previous week’s results: (W) vs. Idaho St. 78-44; (W) at Somewhere, I don’t remember 93-84

Biggest strength: Ethan Happ is a bigger monster than Godzilla. Nigel Hayes is a better passer than John Stockton. D’Mitrik Trice is the best super sub since that four-foot hoagie I tried to eat last summer. Bronson Koenig never misses when the clock is winding down. Khalil Iverson is a better dunker than Shawn Kemp. The Badgers allow the fewest offensive rebounds in the country. THE WHOLE COUNTRY! Played a brutal non-conference schedule that will equip the nicely for the rigors of the Big Ten and then the tournament.

Biggest weakness: Vitto Brown’s defense. Happ’s propensity to foul anyone anywhere. Charlie (you’re Charlie until you fix this) Thomas having the fourth-highest percentage of possession used when on the floor on the team. Iverson and Happ shooting from anywhere but next to the basket. Tempo is SO SLOW. Literally only seven teams play slower than Wisconsin in the whole nation. One of them is Michigan, which will make that game must-see TV.

This week’s schedule: Wednesday vs. UWGB