In this week’s edition of B1G Ten Ballin': The Hardwood Hustlers, Greg Mroz looks at the weaknesses facing the Big Ten’s top teams.
B1G Ten Ballin: The Hardwood Hustlers
Volume 2: Slightly Flawed
As strong as the Big Ten Conference is this year, one team is eventually going to have to make a statement proving that they are of elite status. Now, you could make an argument for a lot of teams, as to why they should be considered the best in the conference. However, many of these teams do have faults, and I want to share with you those faults today, so that you can better choose what you think is most important to have to be a champion, and decide from there whether you think your team is the best in the Big Ten.
Michigan’s Flaw: Post Play
To say that Michigan is reliant on outside shooting is a drastic understatement. The Wolverines are entirely dependent on the play of their guards in order to win, and when it comes down to crunch time, the ability to score and rebound inside is what is going to win you basketball games. Sadly for the Wolverines, they have neither of those, and their two main post players, Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary, are both averaging under 6 rebounds per game and under 7 points per game. If Michigan plays a team that significantly outsizes them, they might be in trouble.
Indiana’s Flaw: Games Away From Assembly Hall
Last year saw the beginning of the revival of Indiana hoops, but there was one thing that stuck out, and that was the inability of this team to dominate away from home. I mean my goodness they lost to Nebraska on the road last year. Now granted, Indiana has lost only two games so far this year, and while one of them was a neutral site game, it was still a game away from Bloomington. At Iowa in their Big Ten opener, they only won by 4, and against Northwestern on Sunday, they were outplayed for the entire second half. The Hoosiers still have six road games left, with four of those games being against ranked teams.
Ohio State’s Flaw: Lack of a Backup Plan
Deshaun Thomas isn’t just the star of the Ohio State basketball team, he is the Ohio State basketball team. Thomas leads the team in points per game at a 20.7 clip and in rebounds per game at 6.7. Outside of him, nobody is averaging more than 10 points per game. When Thomas is on, then the Buckeyes are playing good ball, but when he isn’t, the Buckeyes struggle. Aaron Craft is a great point guard and runs the offense well, but if he doesn’t have scorers around him, then it will be difficult for him to distribute the ball.
Michigan State’s Flaw: Replacing Draymond Green
Draymond Green left some big shoes to fill, and so far the Spartans are stepping up in every category except for one, leadership. This team has no distinct leader, and because of that, they have had three games this year where they have completely let down their guard, most notably a 13 point loss to Minnesota. The Spartans have a big test on Sunday, as they travel to Bloomington to take on 7th ranked Indiana. There is where we will find out whether Michigan State has that leader that can take the Spartans to the next level. If they can find that leader, Tom Izzo’s squad will be in it for the long haul.
Lots of other teams have flaws as well. Wisconsin has no inside game, Illinois never plays consistently, Purdue has no offense, and Minnesota doesn’t play well down the stretch in tight ball games. This conference is so strong that teams will be able to succeed despite their flaws, but if a flaw is exploited, the other team’s coach will gameplan to shut the rest of that team’s functionality down.