By Austin Miller
That was certainly a better week from the B1G. After a string of losses to such basketball powers as Louisiana Tech, Duquesne, UT-Arlington, and Radford, the Big Ten rallied this week to knock off the rival ACC in the annual Big Ten-ACC Challenge by a score of 8-6. A quick tangent: Growing up in North Carolina as a massive Northwestern fan, (you can now understand why my childhood was haunted by dreams of Ed DeChellis’ 2-3 Zone, and Jared Sullinger shooting free throws) the B1G-ACC Challenge meant a lot to me. Being a Big Ten basketball fan right in the heart of ACC country was tough, but it’s now been seven years since the last B1G loss in the event, and even though it’s a made-for-TV event that really shouldn’t mean that much, I’m proud of the Big Ten. It’s the only 3 night span I can root for Ohio State and Wisconsin, and this year they made it worth it.
One to be Proud Of: Wisconsin 66, Syracuse 58
Syracuse is a good team this year, and came into Wednesday night’s game ranked 14th in the country. After struggling to start the season, the Badgers played by far their best game of the young campaign. This win is particularly impressive given the loss Wisconsin suffered over the weekend, getting blown out by Oklahoma. If the Badgers do get themselves into the Selection Sunday conversation, this road win against Syracuse could be a big reason why.
One to be Ashamed Of: Duke 94, Indiana 74
I might be a little too harsh on the Hoosiers for this one. No one expected them to come into Cameron Indoor and win, but the fact that they got blown out, isn’t great for their already struggling season. Tom Crean made some baffling coaching decisions (who plays a 2-3 against Duke?) and Indiana just really struggled in this game. This is now an Indiana team that’s 5-3 with their only remotely good win against Creighton. Indiana has just one marquee game left on the non-conference schedule, against Notre Dame in Indianapolis. If Indiana leaves the non-con with no good wins, it could be an uphill battle in the weakened Big Ten.
B1G Power Rankings, One-ish Sentence Style:
1. Michigan State: There was a moment where Louisville was hanging with the Spartans and it looked like Sparty might take a loss. That moment passed and Michigan State remains number 1.
2. Purdue: The Boilermakers are one of two remaining unbeatens, and they absolutely demolished Pitt.
3. Maryland: Losing on the road to North Carolina is no shame, but the loss does bump the Terps down one spot.
4. Michigan: Outside of Wisconsin, Michigan is the team that gained most from the challenge, picking up a quality road win at N.C. State
5. Northwestern: Don’t look meow but the ‘Cats are one of just 4 teams with one or fewer losses.
6. Iowa: The Hawkeyes picked up a pair of losses in Orlando, but rebounded by blowing out Wichita State, and clinching the challenge against Florida State in OT.
7. Wisconsin: The Badgers got blown out by Oklahoma (not good) but then won tough at Syracuse (p good). That’s enough to put them squarely in the middle this week.
8. Nebraska: The Huskers lost twice this week, to Cincinnati and Miami-FL, but also picked up a Power 5 win against Tennessee.
9. Minnesota: The Gophers got a good win against Clemson, and Joey King can hit that double step-back crossover fade away 3 so hard you’ll cry.
10. Indiana: No movement for the Hoosiers, who blew out Alcorn State and got blown out by Duke.
11. Penn State: In the last week, Penn State suffered no bad losses, and also beat a bad Boston College team. Movin on up.
12. Illinois: The Illini looked like a competent basketball team this week, beating UAB and hanging with both Iowa State and Notre Dame.
13. Ohio State: The Buckeyes have two wins this season, against Mount St. Mary’s and Grambling State. Yes not all of their losses have been bad, but their wins are also terrible.
14. Rutgers: Rutgers lost to Wake Forest at the RAC. On the bright side, their players can look at the 30 Rock Christmas tree from their classroom windows, so it’s not all bad in New York’s Sixth Borough.