Saturday, March 14, 2009

Big Ten Tournament thoughts

Going into Friday I thought we'd see four good games between evenly-matched teams. Instead we saw one good, close game (UW-Ohio State), one favorite winning convincingly (Michigan State over Minnesota) and two teams playing really well and winning by a lot (Illinois and Purdue).

Overall, the feeling I came away with was this: the Big Ten is a lot better than it has been in any of the five years we've been coming to this event. In years past, we've seen teams in the semifinals that have no business being there and getting beaten down handily. I don't think we're going to see that this year, because of the parity in the conference. I've shared my thoughts on Bucky, here are some on the others.

Michigan State
Looked appropriately good. Don't listen to what the MSU commenters come on and tell you -- this is the deepest, most talented team in the league (why do they dispute that as if it's an insult?), and they used that depth Friday. No one played an outstanding game against Minnesota, and they missed a bunch of free throws, but enough guys made enough plays that the outcome was never really in doubt.

Minnesota
Said it before and will say it again: Tubby shouldn't play so many guys. Some of their players -- Abu-Shamala, Busch, and Hoffarber (who took no shots in 17 minutes) come to mind -- shouldn't play at all, unless they're pressin for 40 minutes. Westbrook still drives me nuts. Sampson played really soft and borderline scared against Suton and State's other bigs. Damian Johnson is a stud, he'll be great next year. That Carter guy has impressive flashes. They need Nolen to learn how to score more. I can not believe we lost two games to these chumps.

Ohio State
Jeremie Simmons killed us quietly with 10 points in 16 minutes. Turner showed a really nice mid-range game. Andy kept talking about P.J. Hill's hair. It flies around so much it creates the illusion that he's doing more than he really is. Mullens sure didn't show much before he fouled out.

Illinois
Mike Davis was awesome Friday, there is no other player in the Big Ten like him in size or athleticism. Tisdale didn't score much but has nice range. They played great defense on Michigan, and exposed their lack of size. Chester Frazier's absence is going to hurt them against a team with a penetrating point guard, maybe even today against Purdue. They should play him even if he has a club on his hand, he shouldn't shoot or dribble anyway.

Michigan
Aside from maybe Novak, they were all terrible Friday. They officially had 10 turnovers, but it seemed like twice that; every turnover they had seemed to lead to an emotionally-charged play for Illinois. It will be interesting to see if Harris or Sims think they're good enough to enter the NBA draft early. I sure don't think they are.

Penn State
They got run over by a freight train, and it might have hurt their NCAA chances. They didn't play that badly, but Purdue was just about flawless. Cornley airballed his first two 3-point attempts, but for some reason kept shooting.

Purdue
By far the best-looking team on Friday. It's funny -- at one point they showed Gene Keady on the JumboTron and the PU fans gave him a huge ovation. I giggled because it is sort of amazing how quickly Matt Painter has turned around that program after Keady let it slide into a horrendous state. Purdue is so much more talented than they were just three years ago, it's amazing. Hummel was unconscious early in the second half. Moore was great around the basket. Grant was hittin from outside. Kramer looked like freaking Doctor J on one of his open court dunks. Even that Calasan greaseball hit some shots. Hard to believe they lost as many games in the Big Ten as they did this year.

My favorite non-Badger Big Ten players: Chester Frazier, Mike Davis, E'Twuan Moore, Zach Novak, Talor Battle, Damian Johnson

My least-favorite Big Ten players: Chris Kramer (I can see him holding court at Brothers with girls of ill repute gathered around him), Namanja Calasan (the guy is a black hole, whenever the ball gets in his hands it ends in a shot), Goran Suton (because he hates us because we grab and hold), Jamelle Cornley (airball your first two 3-poiners? Keep shooting!), Lawrence Westbrook (read past Badgercentric posts)

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