Tim Frazier, networkin' like a conference.
Gang Starr - Work (via dbuzz)
The Big Ten basketball season is one week old, so let's take a look at some of the surprises in the early going.
- After one week, the MVP of the Big Ten is....Tim Frazier of Penn State. Raise your hand if you saw that one coming. Through three games, Frazier is puttin' in work, averaging 20.7 points, 8.7 assists, and 3.3 steals per game and leading the Nittany Lions to a 3-0 start almost by himself. Granted, those three wins have come against Hartford, Radford and Long Island, but many thought Penn State would struggle even against teams like that.
- In fact, all the teams picked at the bottom of the Big Ten have done well so far. Iowa has run roughshod over three tomato cans, Nebraska got a nice road win at USC, and Indiana snapped a 21 game losing streak away Assembly Hall with a road blowout of Evansville. The Purple Aces had just beaten Butler at home, so that's a nice win for Indiana. Cody Zeller has been solid inside so far for the Hoosiers, but their breakout star has been sophomore Victor Oladipo. And Minnesota's been far from dominant, but they are 3-0 with all their wins coming against decent mid-majors. Trevor Mbakwe had quite the stat line last night in a win over Fairfield: 2 for 7 from the field, but 16 of 18 from the free throw line. Mbakwe learning how to shoot free throws is terrible news for the rest of the conference, as he'll probably get the line more than anyone in the Big Ten not named Jared Sullinger.
- Michigan State is the only Big Ten team to lose so far, but every other Big Ten team except Ohio State would likely be 0-2 against a schedule of North Carolina and Duke, and the Spartans were competitive in both games. Too early to get a read on them.
- Michigan and Illinois are both unbeaten, but both have struggled offensively, scoring at around a point per possession against the dregs of Division 1. Illinois was somehow held under a point per possession in a 20 point win over the tire fire that is SIU-Edwardsville, and Michigan was taken to the wire last night by another one of the worst teams in Division 1, escaping with a 4 point home win over Western Illinois. Next up for MIchigan is the Maui Invitational against a loaded field; they will need to get it together in a hurry if they want to hang with the likes of Memphis, Duke and Georgetown.
- Purdue is also still undefeated, but they've had two narrow escapes, fading a three at the buzzer to beat High Point (who sucks) by 2 at home, and sneaking past Iona (who is actually very good) by 1 yesterday in Puerto Rico. The good news for Purdue is that Robbie Hummel appears to be back at 100%, as he's averaging over 20 points per game and hit the game-winner with 20 seconds left vs. Iona. Plus, Ryne Smith has been en fuego, hitting 15 of 25 threes so far. The bad news is that Matt Painter's normally stout defense has struggled so far, and the center platoon of Travis Carroll and Sandi Marcius has made Luka Mirkovic and Davide Curletti look good by comparison. Freshman Jacob Lawson, who is a bit undersized for a Big Ten center, may be forced into action.
- And finally, to the surprise of no one, Ohio State and Wisconsin have looked great so far, Ohio State has the Big Ten's best non-conference win so far, at home over #7 Florida, and Wisconsin has clowned two weak mid-majors. Guard Ben Brust, a kid from Illinois who twice came close to committing to Northwestern, is their leading scorer through two games. Joy.