[embed]https://open.spotify.com/episode/3d6atY3RLry5XzeoZMwECL?si=LeNmI12oQl6bvgavszH_WQ[/embed] After possibly the worst week of the season, Indiana goes back to the drawing board for one final, very important week of regular season Big Ten basketball. Austin, Connor and Jackson attempt to figure out what is wrong with this team after three straight losses and figure out a route to the NCAA Tournament. It's been a wild ride, but the guys are trying their best to bring it home.
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[embed]https://open.spotify.com/episode/5XNQHVh6FmAcA9t0wteACR?si=gyELilIoTrCROfO4lXkGAA[/embed] After another disappointing performance at Ohio State, the Hoosiers have to bounce back, and quickly. Austin, Jackson and Connor are back to recap last week's action and break down the two huge matchups this week with Minnesota and Michigan State.
[embed]https://open.spotify.com/episode/6oCvcCa1huVN0HS2hFtedy?si=WpK31oOpQDiH29BO9-6xww[/embed] The gang is back, this time praising the team after another big win over Iowa, 67-65. Indiana got great performances from Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson, plus big minutes from the freshman and huge shots down the stretch from Rob Phinisee and Armaan Franklin. They discuss all of that, plus the NCAA Tournament hopes for the Hoosiers.
Jack and Tommy break down Indiana's huge win at Northwestern and preview a big week of basketball that features matchups with Ohio State and Michigan State, two teams that will put Indiana's talented backcourt to the test. https://www.spreaker.com/user/iumediapods/wbb-pod-1-27
College basketball in 2021 is all about offense and Indiana basketball has the opposite mentality. No. 1 Gonzaga is on a historic pace for points per game. No. 4 Iowa is averaging 92 points per game. Teams are shooting 3-pointers at a higher clip all across the country. Meanwhile, in Bloomington, the Hoosiers haven’t yet adapted to today’s game. When you watch Indiana basketball, both offensively and defensively, they appear to be stuck in the past. They want to win games by bullying opponents in the paint, without much explosion from beyond the arc. As evident by the results, this isn’t working. Indiana is now 8-6, and 3-4 in the Big Ten, and in serious jeopardy of missing the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight season (not counting last season due to the tournament’s cancellation). Now seems as good of a time as any to make some drastic changes. It’s time to change the starting lineup. The revised starting five would feature Al Durham, Trey Galloway and Armaan Franklin, with Jerome Hunter and Trayce Jackson-Davis down low. This doesn’t have anything to do with Race Thompson’s production. He has taken a huge step this season, averaging 9.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. The issue isn’t in his game. The issue is in the lack of depth for Indiana at forward, and its need to spread the floor better. Indiana is last in the Big Ten in 3-point makes per game (6.1) and second-to-last in 3-point attempts per game (18.7). Most importantly, Indiana is second-to-last in points per game (72.6). Indiana can benefit off of a Hunter-Thompson switch for multiple reasons. First off, Hunter helps spread the floor with an extra shooter. Hunter is shooting 37% from 3 this season, but probably isn’t getting enough looks in the offense coming off the bench. Secondly, it frees up space for the big men to operate in the paint. Jackson-Davis put up 25 points against Purdue and Thompson had a double-double, and yet Indiana was blown out. It might work best in this offense if the two of them can play on their own, with more room to operate in an unclogged paint. Finally, with Indiana’s lack of depth, it could help its post players stay out of foul trouble and give them more rest if they are able to spell each other throughout the game. Indiana coach Archie Miller has stressed the fatigue issues this team has had, especially with Jackson-Davis, who is third in the Big Ten in minutes per game (34.0). The next closest “center” is Luke Garza, who averages 30.1 minutes per game, tied for 20th in the conference. Imagine how much better Indiana’s late-game execution could be if Jackson-Davis’ minutes are just reduced four or five minutes per game. Think about Indiana’s losses this season. In the Florida State, Northwestern, Illinois and Wisconsin losses, they had at least a four-point lead with under nine minutes in the second half in all four games. Against Purdue last Thursday, Indiana was within four with 10:47 to play. The common result in all of those games: an inability to finish. This matchup with Iowa might be the perfect time to change something up. The fanbase is outraged after an eighth straight loss to Purdue. They’re losing faith in a season that felt so promising not even a month ago. Iowa is going to score a lot of points, averaging 87 points per game in Big Ten games. In order to hang with the Hawkeyes, the Hoosiers will need to take and make 3-pointers and be able to stretch the floor. Iowa will also play a high-paced game, making Indiana run defensively. Fatigue has been an issue all season for Indiana, with only 10 healthy scholarship players. Allowing Jackson-Davis and Thompson to give each other breathers could help them stay fresh longer. It’s not a game that Indiana is likely to win, but Archie Miller showing the fan base he’s trying to figure something out by changing up the lineup might be a positive sign for an outraged Hoosier nation. Miller has proven to be a defensive-first head coach, but in today's game, it may be time to start searching for answers on the offensive end instead of always looking to shore up the defense. Miller is not known to tinker with his starting lineup much in his Indiana tenure, but he's already done it once this season, subbing in Galloway for Rob Phinisee, so maybe he would be open to it again. And who knows, maybe a change is the jolt Indiana needs heading into a grueling stretch of the schedule.
[embed]https://open.spotify.com/episode/6GPhcxeoS3sRu6BDsOnP8O?si=S0I8AnY7StuEJEx4ZzjtkQ[/embed] Austin Render, Jackson Yeary and Connor Hines are back together for the latest episode. They break down the Wisconsin game (0:00-17:45), including the late game situations, defense of Trice, lack of offensive rebounding, the emergence of Anthony Leal and Jerome Hunter, and more. Then they break down the win over Nebraska (17:45-32:00), where the guards emerged in place of a struggling Trayce Jackson-Davis. They also break down the Big Ten standings (32:00-43:15) and the matchup with Purdue coming up on Thursday (43:15-59:45).
[embed]https://open.spotify.com/episode/4ex8JvKXoga1lrDVjDrtaq?si=E1logKUWT16EoWVetjx-mQ[/embed] Austin Render and Jackson Yeary discuss the recent performance of Indiana men's basketball in its wins over Penn State and Maryland. They break down the injury to Armaan Franklin and how that might affect the team, plus in depth analysis on Rob Phinisee, Al Durham, Race Thompson, TJD, Jerome Hunter, Anthony Leal, and more.
This has been the weirdest football season in the history of college football. Well, at least in my lifetime. We finished the regular season on Saturday, and I was supposed to watch a bowl game on Monday? There's a 2-8 team in a bowl game? Indiana is going to the Outback Bowl? What a weird year. No one played the same amount of games, but in the end, Ohio State is the Big Ten Champion. Here's how I have everyone else stacking up after a bizarre year. [embed]https://twitter.com/B1Gfootball/status/1340401390347112448[/embed] 14. Michigan State (2-4) Last week: OFF Previous ranking: 14 It was a strange year for Michigan State, but the Spartans have two very solid wins to show recruits and the returning players to prove Mel Tucker's system can work. However, they had quarterback issues (Rocky Lombardi has entered the transfer portal), defensive liabilities, and lots of room to improve as they look ahead to year two for Tucker and company. 13. Illinois (2-6) Last week: 21-56 LOSS at Penn State Previous ranking: 10 I started to believe in Illinois after a couple of wins over Rutgers and Nebraska (and the tweet), but a bunch of blowout losses coming home established the fact that Illinois just isn't a good football team. Lovie Smith is gone. We'll see if Bret Bielema can do anything in Champaign, but they were a dysfunctional football team that couldn't stop anyone on defense and had no offensive consistency. 12. Rutgers (3-6) Last week: 21-28 LOSS vs Nebraska Previous ranking: 13 I still maintain that Rutgers was a much improved football team this year. It would have been tough to get worse than it was in 2019, but Greg Schiano's return seemed to spark something in Piscataway. After its first two losses to Indiana and Ohio State, they lost by three, six (in overtime), 16, and seven. They were a very competitive 3-6, and there's something brewing at Rutgers for next season. 11. Michigan (2-4) Last week: OFF Previous ranking: 12 We didn't see Michigan the last two weeks, so it seems like we've all forgotten how bad the season was for the Wolverines. Joe Milton turned out to be a swing-and-a-miss at quarterback, longtime defensive coordinator Don Brown had his worst showing of his career, and Jim Harbaugh's seat is red-hot. They lost to Michigan State, a previously winless Penn State, and allowed Wisconsin to score 49 points, which now looks really, really bad. I am very interested to see what the offseason looks like in Ann Arbor, but please don't forget how bad of a season this was for Michigan football. 10. Purdue (2-4) Last week: OFF Previous ranking: 9 Purdue is in the same situation as Michigan. The Boilermakers were trending in the wrong direction, after losing three straight, and with matchups against Indiana scheduled in the final weeks, it looked like a 2-5 or 2-6 season was inevitable. They fired defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, but that certainly isn't the only issue Purdue has. This will be an important offseason for one of the highest-paid coaches in the country. If he can't get things turned around in West Lafayette next season, his time might be up. 9. Nebraska (3-5) Last week: 28-21 WIN at Rutgers Previous ranking: 11 [embed]https://twitter.com/HuskerFBNation/status/1340148808051814404[/embed] One last time, thank you Nebraska for bringing back Big Ten football. If it weren't for you, who knows what would have happened (we probably still would have played, but let's let them have this one). Nebraska ends the season on a win, finishes 3-5, and declines a bowl bid. What a strange sentence. See you next year Cornhuskers. Next up: at No. 12 Indiana; Saturday, 3:30 ET on BTN 8. Maryland (2-3) Last week: OFF Previous ranking: 6 Maryland was a tough read all season. The Terrapins couldn't ever get going because of COVID issues. In its final game of the year, Maryland was missing its quarterback, Tualia Tagovailoa, and lost at Rutgers because of some back kicking and illegal blindside blocks. Maryland was improved from year one of Mike Locksley, but there are still some gaps to be filled before they can contend in the Big Ten. 7. Minnesota (3-4) Last week: 17-20 (OT) LOSS at Wisconsin Previous ranking: 7 Minnesota had a lot of COVID issues as well this year, but even with that, the Golden Gophers were not as good as expected at the beginning of the year. Mohamed Ibrahim, the Big Ten Running Back of the Year, was phenomenal, but Tanner Morgan took a step back, and top wideout Rashod Bateman opted out, then back in, then back out again. This is a weird year and it's hard to judge teams in 2020, but at first glance, it's a disappointing season in Minneapolis. 6. Wisconsin (3-3) Last week: 20-17 (OT) WIN vs Minnesota Previous ranking: 5 Wisconsin just isn't that good. That was a solid final week for the Badgers, keeping Paul Bunyan's Axe in Madison and finishing at .500 for the regular season, but just like their rivals, they were a highly ranked team early, were hit by COVID, and never rebounded. Wisconsin's offense was without many weapons throughout the season, but it was boring, slow and unproductive. Graham Mertz is clearly the guy though, with Jack Coan entering the transfer portal. With that being said, Chase Wolff was solid in leading Wisconsin to the win in the season finale. We'll see who starts the bowl game next week. Next up: Duke's Mayo Bowl vs Wake Forest (4-4); Wednesday, Dec. 30, Noon ET on ESPN 5. Penn State (4-5) Last week: 56-21 WIN vs Illinois Previous ranking: 8 Big props to Penn State for what the team did this season. No, it was nowhere near what was expected of the Nittany Lions, but an 0-5 team could easily pack it in and say, "see you next year." But Penn State didn't, and rallied off four straight wins to finish the season. Sean Clifford seemed to get some of his swagger back, but most importantly, the receivers, specifically Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington, grew a lot and showed an immense amount of potential for years to come. Penn State will be just fine next season if all these weapons stick around. 4. Iowa (6-2) Last week: 35-21 WIN at Illinois Previous ranking: 4 Iowa is just a solid football team. A six-game win streak is impressive, no matter how down the conference is this year. Spencer Petras got a solid eight games of experience and will be ready to contend in the Big Ten West next season — which I guess now runs through Evanston? Iowa will certainly find another running back that no one can stop, and they'll be locked and loaded next season. Next up: TransPerfect Music City Bowl vs Missouri (5-5); Wednesday, Dec. 30, 4 p.m. ET on ESPN 3. Northwestern (6-2) Last week: 10-22 LOSS vs No. 3 Ohio State Previous ranking: 3 Northwestern might be the kings of the Big Ten West for the time being. I know last season they were terrible, but in 2018 and 2020, they received the honor of being the Big Ten West team to get beat by Ohio State in Indianapolis. Peyton Ramsey was a really solid edition, and their linebackers were ridiculously talented. If any or all of them return next season, I would imagine the West runs through Evanston (or Chicago) again in 2021. Next up: VRBO Citrus Bowl vs Auburn (6-4); Friday, Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET on ABC 2. Indiana (6-1) Last week: OFF Previous ranking: 2 You can check out our columns and other articles to hear our crew's thoughts on where Indiana is for bowl season, so I'll spare my thoughts. Indiana will get a chance to finish off one of its best seasons ever against an under-.500 Ole Miss team, and carry a lot of momentum into next season. Tom Allen always coaches with a chip on his shoulder, and I think this team will truly be ready to contend for the Big Ten next season. It's time to stop sleeping on the Cream and Crimson. Next up: Outback Bowl vs Ole Miss (4-5); Saturday, Jan. 2, 12:30 p.m. ET on ABC 1. Ohio State (6-0) Last week: 22-10 WIN vs No. 14 Northwestern Previous ranking: 1 Well, Ohio State, you got what you wanted. The Big Ten changed the rules to get the Buckeyes in the championship, and even though it was ugly, they got the win and the berth in the playoff they felt they deserved. The Buckeyes were probably the best team in the Big Ten, but the way it was handled is bizarre to me. Nonetheless they'll get the doors blown off them in the playoff by Clemson and will bring in a new, talented recruiting class for next year and be the favorites in the Big Ten again in 2021. Next up: Allstate Sugar Bowl (CFP) vs No. 2 Clemson (10-1); Friday, Jan. 1, 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
With one week to go, we theoretically know who will play in the Big Ten Championship game. Well, we should know. Northwestern will come out of the West, and Indiana will come out of the East because Ohio State doesn't qualify for the 6-game minimum. But, it looks like Ohio State will have the rules changed for them and they will play in the Big Ten Championship. There are also COVID-19 issues that have already canceled one game (Michigan vs. Ohio State), while others are in jeopardy of the same fate. With that, I have attempted to rank teams 1-14 again in the Big Ten. Here goes nothing. 14. Michigan State (2-4) Last week: 12-52 LOSS vs No. 4 Ohio State Previous ranking: 11 Someone has to be last, and most of the teams in the bottom tier of the conference deserve to be. Michigan State has been here before, but then they knocked off Northwestern and temporarily moved up. But, after another disappointing showing this week, I truly believe they are the worst team in the league. It's by a small margin, but that's where we're at right now. Next up: at Penn State; Saturday, 3:30 ET on ESPN 13. Rutgers (2-5) Last week: 7-23 LOSS vs Penn State Previous ranking: 9 Rutgers was trending upward, but a home loss to a Penn State team that is missing most of its important players wasn't a great look for the Scarlet Knights. I thought they had a chance to win out and finish .500, but this loss was uninspiring and tough to watch. Quarterback Noah Vedral has done wonders for Rutgers' offense, but that didn't show on Saturday, scoring only once on a fourth-down chuck to the endzone. Rutgers could still win this weekend and finish with three wins, but this is a drop based on what I saw this past week from the Scarlet Knights. Next up: vs Maryland; Saturday, Noon ET 12. Michigan (2-4) Last week: OFF Previous ranking: 12 Michigan didn't play last week and won't play this week either, so they will stay here at No. 12. Sounds familiar to another Big Ten team staying at No. 12 in a different poll. Next up: CANCELLED vs No. 4 Ohio State 11. Nebraska (2-4) Last week: 27-37 WIN at Purdue Previous ranking: 14 Nebraska earns a bump based on its performance Saturday, a very impressive road win at Purdue. Nebraska isn't a good team, but this was enough of a statement to move them out of the Big Ten cellar. The Cornhuskers like to believe they are the reason the Big Ten is playing, so I guess we'll let them have that since the football they've played hasn't been pretty. Next up: vs Minnesota; Saturday, Noon ET 10. Illinois (2-4) Last week: 21-35 LOSS vs No. 19 Iowa Previous ranking: 8 Illinois was trending in the right direction. Brandon Peters seemed to be the difference. And for a quarter or so, it looked like Illinois was in position for its second straight season with a top-25 win. However, Iowa rallied together a 35-0 run and pulled away from the Illini. Illinois isn't great, but they aren't the worst. That's about all I have on Illinois this season. Next up: at No. 14 Northwestern; Saturday, Noon ET on ESPN2 9. Purdue (2-4) Last week: 27-37 LOSS vs Nebraska Previous ranking: 7 Purdue isn't good. That's official after this past weekend and the previous three weekends. A four-game losing streak after such a promising start should probably have them lower than No. 9, but the Big Ten is having a serious down year and that has allowed Purdue a 'pass' on this bad season. Next up: at No. 12 Indiana; Saturday, 3:30 ET on BTN 8. Penn State (2-5) Last week: 23-7 WIN at Rutgers Previous ranking: 13 I know, this is a big jump for a 2-5 team. However, we all know the talent this Penn State team has and it's finally showing. Back-to-back wins -- I don't care who they were playing -- is a sign of something and a reason to move them up in the rankings. I know this is typical optimist fan, but with the young talent emerging on this team, Penn State should be solid next season. Next up: vs Michigan State; Saturday, 3:30 ET on ESPN 7. Minnesota (2-3) Last week: OFF Previous ranking: 10 Minnesota didn't play, but they move up a lot because I haven't seen them play in awhile and a lot of other middle-of-the-conference teams lost this week. Next up: at Nebraska; Saturday, Noon ET 6. Maryland (2-2) Last week: OFF Previous ranking: 6 Another team with another game cancelled. Maryland has had it rough this season. I still think there's some talent on this team when they're healthy. Next up: vs Rutgers; Saturday, Noon ET 5. Wisconsin (2-2) Last week: 6-14 LOSS vs No. 12 Indiana Previous ranking: 4 As good of a win as it was for Indiana, I don't think Wisconsin is very good, especially offensively. Freshman quarterback Graham Mertz was a stud in week one, but it's fair to say that was more of Illinois' defense then it was Mertz and Wisconsin's offense . This team is far from the playoff contender we thought they were early in the season. Next up: at No. 16 Iowa; Saturday, 3:30 ET 4. Iowa (5-2) Last week: 35-21 WIN at Illinois Previous ranking: 5 I've been waiting to do something with Iowa, but the Hawkeyes' window didn't open until this week following another poor performance from Wisconsin. Iowa has played really good football, and Spencer Petras put together his best game in his young Hawkeye career. Iowa will be a tough out for Indiana or Ohio State, whoever they draw in next week's Champions Week. Next up: vs Wisconsin; Saturday, 3:30 ET 3. Northwestern (5-1) Last week: OFF Previous ranking: 3 Northwestern was also off last week, so they stay at No. 3. They continue to hover around the middle of the College Football Playoff rankings and they will be off to Indy next week for the Big Ten Championship. Next up: vs Illinois; Saturday, Noon ET on ESPN2 2. Indiana (6-1) Last week: 14-6 WIN at No. 16 Wisconsin Previous ranking: 2 What a win. At least I think so. Indiana dominated Wisconsin from start to finish, and Jack Tuttle made the throws he needed to in the red zone. The key to the game was Indiana's rushing attack and red zone effectiveness. Indiana was 2-for-2 inside the 20-yard line, scoring two touchdowns, while Wisconsin was 2-for-2 with two field goals. Next up: vs Purdue; Saturday, 3:30 ET on BTN 1. Ohio State (5-0) Last week: 52-12 WIN at Michigan State Previous ranking: 1 Ohio State wins but they won't play this week. Now we wait to see what the Big Ten will do. Ohio State is the best team in the conference, but I'm not sure that means the rules should be changed to meet the Buckeyes every need. We'll see what Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren and company decide to do. Next up: CANCELLED vs Michigan
Ohio State might not play enough games. Northwestern is now in a must-win situation in the final week against Illinois. Maryland and Michigan are on pace to not play this week. Wisconsin is eliminated from championship contention. No word better describes the Big Ten this season than "chaos." Nobody knows what is going to happen in the final two weeks, but what I do know is where everyone ranks in my latest power rankings. A quick reminder: I rank these teams based very much off of "what have you done for me lately." The bottom half of the conference is a mess, so I tried my best to rank them even though they've all beaten each other. 14. Nebraska (1-4) Last week: 20-26 LOSS at No. 24 Iowa Previous ranking: 11 No one is winless anymore, and everyone behind Nebraska won this past week, so the Cornhuskers, who may or may not have saved Big Ten football, are the worst team in the Big Ten. Talent wise, they may not be, but by production and performance, they certainly are. They can't decide who their quarterback is, their leading rusher who is actually listed as a running back had five carries for 23 yards, and their defense played well but was forced to be on the field for too long. Thank you for bringing back Big Ten football. Next up: at Purdue; Saturday, Noon ET on BTN 13. Penn State (1-5) Last week: 27-17 WIN at Michigan Previous ranking: 14 Penn State did win, and that was good to see, but it's still a flawed team with a lot of injuries in key positions. Without its top three running backs, freshman Keyvone Lee was great, running for 134 yards and a touchdown. Clifford was fine, throwing for 163 and a QBR of 80.8, but he is still inconsistent through the air. Penn State has its issues, but for the moment, after a win, I'll move them out of the cellar, even though Nebraska owns the head-to-head. Next up: at Rutgers; Saturday, Noon ET 12. Michigan (2-4) Last week: 17-27 LOSS vs Penn State Previous ranking: 10 Michigan is bad, and that is official (if it wasn't already). One hundred and 12 yards between the two quarterbacks, they allowed 254 yards rushing, and lost to the only winless team in the Big Ten. Now, they've shut down their facilities because of a couple of COVID-19 positive tests. This could be very interesting, because if they are enough to cancel games, they have Ohio State in two weeks and could stand in the way of Ohio State qualifying for the Big Ten Championship. They can't beat OSU, but maybe they will have to cancel, keeping Ohio State out of the Big Ten Championship and potentially the College Football Playoff. Next up: at Purdue; Saturday, 4 p.m. ET on FS1 11. Michigan State (2-3) Last week: 29-20 WIN vs No. 8 Northwestern Previous ranking: 13 Michigan State just doesn't want to go away, does it? I thought they were the worst team in the Big Ten, then they knock off No. 8 Northwestern. I don't know anymore. The Spartans are 2-1 against ranked teams somehow. Rocky Lombardi was only 11-for-27, but he made some big time throws in the first half for touchdowns. He was also effective on the ground (10 carries, 65 yards). The defense was also great, picking off Peyton Ramsey twice and forcing two fumbles. I'm not about to say they can hang with Ohio State this weekend, but I don't know, maybe there is some talent on this Michigan State team, just maybe. Next up: vs No. 4 Ohio State; Saturday, Noon ET on ABC 10. Minnesota (2-3) Last week: OFF Previous ranking: 8 Minnesota has a lot of COVID-19 issues among its team, so there isn't anything new to report here. The Gophers game this week has already been canceled. Next up: CANCELED vs No. 8 Northwestern 9. Rutgers (2-4) Last week: 37-30 WIN at Purdue Previous ranking: 12 Rutgers is close to a good football team. They lost in double overtime to Michigan and lost late to Illinois. Flip even one of those games and they have a chance at finishing over .500 this year. Even without Noah Vedral, Rutgers threw for over 250 yards between Artur Sitkowski and Johnny Langan. Langan ran all over the Purdue defense, finishing with 95 yards on 21 carries. They also didn't turn the ball over at all, certainly a recipe for success on the road in the Big Ten. This is a bad loss for Purdue but a great win for Rutgers. They needed it and now have a favorable schedule and a chance to finish 4-4 and possibly sneak into a bowl game. What a turnaround for Rutgers football this season. Next up: vs Penn State; Saturday, Noon ET 8. Illinois (2-3) Last week: 34-31 WIN vs. Purdue Previous ranking: 9 Illinois is one of the many in the bottom half of the league I can't figure out how to rank. They had such a horrible start to the season, but also got a couple of nice wins over Rutgers and Nebraska to start to turn the season around. I don't think they're terrible, and I think not having the starting quarterback hurt them early. Now they have Brandon Peters back and they're playing much better football. Illinois will have a chance to play spoiler on the final week when they take on Northwestern. A win could keep the Wildcats out of the Big Ten Championship game. Next up: at No. 18 Wisconsin; Saturday, 2 p.m. ET on BTN 7. Purdue (2-3) Last week: 30-37 LOSS vs Rutgers Previous ranking: 6 I don't think Purdue is good, but no one outside the top five is really that good, so I struggle on where to rank them. They've all beaten each other. Purdue has beaten Iowa, a very solid win, and Illinois, but they've lost to Minnesota (but probably shouldn't have), Rutgers and Northwestern. I know it was a good win for Rutgers, but it was a terrible loss for Purdue. They had a double-digit lead and ran only four plays in the fourth quarter and watched the lead slip away. Purdue is average. They're very solid on offense and very poor on defense. It's as simple as that for the Boilermakers. Next up: vs Nebraska; Saturday, Noon ET on BTN 6. Maryland (2-2) Last week: 11-27 LOSS at No. 12 Indiana Previous ranking: 7 Maryland is also not very good. However, because of its COVID outbreak, the team missed games and was missing a lot of players for the Indiana game, helping stay in the top half of my rankings. Taulia Tagovailoa wasn't great, throwing three interceptions and having a really poor read on a read option play, leading to a game-changing safety. Indiana cornerback Tiawan Mullen talked about how if Taulia looks one way, he's going that way, and it was easy to read him. That's something that will likely improve over time. I still don't think Maryland is in the bottom tier of the Big Ten, but their ranked 6th because no one else really deserves it. Next up: at Michigan; Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET on BTN 5. Iowa (4-2) Last week: 26-20 WIN vs Nebraska Previous ranking: 5 Iowa is a solid football team, and I'm sure the Hawkeyes would like to have those first two weeks back, especially that 17-0 lead they had on Northwestern. They are still in the race if Northwestern loses to Illinois, but either way, they're looking at a possible matchup with Indiana or Ohio State in the crossover week nine. Certainly a chance to prove themselves. Spencer Petras isn't great, but the run game and the defense are good enough to win them games. We knew this already. Next up: at Illinois; Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET on BTN 4. Wisconsin (2-1) Last week: OFF Previous ranking: 4 Wisconsin was off, so no movement here. They can move up, obviously, with a win over Indiana this week. Next up: vs No. 12 Indiana; Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC 3. Northwestern (5-1) Last week: 20-29 LOSS at Michigan State Previous ranking: 2 Northwestern was the biggest loser this week. The team only dropped one spot, but man, that was an awful loss. This team was looking at a matchup with Ohio State and a chance at the College Football Playoff, but instead, they couldn't get past Rocky Lombardi and the Spartans. Turnovers were bad, timely stops on defense weren't there, but most important, the quarterback play is underwhelming. Ask Indiana fans about Ramsey. They loved him as a guy and he did a lot of great things, but in big moments, he tends to struggle. That was a big moment Saturday and he faded away. Next up: CANCELED at Minnesota 2. Indiana (5-1) Last week: 27-11 WIN vs Maryland Previous ranking: 3 Indiana may have moved up, but the Hoosiers lost Michael Penix for the year and may not stay here for long. Jack Tuttle is unproven, so maybe he'll lead a late-season surge, but Indiana could be in some trouble. Its saving grace will be its defense, which forced three more turnovers against Maryland. They also got three touchdowns from Stevie Scott on the ground plus 106 yards from freshman running back Tim Baldwin, who filled in for Sampson James. If Indiana can have a balanced attack and a strong defense, that will make life much easier for Jack Tuttle. He'll be thrown into the fire Saturday against Wisconsin. Next up: at No. 18 Wisconsin; Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC 1. Ohio State (4-0) Last week: OFF Previous ranking: 1 No game for Ohio State this week, which created more buzz than if the Buckeyes had beaten Illinois. They cannot miss any more games or else they will not be eligible for the Big Ten Championship. If I'm being honest, they might get more out of beating Iowa or Wisconsin in the second-place game than a limping Northwestern team in the Championship. But, we'll see what happens and if Ohio State ends up playing this weekend. Next up: at Michigan State; Saturday, Noon ET on ABC
Indiana’s Maui Invitational experience was turned on its head Tuesday afternoon. No. 17 Texas did to Indiana what the Hoosiers did to Providence the day before, dominating Indiana to the tune of 66-44 to advance to the Maui Invitational championship game, leaving Indiana to pick up the pieces of an embarrassing loss. Where do you want to start? How about only scoring 44 points, including 19 in the first half? What about Indiana’s shooting woes, going 2-for-10 from 3 and 24 percent from the floor? Or we could discuss Indiana’s 14 turnovers. “Texas, a little bit, stunned our guys the first four or five minutes of the game,” head coach Archie Miller said. “They imposed, early on, how physical and how tough they were going to play, and I thought that played a role and knocked us on our heels.” Almost every issue that has come up during Archie Miller’s three-plus year tenure at Indiana presented itself Tuesday. A day removed from a solid performance against Providence, Indiana looked like one of Miller’s teams from year one or two. It felt like we were watching Indiana vs. Michigan from 2018, when Indiana scored just 18 points in the first half. It also felt like Purdue in February of this year, when Indiana scored 20 points in the first half. It felt like the Northwestern game in January when Indiana went over seven minutes without a field goal to end the first half. Tuesday's effort felt like that of the Indiana State and Fort Wayne losses from Miller’s first season. The point is, this game was just a continuation of every Archie Miller game, and all the problems that come along with that. Let’s start on offense. Indiana’s 44 points is its worst since 2008, Tom Crean’s first season. Shooting is still a huge issue. The Hoosiers were 9-for-36 inside the arc. They made only five shots in the first half and six in the second. They were 24 percent from the floor and 20 percent from 3. Somehow, Indiana’s 20-for-29 performance from the free-throw line is able to hide behind these other horrible shooting percentages. “Our offense, in general, got taken off its rails today,” Miller said. “We gotta execute better, we have to have better pace, we have to have better movement.” Trayce Jackson-Davis, a preseason All-Big Ten first team member, looked lost throughout the game. He finished 5-for-12 and was outmatched down low by Texas’s numerous big men (but not five-star Greg Brown, who fouled out with just two points). “I think Trayce, in general, as I’m watching him down here, he doesn’t have the pop in his legs in and around the rim,” Miller said. The Hoosiers were down at halftime, 31-19, with five made baskets and nine turnovers. They finished with 14 turnovers, many of which felt unforced and lazy. Five turnovers for Jackson-Davis in the post is something Indiana cannot have if it wants to win against almost anybody. On the glass, it wasn’t pretty for Indiana. They were outrebounded 48-29, including 14 offensive rebounds for the Longhorns, leading to 11 second-chance points. Texas won points in the paint 30-16. All of this is to say that, whether it was a lack of size, a lack of bodies (Joey Brunk), or whatever the issue, Indiana was manhandled by this long, athletic Texas team. “We got beat up on the glass,” Miller said. “They beat us in every one of those phases and at the end of the day we were dominated in those little things.” Defensively, it wasn’t a terrible performance for Indiana, but that’s been the Archie Miller way. Indiana tends to play pretty solid defense for good stretches of the game, but the offense severely lags behind and eventually the defense gives way. Texas shot 39 percent overall, including 28 percent on 7-for-25 from long range. So, the defense wasn’t really the issue, but Indiana’s offense has to give its defense some help eventually. You know it's bad when Bill Walton pauses his rambling to yell, "Indiana, make a shot. Please!" It’s time for guys to step up. Jackson-Davis wasn’t the dominant post presence he was expected to be. Rob Phinisee disappeared in another important moment for this Indiana offense. Race Thompson followed up his first career double-double with four points on 1-for-5 shooting. Prior to sustaining what Miller said was an ankle injury, Al Durham was just 2-for-7 and didn’t attempt a single 3-pointer. Jerome Hunter’s 3-pointer was the only basket scored from a bench player Tuesday. All of this needs to change or else Indiana will continue to pedal through another season of mediocrity. This performance certainly drowns out any positives taken from a great win to start the Invitational against Providence. Where Indiana goes from here is uncertain, but Miller continues to try and spin this in a positive direction. It may be early in the season, but the clock is ticking on Miller in year four. He can’t afford to have games like this anymore. “We’re better than how we played today,” Miller said. They will have to find a quick fix because Wednesday will be another tough game against either No. 14 North Carolina or a young, talented Stanford team.
After huge wins by Ohio State and Northwestern, it appears inevitable that the two will square off Dec. 19 in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship. The bottom of the Big Ten continues to be a mess that we haven't seen in a long time, and then there's Iowa, stuck in the middle. Here's how I see things heading into week six of the Big Ten football season. 14. Penn State (0-5) Last week: 21-41 LOSS vs. Iowa Previous ranking: 11 For the first time in school history, Penn State is 0-5. Yeah, 11 to 14 is a big drop, but I think this team is deserving of being in the basement of the Big Ten. They tried Sean Clifford, and he threw a couple interceptions and had a QBR of 40.4. Then Will Levis came in. He didn't throw any interceptions, but had no touchdowns and a QBR of 56.2. Penn State has been hurt with the losses of Micah Parsons (opt-out), Journey Brown (retirement), and Noah Cain (injury). But even with that, they are still a team with a lot of talent, but they can't find a quarterback, Pat Freiermuth is now out for the season, and the "tough" defense stinks. The only chance Penn State could possibly pull itself out of the last spot is a win over Rutgers or Michigan State. For the sake of Penn State football, please win those games. Next up: at Michigan; Saturday, Noon ET on ABC 13. Michigan State (1-3) Last week: OFF Previous ranking: 14 Michigan State benefited from me not having to watch them this past week. I'm sure they would have lost to Maryland, but because the game didn't happen and Penn State looked bad, again, they were able to move up to 13th. Next up: vs. No. 11 Northwestern; Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2 12. Rutgers (1-4) Last week: 42-48 LOSS (3OT) vs. Michigan Previous ranking: 13 Man, Rutgers, you had this one. Up 17-0, the Scarlet Knights controlled the game for the first three quarters. Then they had a field goal to win in first overtime. Somehow, they weren't able to finish, and now Rutgers is facing another one- or two-win season. They had chances late against Illinois and Michigan, and without those, Penn State might be the last chance to steal a win. Despite the record, Noah Vedral was a great addition for Rutgers. He has put some life into this offense. He finished with 381 yards and three scores. The offense is not the issue anymore, which is a step in the right direction for Rutgers. Next up: at Purdue; Saturday, 4 p.m. ET on FS1 11. Nebraska (1-3) Last week: 23-41 LOSS vs. Illinois Previous ranking: 8 I've had a wrong read on Nebraska for most of the year. I thought they had some talent, albeit a tough schedule, and would be a middle-of-the-road Big Ten team. That has not been the case at all. Luke McCaffrey was bad, throwing for 134 yards and three interceptions. They had to go back to Aidan Martinez, a guy who many put in the Heisman rankings before last season. Man, how things have changed in Lincoln. Nebraska is not good, but Illinois Twitter is. That tweet is the nail in the coffin for Nebraska's 2020 season. Next up: at Iowa; Friday, 1 p.m. ET on FOX 10. Michigan (2-3) Last week: 48-42 WIN (3OT) at Rutgers Previous ranking: 10 We're getting closer to a win over Rutgers meaning a little bit more, but we aren't there yet. For Michigan, any win would have been welcomed to stop the slide, but that doesn't mean they are a better football team. Last week I said I thought they had found their quarterback and he wasn't the issue. Well, turns out he was the issue, and they found a solution mid-game. Cade McNamara entered and threw for 260 yards and four touchdowns, leading Michigan back from a 17-0 hole to win in triple OT. If Michigan can have balance offensively, which it did on Saturday, there's a chance the Wolverines could turn this slightly around. 4-4 and is very possible, with Penn State and Maryland the next two weeks. Then it'll leave a very interesting decision with Jim Harbaugh. Next up: vs. Penn State; Saturday, Noon ET on ABC 9. Illinois (2-3) Last week: 41-23 WIN at Nebraska Previous ranking: 12 The tweet alone is enough reason to move Illinois up to ninth. But the play of late is another reason. Illinois got Brandon Peters back from COVID-19, and he finished 18-for-25 with 205 yards and a touchdown. He was helped with a pair of 100-yard rushers and a defense that forced five turnovers. Illinois isn't a very good team, but the Illini seem to have figured out some of the issues they had early in the season (a lot of that is Peters returning). They won't win this week against Ohio State, but if I'm Northwestern in the final week of the season, I'd be on high alert. Next up: vs. No. 3 Ohio State; Saturday, Noon ET on FS1 8. Minnesota (2-3) Last week: 34-31 WIN vs. Purdue Previous ranking: 9 Minnesota doesn't deserve this win based on the terrible pass interference call, but people are forgetting the 58 minutes of game play before that moment. Minnesota didn't get handed the win for 60 minutes. With that being said, it still should have been a loss and Minnesota isn't gaining a lot of respect from me because of this "win." Minnesota's offense is back? I just don't know what to think about Minnesota anymore. They are extremely hot and cold and last week, the offense was hot enough to get the win. Next up: at No. 18 Wisconsin; Saturday, 2 p.m. ET on BTN 7. Maryland (2-1) Last week: OFF Previous ranking: 7 These game cancellations could end up helping Maryland when the end of the season comes and they have only a couple losses. This could put them in a game against Wisconsin or Iowa during championship weekend. This week against Indiana will be a good test to see just how good this Maryland team is. Next up: at Indiana; Saturday, Noon ET on ESPN2 6. Purdue (2-2) Last week: 31-34 LOSS at Minnesota Previous ranking: 6 Purdue looked good despite the loss. With a backup quarterback, the offense still put up 31 points, and it really should have been 38. Jake Plummer was plugged in and it didn't make a difference, throwing for 367 yards and three touchdowns. Purdue still needs a little bit more balance in the run game, but Zander Horvath did have 68 yards on 10 carries. That's a step in the right direction. Not sure what's left for Purdue to play for besides just getting above .500. A win would have kept the Boilermakers alive in the West, but now, with a pretty easy schedule before playing Indiana, they have a chance to finish over .500 and get back to a bowl game. Next up: vs. Rutgers; Saturday, 4 p.m. ET on FS1 5. Iowa (3-2) Last week: 41-21 WIN at Penn State Previous ranking: 5 I don't know what happened to Iowa, but it looks like a football team that should be in contention in the West. However, the Hawkeyes had two sloppy second halves against Purdue and Northwestern to start the season and are out of the running. Saturday featured another 100-plus yard game and another two touchdowns for Mekhi Sargent. Spencer Petras continues to do what he needs to do and the defense continues to create turnovers. There's not much else to say about the Hawkeyes. They have trapped themselves in the middle of the Big Ten West and have no way of getting out. Next up: vs. Nebraska; Friday, 1 p.m. ET on FOX 4. Wisconsin (2-1) Last week: 7-17 LOSS at No. 19 Northwestern Previous ranking: 2 I was impressed by Wisconsin through two games, but still knew that the team had only played Illinois and Michigan. I think we found the real Wisconsin on Saturday. This is a team that has a stellar defense, but, without Jonathan Taylor, struggles to run the ball and doesn't have the weapons on the outside to challenge a great defense like Northwestern. The Badgers did move the ball, but couldn't convert for points and turned the ball over five times, very un-Wisconsin like. Wisconsin is likely out of the West conversation because Northwestern would have to lose twice and its remaining schedule is pretty easy. So now Wisconsin will have its eyes on Indiana and a possible play-in game for a New Year's Six Bowl or likely a high-tier New Year's Day bowl. Next up: vs. Minnesota; Saturday, 2 p.m. ET on BTN 3. Indiana (4-1) Last week: 35-42 LOSS at No. 3 Ohio State Previous ranking: 3 Indiana has had a lot of tough losses to Ohio State in the past. This one is right up at the top. Two fumbles in the red zone, costly drops, missed tackles, the list goes on and on. But for the first time in forever, it felt like Indiana deserved to be on the field with Ohio State. Penix was phenomenal (491 yards, five touchdowns), and Ty Fryfogle is the first Big Ten receiver ever to have back-to-back 200 yard games. That's crazy. The big concern for Indiana moving forward is the run game. They finished with -1 yards rushing. If Indiana wants to beat Wisconsin and have its hopes alive for a New Year's Six Bowl, it will need to establish a consistent run game that can help balance out the offense. Next up: vs. Maryland; Saturday, Noon ET on ESPN2 2. Northwestern (5-0) Last week: 17-7 WIN vs. No. 10 Wisconsin Previous ranking: 4 Northwestern is legit. That defense was suffocating. Peyton Ramsey is moving the football and being the smart quarterback we all know him to be. He's not forced to do a lot, but he does exactly what Northwestern needs from him. They can run the ball, they can defend, they can do it all. Is Northwestern Ohio-State-level legit? No. But it's the second-best team in the conference and will have a crack at Ohio State in a couple weeks. The Wildcats also ruined the Indiana vs. Peyton Ramsey championship week game, which is disappointing. Next up: at Michigan State; Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2 1. Ohio State (4-0) Last week: OFF Previous ranking: 1 There are certainly issues on this Ohio State team. The offensive line was being beaten up on passing downs, and the secondary was atrocious. But they found a way to win, and they figured out how to beat Indiana: with short passing and running. If Ohio State can run the ball like that, the Buckeyes will be a tough out come playoff time. I know Indiana is better than usual, but I still come away from that game saying Ohio State isn't on the same level as Alabama and Justin Fields isn't a legit Heisman candidate. He threw three picks and was sacked five times against the first real defense he faced. There are issues in Columbus, but Ohio State is still the cream of the crop in the Big Ten. Next up: at Illinois; Saturday, Noon ET on FS1
The Big Ten continues to be unpredictable. Penn State can't win a game, Michigan and Michigan State look terrible, Northwestern may have proven itself, Wisconsin is officially good, and Indiana has a measuring stick game upcoming. The middle to bottom of the Big Ten is terrible, and it's going to be really hard to rank them. Fair warning, I think anyone from 10-14 could be ranked last, and might deserve to be ranked last. With that said, here are my rankings heading into week five of Big Ten play. 14. Michigan State (1-3) Last week: 0-24 LOSS vs No. 10 Indiana Previous ranking: 11 All you have to do is look at the zero in the points column for Michigan State to see how poorly the Spartans played Saturday. They have been dominated in all three of their losses, nowhere close to being competitive. Rocky Lombardi went 3-for-7 with two interceptions before being pulled for Payton Thorne, who also threw an interception. They can't throw, they can't run, and besides Indiana shooting itself in the foot in the second half, they can't defend either. Next up: at Maryland (2-1); Saturday, Noon ET on BTN 13. Rutgers (1-3) Last week: 20-23 LOSS vs Illinois Previous ranking: 13 Rutgers was that close to getting back to .500 and creating a route to a possible 4-4 season. Now, with this loss, they're in some trouble and may struggle to win more than one more game this season. Noah Vedral was good (21-for-34, 256 yards, two touchdowns) and bad (three interceptions). They have a really good back in Isaih Pacheco, but if Vedral can't be more consistent, this offense will continue to struggle. The defense is good enough to win a game or two against Penn State or Michigan, but if the offense can't hold onto the football, Rutgers may be back to being the doormat of the Big Ten. Next up: Michigan (1-3); Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET on BTN 12. Illinois (1-3) Last week: 23-20 WIN at Rutgers Previous ranking: 14 Illinois is off the doormat, but still in the basement in the Big Ten. But a win is a win, and it's something Lovie Smith and Illinois really needed after a tough first three weeks. How about that run game? Isaiah Williams ran for 192 yards and Chase Brown ran for 131 yards. Add that to the potential return of Brandon Peters this week and Illinois might have a formidable offense to deal with. Illinois has certainly taken a step back from last season, but that's not all their fault. COVID-19 has hurt their roster and their schedule, and I would imagine this team will finish the season stronger. Next up: at Nebraska (1-2); Saturday, Noon ET on BTN 11. Penn State (0-4) Last week: 23-30 LOSS at Nebraska Previous ranking: 12 Penn State has played a difficult schedule, kind of. They've lost to Indiana and Ohio State, plus a Maryland team that might not be too bad, and a talented but underperforming Nebraska team. After an early interception, Penn State made the switch to Will Levis, who wasn't great (14-for-31), but did almost lead a late comeback effort. The recipe for Penn State will be running the ball. The Nittany Lions ran for 245 yards among five players. If they can continue that, with Levis continuing to get comfortable, they should be able to win a couple games down the stretch. But for now, their results have them in 13th place in the Big Ten. Next up: Iowa (2-2); Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET on BTN 10. Michigan (1-3) Last week: 11-49 LOSS vs No. 11 Wisconsin Previous ranking: 8 Like I said at the top, everyone from 10-14 deserves to be in last in the conference based on the way they've played. Michigan has lost three straight, and for the most part, hasn't been competitive. I think Michigan has a quarterback, but for the first time in a long time, Michigan's defense can't stop anyone and they can't win the battle in the trenches. Quarterback Joe Milton struggled, and was eventually benched, but I don't think this season is his fault. When you can't play defense, that puts even more pressure on the offense to deliver. In his first season as the starter, that's a lot of pressure on the QB to deliver, and so far, he hasn't delivered consistently. But again, the problem is the defense, not offense. Next up: at Rutgers; Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET on BTN 9. Minnesota (1-3) Last week: 7-35 LOSS vs Iowa Previous ranking: 9 So, Minnesota is back to being really bad. If it weren't for a last-minute touchdown, they would have been shut out. I thought Minnesota's offense was supposed to be one of the best in the Big Ten? Mohamed Ibrahim ran for over 100 yards, again, but Tanner Morgan threw two picks. The defense wasn't terrible, but gave up points at poor times, mainly hurt by offensive turnovers. Minnesota was one of the many Big Ten teams with high expectations that is nowhere close to living up to them. You have to wonder how long P.J. Fleck will be able to row the boat if this season continues to sink for Minnesota. Next up: Purdue (2-1); Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET on BTN 8. Nebraska (1-2) Last week: 30-23 WIN vs Penn State Previous ranking: 10 Nebraska isn't good, but it appears they're a little bit better than the bottom tier of the Big Ten. Just a little bit. Apparently Luke McCaffrey is their guy. He threw for 152 yards and ran for 67, both team highs. They didn't even have 300 total yards of offense, but the defense was good enough (or Penn State's offense was bad enough) to mask that. Nebraska is a long way from "returning" to the status in college football they had decades ago. They're firmly positioned in the middle of the Big Ten and I don't see that changing anytime soon. Next up: Illinois (1-3); Saturday, Noon ET on BTN 7. Maryland (2-1) Last week: OFF Previous ranking: 6 I was looking forward to seeing what Maryland had against a talented team like Ohio State. Nonetheless, I think they're much improved from last season and with a down year in the Big Ten, they should be one of the beneficiaries. Next up: Michigan State (1-3); Saturday, Noon ET on BTN 6. Purdue (2-1) Last week: 20-27 LOSS vs No. 23 Northwestern Previous ranking: 5 I know Purdue fans won't like this ranking, simply because the Boilermakers beat Iowa. But that was week one, and since then they squeaked out a win over Illinois and lost to Northwestern at home. Iowa has crushed Michigan State and Minnesota. This is a ranking simply off of "what have you done for me lately?" They are putting way too much pressure on Aidan O'Connell. He was forced to throw 51 times, while the team accumulated 2 yards of net rushing. Without O'Connell's sacks, it was still just 26 yards. Zander Horvath led the team with 10 carries for 21 yards. That's an issue, and if Purdue is going to win games, the offense has to be more balanced. Purdue will likely be fine because of its schedule. Purdue's next three opponents are Minnesota, Rutgers and Nebraska. They could certainly be 5-1, move up these rankings, and be set up for a showdown with Indiana at the end of the season. Next up: At Minnesota (1-3); Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET on BTN 5. Iowa (2-2) Last week: 35-7 WIN at Minnesota Previous ranking: 7 Iowa looks like a completely different team the past two weeks. Two tough, close losses at Purdue and Northwestern, but they've blown out the two teams they were better than, and I wasn't even sure they were better than Minnesota. They're not throwing the ball like they have in the past with quarterbacks like C.J. Beathard and Nate Stanley, but they can still run the ball and they can still defend. Let's be honest, who actually expected this team to struggle under Kirk Ferentz? They're never incredible, but they're never terrible. To me, it's not a surprising turnaround for Iowa. Now they have to be careful to not fall victim to Penn State's desperation this weekend. Next up: at Penn State (0-4); Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET on BTN 4. Northwestern (4-0) Last week: 27-20 WIN at Purdue Previous ranking: 4 Saturday was a very impressive win for Northwestern. There wasn't really a doubt that Northwestern was the better team in this game. They shut down Purdue's run game, turned them into a one-dimensional team that couldn't compete with the Wildcat defense. Peyton Ramsey has been efficient, throwing for 212 yards and three touchdowns. It's not surprising to see one of the most experienced Big Ten quarterbacks becoming a proven leader on Northwestern. Much like Indiana, Northwestern has a chance this weekend to take that next step. Right now, they're definitively better than most teams under them in these rankings. A loss this week keeps them here likely for the rest of the season, but a win puts them in the Big Ten Championship conversation. Next up: vs No. 10 Wisconsin (2-0); Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC 3. Indiana (4-0) Last week: 24-0 WIN at Michigan State Previous ranking: 2 Indiana didn't really do anything wrong to drop a spot. However, they weren't incredibly sharp and left a lot of points out there in the second half against the Spartans. Indiana will need to be a lot sharper this week against Ohio State. Michael Penix Jr. continues to improve and look like the quarterback we expect him to be. The receiving corps is one of the best in the country. The defense is playing with a noticeable edge. However, if Indiana is going to pull off the upset in Columbus, the team will need to step up in nearly every area. Indiana is good. We'll find out Saturday if they're great. Next up: at No. 3 Ohio State (3-0); Noon ET on FOX 2. Wisconsin (2-0) Last week: 49-11 WIN at Michigan Previous ranking: 3 Wisconsin looked really good. Like, really good. I know they've played Illinois and Michigan, two bottom-tier Big Ten teams, but they haven't left any doubt in either game. Graham Mertz didn't have to do as much Saturday, throwing only 22 times for 127 yards and two touchdowns, because the run game collected 341 yards. That's what we've come to expect from Wisconsin. They are a team that runs the ball down your throat and has a quarterback who can make plays when asked to. This weekend is a big game for Wisconsin. With their game against Purdue being canceled, this feels like the game to decide the Big Ten West. If Wisconsin wins, they're ready to compete with Ohio State (or Indiana) in the Big Ten. If they lose, there will be a lot of questions coming out of Madison. Next up: at No. 19 Northwestern (4-0); 3:30 ET on ABC 1. Ohio State (3-0) Last week: OFF Previous ranking: 1 Saturday is Ohio State's only "real" test remaining on its schedule. If Ohio State wins, the Buckeyes shouldn't have any issues finishing out the season undefeated and are likely on a path to the College Football Playoff. But, if something crazy happens this weekend, everything will be thrown out of whack. I think it hurts Indiana that this is Ohio State's last chance to make a statement for the playoff committee, because I think they will be a mission to do so Saturday. Next up: No. 9 Indiana (4-0); Saturday, Noon ET on FOX
Peyton Ramsey has Northwestern in first place in the Big Ten West. Michael Penix has Indiana tied atop the Big Ten East. Penn State is still winless after three weeks. This is not your usual Big Ten football season. Ohio State looks like the powerhouse we expected, but outside of that, it’s a crapshoot. Wisconsin hasn’t played since week one, Michigan, Penn State and Minnesota all started as ranked teams and are now under .500 through three weeks, and there are five remaining unbeatens. Here’s how things stack up in an abnormal 2020 Big Ten football season. 14. Illinois (0-3) Last week: 14-41 LOSS vs Minnesota Illinois punted on 4th and goal. I think that’s about all you need to know about the Illini. They continue to have to start backup QB Coran Taylor, who completed 6-of-17 passes for just 106 yards. Outside of a 52-yard completion, there wasn’t much life in this Illinois offense. It could be a long year in Champaign. Next up: at Rutgers (1-2); Saturday, Noon ET on BTN 13. Rutgers (1-2) Last week: 27-49 LOSS at No. 3 Ohio State Rutgers is a competitive 13th-best team in the Big Ten this year. It may not be as talented as most Big Ten teams, but it won’t go down without a fight. The Scarlet Knights will throw it across the field on punts, throw it to linemen in the red zone and blitz all the time. They made it respectable against Ohio State on Saturday. With Illinois, Michigan, Purdue, Penn State and Maryland still on the schedule, there’s a chance Rutgers could win three or four games. Just a chance. Next up: Illinois (0-3); Saturday, Noon ET on BTN 12. Penn State Last week: 19-35 LOSS vs Maryland Who thought we would see Penn State here after week three? Indiana may have stolen Penn State’s soul after that brutal overtime loss for the Nittany Lions in week one. Last week, Maryland led Penn State 35-7 after the first two minutes of the third quarter. Woah. The losses of Journey Brown and Noah Cain are proving bigger and bigger each week. The Nittany Lions running backs mustered just 65 yards in this game, and Sean Clifford was forced to throw it 57 times and run it 17 times. That’s a little too much pressure on poor Clifford. Next up: at Nebraska (0-2); Saturday, Noon ET on FS1 11. Michigan State Last week: 7-49 LOSS at Iowa Michigan State is only ahead of Penn State in the East standings because of its lone win over Michigan. But man, the Spartans' losses are bad. A thumping to Rutgers that included seven turnovers, then a 42-point defeat to a previously winless Iowa team, including three more interceptions from Rocky Lombardi. It was a sad effort in every phase of the game against the Hawkeyes. An Iowa team that has struggled to score all season, scored at will against Michigan State's lowly defense. Lombardi went 17-for-37 with three picks, and their leading rusher had just 34 yards. Michigan State showed what they’re capable of at the Big House, but their losses are huge red flags. Next up: No. 10 Indiana (3-0); Saturday, Noon ET on ABC 10. Nebraska (0-2) Last week: 13-21 LOSS at Northwestern Nebraska is winless, but they haven’t been embarrassed like Michigan State. Sure, they lost by a lot at Ohio State, but most teams will. This week's game was disappointing, though, after a bye week resulting from Wisconsin's cancellation. This is the same team that wanted to schedule Chattanooga because it needed more for the College Football Playoff Committee. Nebraska is already a laughing stock off the field, but they’re becoming one on the field, too. Starting quarterback Adrian Martinez didn't even finish this week's game at Northwestern, throwing for 125 yards and a pick. He was also the Cornhuskers' leading rusher with 102 yards on the ground. This offense has too many weapons to score only 13 points against the Wildcats. In a wide open Big Ten West, Nebraska may have missed its opportunity to play themselves into the race. Next up: Penn State (0-3); Saturday, Noon ET on FS1 9. Minnesota (1-2) Last week: 41-14 WIN at Illinois Well, Minnesota won a game. It was against lowly Illinois, but they are officially in the win column. After the first two weeks, it was clear everyone was too high on this Gopher team. It’s especially disappointing given the West's lack of any truly dominant teams this season. There’s no denying how talented this offense is. Running back Mohamed Ibrahim ran for 224 yards and four touchdowns. Star receiver Rashod Bateman caught 10 balls for 139 yards and a touchdown. This was the first time the defense stayed with the offense, holding Illinois to 14 points. Can they do that against the likes of Purdue or Wisconsin? That’s still to be determined. Next up: Iowa (1-2); Friday, 7 p.m. ET on FS1 8. Michigan (1-2) Last week: 21-38 LOSS at No. 13 Indiana Indiana exposed all the problems we thought Michigan had. They can’t defend in one-on-one matchups on the edge, they were bullied in the trenches and Joe Milton missed a lot of throws that could have changed the game. Milton isn’t the problem, though. The inability to change things up defensively and set the tone up front on both sides of the ball is keeping Michigan from taking the next step. The Wolverines didn’t look particularly interested in winning a football game on Saturday, and this may be it for Jim Harbaugh in Ann Arbor. Next up: No. 13 Wisconsin (1-0); Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC 7. Iowa (1-2) Last week: 49-7 WIN vs Michigan State Iowa looked like a Big Ten West champion against Michigan State. It seemed to rebound nicely after an incredibly disappointing loss to Northwestern the week prior. First-year starter Spencer Petras doesn’t look like a world-beater at QB, but he did what the Hawkeyes needed him to do. The 226 rushing yards are the real reason Iowa dominated this game. Iowa lost to two undefeated teams in tight games, so I don’t think they’re terrible. But because they have losses to Purdue and Northwestern, they’re likely playing to get to .500 and go to a bowl game. Next up: Minnesota (1-2); Friday, 7 p.m. ET on FS1 6. Maryland (2-1) Last week: 35-19 WIN at Penn State This may end up being too high for this Maryland team, but their recent performances warrant a No. 6 ranking. Maryland has certainly put its embarrassing week one loss against Northwestern behind it, with the offense clicking on all cylinders the past two weeks. Taulia Tagovailoa looked sharp against the Nittany Lions, finishing 18-for-26 with 282 yards and three touchdowns. The Terrapins have a solid run game to balance out the offense, too. The defense also tallied seven sacks on Sean Clifford. Maryland may not contend for anything by the end of the season, but they are no cakewalk like they were a year ago. I’m very interested to see how they fair against Ohio State. Next up: No. 3 Ohio State (3-0); Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET on BTN 5. Purdue (2-0) Last week: OFF What a strange top six teams. This is nothing against Purdue, but I didn’t think I would have them, or many of these top couple teams, this high. Iowa may not be very good, and we know Illinois isn’t great, so is Purdue for real? We will certainly get some answers Saturday, under the lights against a much-improved Northwestern team. If Purdue wins this game, they may become the favorites to win the West. Next up: No. 23 Northwestern (3-0); Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET on BTN 4. Northwestern (3-0) Last week: 21-13 WIN vs Nebraska There hasn’t been anything flashy the past two weeks for Northwestern, but they’ve both ended in wins. They’ve dug themselves into holes early but climbed out late. Peyton Ramsey is doing what he did at Indiana, and that’s exactly what Northwestern needed after last season’s debacle. Much like Purdue, we will find out a lot about the Wildcats this weekend in West Lafayette. Steal a road win and Northwestern may just be the favorites in the West. Next up: at Purdue (2-0); Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET on BTN 3. Wisconsin (1-0) Last week: OFF It’s hard to really know where Wisconsin belongs on this list. They’ll never get to play Purdue after that game was canceled. Their only win was against a bad Illinois team week one. And we don’t know who will be able to play and who won’t when they come back, whenever that is. Wisconsin cannot miss another game or else they will be ineligible for the Big Ten Championship game. With Northwestern and Purdue both playing really good football, Wisconsin better be ready to fight upon its return, if they’re able to return this week. Next up: at Michigan (1-2); Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC 2. Indiana (3-0) Last week: 38-21 WIN vs No. 23 Michigan Indiana is the second-best team in the Big Ten. There, I said it. They got lucky in week one, but they proved against Michigan that they are a real threat in the Big Ten. They dominated that game from start to finish, leading by 10+ points from early in the second quarter until the end of the game. Michael Penix was terrific, throwing for 342 yards and three scores, but Indiana cannot continue relying on him to throw the ball 50 times if they want to keep winning. Late in the game we saw more from Stevie Scott in the run game, finishing with 97 yards. Indiana will need to be more balanced if it wants to compete with Ohio State in a couple weeks. It also can’t afford to overlook Sparty this weekend in East Lansing. Next up: at Michigan State (1-2); Saturday, Noon ET on ABC 1. Ohio State (3-0) Last week: 49-27 WIN vs Rutgers Don’t let that score fool you, Ohio State was up 35-3 at halftime. If they could be higher than one spot ahead of the next Big Ten team, I would do it. There’s no one in the conference that can really compete with this team. Justin Fields is the best quarterback in the conference, the receiving core is supremely talented and the Buckeyes can run the ball on anyone. Here’s a sentence you probably thought you would never read. Indiana is the only remaining ranked team on Ohio State’s schedule. Next up: at Maryland (2-1); Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET on BTN
In order to be the best at something, you can’t ever be satisfied with where you are. Indiana women’s basketball is trying to be the best in the Big Ten and nationally, and in order to do that, they can’t be satisfied with where they are. In 2019, Indiana had arguably its best season in program history. The Hoosiers were in line for a top-four or five seed in the NCAA Tournament, they were ranked for almost the entirety of the season and knocked off then-No. 5 South Carolina. Now, they return almost every key player from last season's team and have even higher expectations for 2020-21 and beyond. Last season, Indiana ranked top-40 nationally in several offensive categories — 13th in field goal percentage, 33rd in free throw attempts and 37th in scoring offense (points per game). Despite the encouraging numbers, head coach Teri Moren knows there's more work to be done. Moren, during Indiana's media day Thursday, said the Hoosiers need to increase offensive production. There are three main areas they will look to do that. Three-point shooting One of Indiana's main deficiencies on offense last season was from the perimeter. None of the previously mentioned top-40 offensive categories included 3-point shooting for the Hoosiers. In fact, the team ranked outside the top 200 nationally in all perimeter shooting categories — 215th in 3-point percentage, 250th in 3-pointers made and 270th in 3-point makes per game. Without the long ball as a strong suit, though, Indiana still averaged more than 72 points per game last season. Ironically, this team can shoot really well from three — it just didn’t happen in 2019-20. Sixth-year guard Ali Patberg led the team from beyond the arc, shooting 38.6 percent, but no other player shot over 33 percent. Jaelynn Penn, Aleksa Gulbe and Grace Berger — who all started at least 30 games — shot 30 percent or less from the perimeter. “We’re always getting up a lot of shots,” Moren said. “That’s obviously an area we’re always working on, getting a lot of shots up from beyond the arc.” Moren stressed consistency with both Berger and Gulbe. They both can hit the three ball, but she wants them to be more consistent. She also hinted at an addition to sophomore forward Mackenzie Holmes’ game, adding her to the mix of potential 3-point contributors. In high school, Holmes worked on her 3-point shooting infrequently, only shooting them when the defense would give them to her. She said she shot threes in high school because, well, she could. In her freshman year at Indiana she didn’t attempt a single three, but that will likely change this season. When her layups weren't slipping off the backboard this offseason while training in her snowy driveway in Maine, Holmes was working on a more consistent 3-point shot. “One thing that COVID did do is give me a lot of time to expand my game,” Holmes said. “I had so much time in the day to work; just keep working on things I wouldn’t usually work on, and an outside shot was definitely up there on my list.” With a backcourt of Patberg, Berger, Penn — who has not been cleared to play yet after offseason foot surgery — and Danielle Patterson, plus bigs such as Holmes and Gulbe being able to step out and shoot the 3-pointer, Indiana's offense should see an increase in those paltry percentages from a season ago. The addition of Danielle Patterson Adding a McDonald's All-American always helps a team. That’s what Patterson was in 2017, as well as a Jordan Brand Classic All-American. She initially landed at Notre Dame, but after creating a relationship with Patberg during her short stint in South Bend, Patterson knew Indiana was the right option when she decided to transfer in 2019. There’s no denying the talent Indiana is adding to its roster with Patterson. The Brooklyn native averaged at least 17 points per game every season of her prep career. Her playing time was limited at Notre Dame, averaging only 11 minutes per game, but she should blossom with Indiana. Patterson's new teammates and Moren had nothing but praise for Patterson during media day. “She’s a bucket filler,” Moren said. “With Danielle, Ali and Grace, that’s a big lineup.” “She’s an awesome person,” Patberg said. “She’s going to be a great addition to our team because she is big, she can score, she can shoot the three, she can post up, she’s long, she’s athletic, she knows the game pretty well, and also she was in two years of college.” The hurdle for Patterson is an injury that she's been rehabbing from the past year or so. Fortunately, she was cleared on Aug. 28 and said she's been ramping things up and getting more comfortable with the team and her own game. Patberg, who also transferred from Notre Dame and went through extensive injury rehab, said she has played a huge role in getting Patterson comfortable in the offense and keeping her spirits high. Patberg was Patterson’s host when she visited Notre Dame, and they’ve kept in touch ever since. “Our relationship is really great,” Patterson said, “and I’m so excited to play with her and have her as my point guard.” With Penn’s rehab still ongoing from her offseason surgery, Patterson’s role could be bigger and even more important than it already was. If she can provide some of that scoring she had in high school, Indiana's depth could be among the best in the nation. Ali Patberg has to be more selfish Patberg isn’t wired to shoot, shoot, shoot. She’s a pass-first player. A true point guard. Patberg said that’s how she’s played her entire life. But Moren wants Patberg to be more of a scorer. “Ali has to score. Ali has to be more selfish,” Moren said. “Ali, I think, and we believe as a staff, can go get a bucket anytime she wants. It’s just her mindset has to shift.” Last season, Patberg averaged more than 15 points and five assists per game, shot 49 percent from the field and nearly 39 percent from the perimeter. In order for the Hoosiers to become a national contender though, they need Patberg to play selfishly. Moren admits Patberg will always be an unselfish player, but she needs her to attempt to score the ball at a higher level than she did a year ago. She said that if Patberg can do that, it will not only make her better, but it will open things up for her teammates on the perimeter. It's something Patberg didn’t shy away from when asked. She understands what added scoring can do for her game — not only at Indiana but at the next level. “I think if I’m more selfish and looking for my shot, it actually opens up better looks for passes,” Patberg said. “I’m going to do whatever coach wants me to, whatever my team wants me to do, to be at our best.” Since Moren arrived in Bloomington, the Hoosiers have been an offense-oriented team. Whether they've been led by Tyra Buss, Alexis Gassion, Amanda Cahill, Ali Patberg, Grace Berger, or whoever else, it's clear Moren likes to run the floor and score the ball. And last season, Indiana scored the ball efficiently, shot the ball well and got to the free-throw line a lot. But if the program is going to take the next step toward becoming a national contender, Moren knows the 3-pointer has to come around. And with the addition of Holmes’ shot, Patterson’s presence and Patberg’s selfishness, it just might happen this season. A good program is never satisfied. It’s always looking for areas to get better. Indiana is arguably coming off of its best season in program history, but they’re nowhere near satisfied yet. That’s the mark of a great program, and it’s time we realize that’s what Indiana women’s basketball is.
[embed]https://soundcloud.com/user-303673382/indiana-mens-basketball-podcast-52220-catching-up[/embed] Austin Render and Jackson Yeary are back to talk all things IUBB offseason. - Khristian Lander reclassifies - Trayce Jackson-Davis returns for sophomore season - Damezi Anderson transfers - next year's potential schedule That and much more on the latest Indiana Men's Basketball Podcast presented by The Hoosier Network.
Brian Anderson was ready. It was Thursday, March 11th, and he was still planning to broadcast the first two games of the Big Ten Tournament for Big Ten Network. The twist: it would be without fans. He had broadcasted an NBA game in San Antonio two days prior and was aware of the new social distancing protocols for players and coaches. He flew to Indianapolis still expecting to call the games. Early that morning, Anderson walked into Bankers Life Fieldhouse, which had an eerie feeling to it. An arena that can hold 20,000 people would hold maybe a couple hundred of close team personnel and family. He and BTN’s sideline reporter, Andy Katz, were both wondering why they were playing games at all. The night before, the NBA had canceled its season after Rudy Gobert, a forward for the Utah Jazz, tested positive for COVID-19. “I was stunned that we were going to play,” Anderson remembers. “But at the same time, I have a job to do and I’m representing Big Ten Network, so I prepared as if I was going to do a game.” The only difference in how the game was prepped for was technical. Where would BTN put its microphones? How would they handle profanity? Anderson’s biggest concern was free throw shooting. If there is a limited amount of people in the stands, would the players hear the broadcasters sitting courtside while they’re trying to shoot free throws? Would the broadcasters accidentally get in the players’ heads? Anderson and BTN had discussed broadcasting from higher up in the arena, or even back in the studio in Chicago. After some pregame tests to see what they could and couldn’t hear from the court, they stayed courtside. Anderson moved on with his normal pregame routine, with Michigan and Rutgers set to tip at noon. The players came out to warmup. The BTN crew, Anderson included, interviewed both Steve Pikiell, Rutgers’s head coach, and Juwan Howard, Michigan’s head coach. During Anderson’s interview with Howard, the head coach shared concerns he and his players had for brushing up against others and the possibility of having the virus present. They were also worried about a quarantine, similar to what happened with the Jazz the night before, their teams forced to spend hours in their locker room before being tested and cleared to leave late in the night. “Basketball seemed so secondary at that point,” Anderson said of that moment. Even with all of these concerns – from Anderson, Katz and Howard – the game was still on. BTN started its pregame show at 11:30 a.m. Katz was prepared to go for a sideline hit shortly after. Anderson had his headset on and his spotting boards in front of him. He was ready. Then the news hit. Anderson found out not from a Big Ten representative, not from the conference commissioner, but from a referee. Bo Boroski, one of the officials scheduled to call the first game, walked over to Anderson about 15 minutes before the scheduled tip. “That’s it,” he said. “We’re banged. We’re canceled.” *** “It’s kind of like that 9-11 moment,” Ted Emrich, a broadcaster for ESPN and Westwood One, said. The news rippled through the broadcasting community, and suddenly, one of the busiest sports months of the year went silent. Emrich was at home with his family in Dallas when he heard the news. Mike Couzens, a play-by-play announcer for ESPN, was picking up sticks in his yard after a windstorm the night before. Jeremiah Johnson, the sideline reporter for the Pacers on Fox Sports Indiana, was at his son’s middle school band concert. John Nolan, play-by-play broadcaster for the Fort Wayne Tincaps, was in his office. Jon Crispin, a college basketball analyst for ESPN, was in studio. Everyone remembers what they were doing and where they were when the sports world stopped. “The word surreal is thrown around far too often,” Emrich said. “That word fits this situation. That is the apt description for what we have here. It’s like you’re in an alternate reality.” All week, the sports world was preparing for the most exciting time of the year. It was Championship Week for college basketball. The NCAA Tournament was up next. The Masters and the NBA playoffs were on the horizon. In a span of 24 hours, there was nothing left. “It went from fifth gear to park really quickly,” Crispin said. The men’s NCAA Tournament was set to start March 17. MLB’s opening day was scheduled for March 26. The Masters was set for April 9-12. The NBA playoffs would begin in mid-April. “It’s one of the busiest times of the year for me,” Emrich said. He would normally be calling a few tournament games, some high school basketball, then The Masters. “It’s my busiest time of the year, for sure,” Anderson echoed. He would be calling the tournament games, MLB for the Milwaukee Brewers, then the NBA Playoffs. Anderson estimates that March and April normally feature 50-60 broadcasts, about a third of his yearly count. Same for Crispin, who would have been calling NCAA Tournament games for Westwood One along with studio shows for ESPN. “It was almost like there was no closure,” Crispin said. “It’s like getting broken up with in a multiple-year relationship over Facebook.” With no games to play, there were no games to call. Thousands of play-by-play announcers were silenced. *** So what’s next? Broadcasters are now landscapers, carpenters, runners, fathers and husbands. Emrich is normally gone for a 13-day stretch from April 1-13, but instead, he enjoyed dinner at home every night with his family. He and his three-year-old daughter got creative, building magnetic towers and structures. It took him about a week to collect himself, but he’s focused on enjoying time with his daughter that he wouldn’t have had otherwise. He’s also trying to help others. He sent out a tweet on March 13, explaining how he wanted to help young, aspiring broadcasters during this time. He asked people to send him their demos for him to listen to and give critiques. Crispin has taken this time to be away from sports. He grew out a beard, walked his dog and redid his entire backyard. “I’m like a landscaper now,” Crispin said. His wife is due any day now with their first child, so he has taken it upon himself to be the unofficial house chef. He has made filet mignon tacos, fish tacos, breakfast casseroles, and more. “I’m gonna disconnect, I’m gonna be home, I’m gonna be present, I’m gonna be the husband and future father of the year,” he said. Couzens has said yes to every podcast or interview request that has come his way. He’s also realizing there’s more to life than sports. He has started to read books he thought he’d never get to. He’s also taking free online courses through the Ivy League. His class of choice: world religion. He says he’s never been bored during the pandemic, which he sees as a good thing. “When sports are gone, what do we have that makes our life fulfilling?” Couzens asked himself. Johnson was the only one in his family without a bike, so he bought one and joined the family on long bike rides. His wife doubted him, but he and the family rode 11 miles. He rewarded himself and the family with ice cream. “We went through a Dairy Queen drive thru on our bikes,” Johnson said. “I guess that’s pretty quarantine-esque.” He says his wife still has more things for him to do around the house. He went through his closet and cleaned out his clothes and gave them to Goodwill, something he never thought he would have the time to do in March. He’s also planning to clean the basement, an item on his to-do list for the past couple years. Nolan is running outdoors, something he has done consistently in a long time. He’s also using home videos and turning them into play-by-play calls of late-second magic on Twitter. Anderson has found a way to give back. He doubles as the Milwaukee Brewers’ play-by-play voice, and got the word that a young Brewers fan was about to turn 11 years old. Typically, he would celebrate with a trip to a Brewers game. That wouldn’t happen this spring, so Anderson decided to help him out. He put on his sport coat and tie and recorded a broadcast around a home video the mom sent in of the young fan and his brother playing pick-up basketball. Anderson included an open, play-by-play, and then a closing video, all from the sound studio he built himself in his basement during the quarantine. “I’ve really tried to serve where I can,” Anderson said. “Instead of getting selfish and feeling bored and upset and frustrated about not doing games and my job, I’ve just tried to replace that with some service.” Broadcasters are rediscovering there are many other important things in life besides sports. Couzens lives by a saying he heard in college from a local radio host in Syracuse, NY. “Love your life, like your sports.” *** Sports will be back. So will all these broadcasters. Emrich stressed to those who are struggling through this time of no sports, it’s only temporary. We have to lean on each other. Everyone is trying to do their part. Not everyone can help firsthand in hospitals or nursing homes. For broadcasters, they are just trying to do what the rest of us are doing, spend quality time with the family. When this is over, they’ll be ready to return to work, and when that day comes, they’ll do what they do best. “We’re going to be back,” Emrich said, “and I can’t wait to get back in that booth to play my small role in it.”
Everybody has that game. That big shot, that unconscious shooting performance, that moment that defines a career or a season. For a team that was 11 players deep, there were plenty of those “season defining” moments for each player on the floor. Whether that was against North Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan State or others, everyone had that moment. As we all sit around and wish there were basketball to watch, let’s relive the best moments of the Indiana basketball season with every player's best moment from the 2019-20 campaign.
[embed]https://soundcloud.com/user-303673382/indiana-mens-basketball-podcast-32820-a-special-high-school-basketball-edition[/embed] Austin Render, Jackson Yeary and Sam Neidermann come together for a special edition of the Indiana Men's Basketball Podcast to talk about high school basketball! Growing up in the state of Indiana, basketball is everything, and there is so much talent in this state. The guys reminisce on their high school days and the best men's basketball players they saw with their own eyes.
Indiana’s men’s and women’s basketball teams were both on their way to the NCAA Tournament. The men’s team was trying to sneak in as a 10 or 11 seed, while the women’s team was in the hunt for a 4 seed and a chance to host the first two rounds. Then, all of sudden, neither made the tournament. No one made the 2020 NCAA Tournament. Every team projected to make the tournament could formulate a “team of destiny” plan that projects themselves making a long run in March. Teams like Wisconsin, who won its last eight games to earn a share of the Big Ten regular season championship, or Michigan State, who also earned a share of the Big Ten title and was arguably playing its best basketball of the season. For the first time since 1987, the IU men’s team won its last game of the season. No, it wasn’t a national championship, but you could talk Indiana fans into believing it was a momentous win, preparing them for an upset over Penn State in the next round of the Big Ten Tournament. The women’s team lost to Maryland, but Ali Patberg scored 20 or more points in five straight before being held to 16 against Maryland. It could be painful, it could be sad, but it could also provide some closure for Indiana fans, so it’s time to play the “what if” game for both the men’s and the women’s teams. Men’s Basketball After a win over Nebraska on Wednesday of the Big Ten Tournament, Indiana fans were starting to believe a run was ahead of the Hoosiers with a favorable draw in the seeding. Next up was Penn State, a team Indiana dominated at home when the Nittany Lions were a top-10 team in the country. Indiana played Penn State and Iowa similarly in the two home games. Both Penn State and Iowa have an ultra-talented forward: Lamar Stevens and Luka Garza, respectively. Indiana decided to let those players score their 20-30 points but limit the role players around them. Garza finished with 38 points, but Iowa only had one other player in double figures. The rest of the team scored just 39 points. Stevens scored 29 points, but the rest of the team scored just 31, led by Myles Dread with 10. No one else cracked double figures. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/user-303673382/indiana-mens-basketball-podcast-32320-the-end-of-a-bizarre-season[/embed] That’s all the evidence I need to say Indiana was on its way to another win over a Penn State team that lost five of six coming into the tournament. Indiana looked like the better team in Bloomington and the second half against Nebraska seemed like a momentum booster for the Hoosiers. Stevens goes for 25 points, but Indiana holds the Nittany Lions under 30 percent from three, and Jackson-Davis has a good day inside, with 15 points and eight rebounds. Result: No. 11 Indiana 72, No. 6 Penn State 66 Based on Indiana’s previous Big Ten Tournament performances, IU would likely lose on Friday to Maryland. This team has had trouble building momentum over the course of several games all season. The last three-game win streak for Indiana was in December, with wins over UConn, Nebraska and Notre Dame, none of which are going to be in the NCAA Tournament. Jalen Smith and Anthony Cowan combine for 50 points and Indiana has no answer for a hot 3-point shooting Maryland team in the quarterfinals. Result: No. 3 Maryland 78, No. 11 Indiana 64 Speaking of the Big Dance, Indiana was projected as an 11 seed in Joe Lunardi’s latest episode of Sesame Street. Lunardi had Indiana playing at 12:40 p.m. on Thursday against 6-seeded BYU. Because I’m not a bracketologist and don’t really want to even try, we will go off of his projections for this exercise. BYU had one of its best seasons in program history. The Cougars finished the conference tournament ranked 18th in the AP poll with a 24-8 record. They had a 14-1 record at home, with a combined 10-7 record on the road and neutral sites. Their best win was at home against Gonzaga, but their best win away from home was either at Utah State or in Hawaii against UCLA. It’s possible they are a “just happy to be here” team that Indiana can catch off guard. BYU’s strengths are on offense, specifically behind the 3-point line. The Cougars shot 42 percent in the regular season from beyond the arc, 44.5 percent in conference play. But it is still possible to beat BYU when they’re shooting well from three, because they don’t have a big inside presence. San Francisco beat BYU, 83-82, when BYU was 15-of-27 from long range. The Dons knocked down 13 threes of their own. So simply put, the Hoosiers can beat BYU if they hit some timely threes and rely on their size down low. That’s why Indiana knocks off BYU in the first round, with Trayce Jackson-Davis dominating the points in the paint, scoring 19 points and adding 11 rebounds, and Devonte Green hitting timely threes. No. 11 Indiana 77, No. 6 BYU 71 The Twitter account, 2020 NCAA Tournament Simulation, tweeted that Indiana knocked off BYU in their simulation, 81-79, in overtime, led by Green’s 23 points. Next up, the No. 3 seed Seton Hall Pirates. Obviously, it all revolves around First Team All-American Myles Powell. The Pirates finished 21-9 and earned a share of the regular season Big East title. Powell averaged 21 points per game. Seton Hall is much more than just Powell. In a few games that he missed due to injury, guys like Sandro Mamukelashvili and Quincy McKnight stepped up. Both ended up averaging 11.9 points per game. Indiana would likely attack Seton Hall the same way it did Iowa and Penn State; let Powell run free (to an extent) and limit the role players. Indiana would quickly find out Powell is a different type of playmaker. He would get hot quickly and Indiana would be in trouble. Indiana has not played well when behind early, and that would be the case in this one. The game plan all year against ball screens has been to hedge with the big man. That backfires in this game, with Powell and Mamukelashvili running a pretty two-man game. Even though the simulation had Indiana winning and advancing to the Sweet 16, I don’t see it against a team as talented as Seton Hall. Indiana’s season ends on the first Saturday of the NCAA Tournament. Result: No. 3 Seton Hall 81, No. 11 Indiana 69 Women’s Basketball The women’s team didn’t have any question marks from the Big Ten Tournament. IU knocked off Rutgers on Friday but were dominated by Maryland on Saturday for the third time this season. Ali Patberg has caught fire of late. She averaged over 17 points per game in Big Ten play, along with Grace Berger, Jaelynn Penn and Mackenzie Holmes, who all averaged double figures in conference games. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/user-303673382/indiana-womens-basketball-podcast-32320-an-unfortunate-ending[/embed] According to ESPN’s women’s basketball bracketologist, Charlie Creme, Indiana was looking at a No. 5 seed, off to the Spokane region with No. 4 seed Gonzaga. Indiana would match up with Troy in the first round. Because of the positive momentum Indiana would bring into the tournament (winner of six of its last eight), Indiana would make easy work of Troy. Patberg would have her typical day, and possibly threaten for a triple double. Brenna Wise doesn’t appear in the stat sheet too much, but the senior’s leadership helps Indiana set a tone early. Penn’s ankle is still a slight concern after tweaking it in Indy two weeks prior, so her minutes are limited. Holmes and Gulbe both score in double figures. Result: No. 5 Indiana 78, No. 12 Troy 55 Going out west for the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament isn’t new for Indiana. Last season they played in the Eugene region, winning in round one over Texas and falling to Oregon in the second round. This year, they are a much better team and have a more evenly matched game with No. 4 Gonzaga. Indiana finished No. 20 in the AP poll, while Gonzaga checked in at No. 13. The Bulldogs finished an impressive 28-3, 17-1 in the WCC, but were stunned in the conference tournament by Portland in the semifinals. Their only other losses were at Saint Mary’s and Stanford. Gonzaga presents a balanced attack, with three players averaging double digit points per game and three others with at least seven. The team as a whole averages 68 a game and holds opponents to 51.9 points per game. Indiana is no stranger to low scoring, ugly, grind-it-out ball games. Eight of Indiana’s program-record 24 wins came when scoring fewer than 70 points. Indiana held opponents to 59.4 points per game this season. Beyond all the stats and percentages, Indiana is playing for its first Sweet 16 in school history. That means something. Gonzaga is a perennial women’s basketball powerhouse out west, but for Indiana, this was a special season. A program record in total wins, conference wins, and highest AP ranking. Patberg and Wise refuse to let the team lose. Patberg grinds out 20 points, with 10 coming at the free-throw line. Wise takes two big charges, and they get enough from Berger and Holmes down the stretch to win a low-scoring dog fight. The emotion carries Indiana to the Sweet 16. Result: No. 5 Indiana 61, No. 4 Gonzaga 56 This win would give Indiana its first Sweet 16 appearance in school history. It would also match them up with the No. 1 seed in the West, the Oregon Ducks. Indiana would stay on the west coast, this time in Portland, Oregon. Indiana went toe-to-toe with Oregon in the second round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, ultimately bowing out in the fourth quarter. That was an important lesson for Indiana on what it takes to beat a team like Oregon. That won’t do them any good this time around though. Sabrina Ionescu is on a college-basketball retirement tour of sorts, and she’s not going to lose in the Sweet 16 just miles from Eugene. Ionescu records a triple double (I know, it’s the norm at this point) and helps Oregon pull away from a tough Hoosier team. Patberg scores 17 and Berger adds 10, but they can’t get any production underneath, and eventually the Ducks prove too much. Result: No. 1 Oregon 81, No. 5 Indiana 65 Final reflections These two seasons were important for different reasons. For the men, they made the tournament for the first time under Archie Miller and were able to win multiple games in the Big Ten Tournament and one in the NCAA Tournament, giving them a foundation to build on for next year. A young team that returns a lot of people for next season got valuable experience in the tournament. The women were able to accomplish something never done before, reaching the Sweet 16. They set program records everywhere and will only lose one player to graduation. Unfortunately, none of this actually happened. It’s fascinating to think about, which is why I’m 1,700 words in on a “what-if” story. There are arguments to be made that both teams could have been eliminated early, but what if they got hot and won a game or two? What if Devonte Green and/or Ali Patberg put their teams on their back? We’ll never know, but it sure is fun to think about. Here’s what we do know. The men’s team returns all five starters and adds some talented freshmen, including five-star point guard Khristian Lander, who will most likely reclassify to join the 2020 class. The women’s team loses one player to graduation and adds Danielle Patterson, a transfer from Notre Dame who sat out this past season due to transfer rules. We don’t know what would have happened if these teams got to play in March, and that’s disappointing for so many reasons. For Brenna Wise, De’Ron Davis and Devonte Green, their careers ended abruptly. But what we do know is that both teams will be back next year, ready to take the next step they would have taken this March. Here’s to 2021.