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What's The Big Deal? - The Gnomes Appreciate Big Ten Basketball

After an extended holiday hiatus, the gnomes return to mock the rest of the B1G.

The Big Ten season is here, which is good because the gnomes did not like having to learn the names and correct spellings of the myriad non-conference teams that appear as if by magic every December. The gnomes would also like to introduce everyone to the newest member of their snark posse, Action Gopher Gnome. He is excited to join Funny Hat Gopher Gnome and the Gopher Gnome Bench in mocking recapping the games for the rest of the B1G.

Illinois: 14-2, AP: #12, Coaches: #13, RPI: #11, KenPom: #33

Last Week: Lost @ Purdue 68-61 and destroyed then #8 Ohio State 74-55 @ home. It was an odd week for Illinois, as they followed up a frustrating and somewhat unexpected defeat on the road at Purdue with a completely dominating effort against Ohio State. The win brought Illini fans from frustrated to happy quite quickly. For examples, see The Champaign Room:

I think I can sum up today's game pretty simply with just WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. I mean, that came out of fucking no where.

I know I wasn't exactly Mr. Sunshine following the Purdue loss, but even I thought it was possible the Illini could knock off Ohio State today. I mean, it was a Big Ten home game. However, what I did not think was possible was that the Illini would jump out to a big lead from the start and just keep expanding on it all day.


A big change from a post after the Purdue loss which included the following quote:

We can't rebound. We're not very good defensively, particularly on the interior. We have a very tough time winning when Brandon Paul isn't playing well. We don't respond to adversity all that well.

As a result, the gnomes would like to award Illinois the "B1G Two Face" award for bi-polar fan mood.

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This Week: Tonight @ home against Minnesota; 7pm on BTN. On Saturday the Fighting Illini travel to Madison to face UW; 1:15pm on BTN.

Indiana: 14-1, AP: #5, Coaches: #5, RPI: #11, KenPom: #2

Last Week: Dominated Penn State 74-51 @ State College on Monday. Checking in with The Crimson Quarry reveals that the game went exactly as you'd expect. What you might not expect?

Credit Jeff Rabjohns with the observation that this is IU's first Big Ten road win by more than 20 points since a 20-point win at Michigan in 2002.

They really did fall into a hole for a while there didn't they?

Up next? Hosting the Gophers @ Assembly Hall on Saturday; 11am on BTN.

Iowa: 11-4, RPI: #71, KenPom: #49

Last Week: Depantsed by #2 Michigan, 95-67. Um, ouch. Just ouch. Looking at the score, you'd think that Michigan blew the doors off early. But Black Heart Gold Pants reveals that this wasn't the case:

Yet the Hawkeyes were hanging with Michigan, trading shots with the Wolverines for more than three minutes. With 3:15 left in the first half, Anthony Clemmons fouled Trey Burke on a shot attempt with the score tied 29-29. It was Clemmons' second foul, sending him to the bench for the remainder of the half. Three minutes earlier, Mike Gessel had also committed his second foul, so the Clemmons violation took away Iowa's two primary ballhandlers and left the team in the hands of Roy Marble.

Iowa traded a couple more hoops with Michigan before the lack of a point guard took hold and the levy broke. In the last minute of the half, Iowa stopped looking inside and took a trio of three-point shots, missing them all. Michigan hit two layups, drew two fouls, and made four free throws. Michigan extended their lead from three to eleven, and the balloon was popped. Michigan outscored Iowa 36-15 over the first 15 minutes of the second half and coasted to a 95-67 victory.

Oof. I'm going to guess that Franzilla was not happy. I award this performance 4 of a possible 5 chairs on the Angry Fran Chair Scale (a recap of the scale can be found here).

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Up next? Michigan State plays @ Carver Hawkeye tomorrow night; 5pm on ESPN2. Then on Sunday, Iowa heads to Evanston to face Northwestern; 3:30pm on ESPNU.

Michigan: 15-0, AP: #2, Coaches: #2, RPI: #3, KenPom: #6

Last Week: Acted like the bad-ass #2 team that they are and smoked both Northwestern (94-66) and Iowa (95-67) on the road. What can you really say to wins like that Maize n Brew?

At some point we're going to run out of superlatives.

Yep, they're enjoying themselves (not that I blame them).

Up next? They finally get a B1G home game tonight against Nebraska; 6pm on BTN. On Sunday, they travel to "Ohio" to face the #15 Buckeyes; 12:30pm on CBS.

Michigan State: 12-3, AP: #22, Coaches: #18, RPI: #19, KenPom: #16

Last Week: Beat Purdue @ home 84-61. After losing to the Gophers, Michigan State rebounded and defended their home court. The Only Colors seemed pleased with the rebound from a loss:

All told, an encouraging performance after a disappointing loss in Minnesota. This was the first of four games the Spartans really need to have to stay in shouting distance of the conference leaders. Next up is the toughest of the four, a road game at Iowa, where Indiana just had a bit of a scare in escaping with a 4-point win.

The gnomes apologize again for missing last week's post, as it meant they couldn't recap the Gophers/MSU game. As an apology gift to you, they'd like to share what they would have said to all conspiracy minded Spartan fans.

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Up next? The Spartans travel to Iowa City tomorrow; 5pm on ESPN2. On Sunday they host Nebraska; 5pm on BTN.

Nebraska: 9-6, RPI: #60, KenPom: #185

Last Week: Lost @ then #8 Ohio state by 26 and then lost to Wisconsin @ home in a peach basket thriller, 47-41. That last game had no alibi. Corn Nation avoids talking moral victories:

I am not a believer in "moral victories" and they don't count in the standings so coming close to a big victory isn't good enough in this case for the Huskers. This is a game that was very much there for the taking and if Miles' team wants to get 5 or so conference victories this season, they needed this one.

Up next? The Huskers are on the road tonight against Michigan; 6pm on BTN. They complete the "Mitten Roadtrip" on Sunday against Michigan State; 5pm on BTN.

Northwestern: 9-6, RPI: #94, KenPom: #99

Last Week: Got shot out of the gym in the 2nd half against Michigan (94-66) and had the same thing happen 3 nights later in The Barn in a 69-51 Minnesota victory. Not a lot to be said, but Sippin' on Purple gives it a shot:

In running the "Burn" offense, you're trying to control tempo. We achieved that in the first half, as Minnesota was gummed up. However, with so few possessions, you have to be damn near perfect on offense - we still left a bunch of points out there on missed layups, FTs and open 3s.

Up next? On the road in State College tomorrow night; 7pm on ESPNU. On Sunday Iowa visits Welsh-Ryan; 4:30pm on ESPNU.

Ohio State: 12-3, AP: #15, Coaches: #14, RPI: #35, KenPom: #11

Last Week: Embarrassed by Illinois (74-55) and beat Purdue (74-64), both on the road. Land Grant Holy Land was pleased to see Ohio State bounce back after a horrible loss to an Illinois team that isn't (on paper) a ton better than the Buckeyes:

Deshaun Thomas returned to his free shooting ways – and the results were good. Behind 22 from the Buckeyes' natural scorer and arguably senior big man Evan Ravenel's best game of the year, Thad Matta and the Ohio State Buckeyes bounced back to defeat Purdue, 74-64. Ohio State earned their first true road victory of the season, and given how they looked in their previous contest, it couldn't have come at a better time.

Up next? Big game against their biggest rival @ home on Sunday; 12:30pm on CBS.

Penn State: 8-6, RPI: #121, KenPom: #171

Last Week: Lost a close one on the road against Wisconsin (60-51) and got demolished by Indiana (74-51) @ home. The Wisconsin loss was a tough beat, but Black Shoe Diaries remained upbeat:

How would their squad perform in a foreign environment against a team that holds a .908 home winning percentage?

They responded with the emphatic grit we grew accustomed to with last year's team that faced similar struggles. The Lions faced plenty of adversity in the Kohl Center, playing from behind for the entire second half, but they never stopped giving their never-say-die effort. The 18-point underdogs were able to close the gap to just 1 point with a little over 3 minutes left before ultimately falling short.

Normally this would get a WIN! FIGHT! TRY! Award, but that's a football thing. If anyone has some suggestions for a B1G basketball equivalent the gnomes are all ears.

Up next? Host Northwestern tomorrow night; 7pm on ESPNU. On Sunday the Nitany Lions play @ Purdue; 11am on BTN.

Purdue: 7-8, RPI: #133, KenPom: #85

Last Week: Opened with a bad loss (84-61) on the road in East Lansing and followed it up with a closer loss (74-64) @ Mackey Arena to Ohio State last night. Hammer & Rails knows they could have used the OSU win, but is happy with how the team is playing:

This was a winnable game. It was a disappointing loss, but Purdue is showing that we can hang with the top teams in the Big Ten when we are at home. The fan-base at Mackey looks recharged and extremely excited for this team even though the start to our season wasn't ideal, least to say. I believe that we have another upset left in us at home, but it won't be easy. Purdue is fighting as hard as ever and has completely changed its identity as a team. Painter has these guys going in the right direction.

They might be the toughest 7-8 team out there right now.

Up next? Penn State comes to West Lafayette on Sunday; 11am on BTN.

Wisconsin: 11-4, RPI: #78, KenPom: #17

Last Week: Barely beat PSU @ home (60-51) and then put up a...well, it was a bad offensive game...against Nebraska on the road, winning 47-41 on Sunday. That is, if anyone wins in a 47-41 game. Bucky's 5th Quarter put a positive spin on the offensive anemia displayed by the Badgers:

As squeaked-out Wisconsin victories go, this one was squeaked out by the slimmest of margins. Despite struggling to connect on jumpers and finish around the hoop for the great majority of the game, the Badgers escaped the Devaney Center with a 47-41 win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Also of note was Bo the Badger's cranky response to the obvious point that his team sucked on offense:

The game, naturally, made Bo Ryan saltier than ever. In his post-game interview with BTN's Tim Doyle, Ryan winced when Doyle said the win "wasn't pretty" and responded only half-jokingly, "I hope people remember the way you used to play."

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Up next? Illinois @ home on Saturday; 1:15pm on BTN. On Tuesday they travel to Indiana; 8pm on ESPN.