College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, December 31, 2009
Don't think twice about the Wisconsin Badgers reaching the top of the Big Ten and doing some serious damage in March - this team can play with anybody, and, usually, beat them.
The Badgers opened Big Ten play hosting Ohio State on the last day of 2009, and left the Buckeyes feeling like they'd rather leave memories of that year behind them. Wisconsin, playing tenacious defense and turning take-aways into points, built and early lead and pulled away late for the lopsided 65-43 win. By holding Ohio State to their worst shooting performance of the season, 14-of-43 (33%), Wisconsin established themselves as one of the top defensive teams in the conference, maybe the country.
Trevon Hughes led the scoring with 16 points, hitting 5 of 10 shots overall, but making 3 of 5 from 3-point range. The Badgers shot 10-for-21 from beyond the arc. Hughes, a 6-foot senior guard, also snatched 7 rebounds, a category in which the Badgers beat the Buckeyes, 34-25.
Wisconsin improved to 11-2, their losses coming on the road at Gonzaga and an 88-84 overtime loss at Wisconsin-Green Bay. However, the Badgers can look to quality wins over Arizona, Duke, Marquette, and now, Ohio State, for positive reinforcement that they are one of the best in the nation.
Ranked #23 coming into the Ohio State game, the Badgers are likely to move up in the polls, though they face a tough stretch with four tough games just ahead: at Penn St. January 3, at Michigan St. Jan. 6, Purdue Jan. 9, at Northwestern Jan 13.
College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, January 1, 2010
...And then there were five.
The Purdue Boilermakers knocked West Virginia out of the ranks of the undefeated, opening the new year with a 77-62 thumping of the Mountaineers, leaving the 13-0 Boilermakers - along with Kansas, Texas, Kentucky and Syracuse - as the only unbeaten teams in Division 1.
Led by 6'10" center JaJuan Johnson's 25 points and 10 rebounds, the Boilermakers expanded a 5-point half time lead to as many as 26 in the second frame, turning a Top 10 showdown into a one-sided blowout. Johnson's season-high point tally came on 8-for-14 shooting, mostly on dunks and shots from inside the paint, and a 9-for-11 performance on the free throw line.
Purdue is tied with four other teams at 1-0 in the Big Ten after having beaten Iowa, 67-56, on Tuesday, to open conference play. They were ranked #4 coming in, with West Virginia #6. The Mountaineers will surely drop a few spots in the polls, but Purdue should stay put behind Kansas, Texas and Kentucky.