2016-17 BIG Ten Preview

Posted on November 7, 2016. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

BIG TEN Basketball Preview…

November 7, 2016

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We are predicting that the Big Ten will experience a “changing of the guard” in 2016-17.

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The crispness of the fall air, the time change (fall back), and the squeak of basketball sneakers in gymnasiums across the country can only mean ONE thing – basketball is back! And the official start for the march to March Madness has started.

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Here’s our look at the Big Ten:

As of right now, Wisconsin seems to have the greatest advantage. The Badgers return every key player from a team that regrouped under new coach Greg Gard to go 12–6 in Big Ten play. Meanwhile, teams like Michigan State, Indiana and Purdue will look for role players and secondary scorers to take the next step.

1. Wisconsin

Five starters return, including Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig — key players with Final Four experience.

 

2. MichiganState

Tom Izzo has rarely relied on freshmen, but he will do so this season with Miles Bridges and Joshua Langford heading his best recruiting class.

3. indianabb-logo

If Pitt transfer Josh Newkirk delivers at point guard and OG Anunoby takes the next step, the Hoosiers could win the Big Ten title again.

4. purduebb-logo

Getting Vince Edwards and Caleb Swanigan to return was critical, but Matt Painter’s team won’t contend unless it finds a high-caliber point guard.

5. Michigan

Keeping Derrick Walton healthy for the entire season is critical for the Wolverines, who have a nice first five but little experienced depth.

6. marylandbb-logo

Melo Trimble is back for his third tour at Maryland. He will have to play like the league’s best point guard as the Terps try to replace four starters.

7. OhioState

Transfers wiped out most of Thad Matta’s sophomore class, so depth and the maturity of point guard JaQuan Lyle are the primary issues.

8. pennstate-bb

With the addition of Pat Chambers’ best freshman class, the Nittany Lions will be able to win with talent as well as grit.

9. Iowa
The loss of four starters plus memories of the Hawkeyes’ struggles down the stretch last season make Iowa the Big Ten’s biggest mystery.

10. northwesternbb

Chris Collins has upgraded the talent every year, and he has the point guard (Bryant McIntosh) to compete.

11. illinois-bball

Losing 19 games and facing a string of off-the-court issues have Illini fans wondering if John Groce can regain momentum.

12. minnesotabb
Richard Pitino has failed to make the NCAA Tournament for three seasons and needs to impress a new athletic director.

13. nebraska2

Losing Andrew White in late June was major setback that coach Tim Miles did not expect.

14. rutgersbb

The Scarlet Knights have hit the reset button — again. It’s Steve Pikiell’s turn.  Big Ten Superlatives

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Player of the Year: Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin

Best Defensive Player: Ethan Happ, Wisconsin

Most Underrated Player: Jae’Sean Tate, Ohio State

Top Newcomer: Miles Bridges, Michigan State

 

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2012 Illinois vs Auburn

Posted on December 29, 2012. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Fighting Illini defeat SEC’s Auburn Tigers…..

December 29, 2012

FINAL: Illinois 81, Auburn 79.

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The 12th-ranked Illinois team gets back on track snagging a victory today against SEC’s Auburn Tigers at the world-famous United Center.

Sophomore Tracy Abrams leads all players with 27 and 8 rebounds. What a difference a year makes? In last years’ contest here at the United Center, he didn’t have any points but this year, he’s hot 4-7 from the floor, 2-3 from behind the arc, and perfect at the charity stripe 6-6.

“I was pushing the ball more than I did in any other game of the season,” Abrams said. “We’ve been pushing the ball lately in practice. I wanted to start the game like that.”

His teammate, Brandon Paul added 13 to seal the deal.

“We have a lot more weapons and a lot more confidence,” said Paul after the game.

Auburn is led by the play of Frankie Sullivan who knocked down 18. One stat the Tigers dominate with in the first half was boards 20-12, of which they are beating Illini 8-3 on offensive grabs.

So, can the Illini hold off the stingy Tigers and get their first victory here at the United Center in their last three games? Stay tune….

The Fighting Illini come into this contest tied for tops in the nation with 9.8 3-pointers per game, and with leading scorer Brandon Paul (19.2) are focused to get back to their style of play and become more efficient from beyond the arc.

“We just have to get a little better with the execution stuff,” coach John Groce said.

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On the other side of the court, Auburn comes in 5-6 record, of which their last four games against Grambling, Furman, Tennessee Tech and Winthrop, limited them to a combined 17 of 83 (20.5 percent) from 3-point range in winning three of their last four.

“Illinois is a very talented team coming off a tough loss to Missouri,” Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. “The entire team is capable of making 3-point shots and can go off.”

Guard Frankie Sullivan, the team’s scoring leader (16.9), will try to build off a 22-point effort after nearly leading the Tigers to a comeback victory from 16 down.

“It is very exciting,” said Sullivan of playing the Illini. “We have an opportunity to put a good win on our resume. It is going to be a great challenge, and we will be up for the challenge.”

Chris Denson, another high-scoring guard, has given the team a boost after being academically ineligible the fall semester. The junior has averaged 17.0 points while shooting 57.5 percent from the floor in his first four games after finishing with 18 on 6 of 13 shooting against the Eagles.

This is the last non-Big Ten contest for Illinois before they open up conference play at Purdue on Jan. 2.

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FUN FACTS

Illinois defeated Auburn in the only other meeting between the teams, 107-103 in overtime in the championship game of the Illini Classic on Dec. 12, 1987.

While the Illini have dropped three straight and five of six at the United Center, the Tigers have lost eight straight overall against ranked opponents.

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Illinois-Georgia Tech

Posted on November 28, 2012. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

November 27, 2012

Illinois plays host to Georgia Tech

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) – The Fighting Illini (8-0) had to lean on reserve guard Joseph Bertrand to knock off Georgia Tech 75-62 Wedneday night at Assembly Hall during the Big Ten / ACC Challenge.   The redshirt, 6’6″ junior hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions (sick and-1 http://youtu.be/9rNqfhfvp8w) and scored every point in a 10-0 run to ignite the Illini to the victory.

”It’s really helped my confidence,” Bertrand said. ”I’m looking to shoot them more this year. I was driving more last year. I’m looking to do both.”

After missing his first season with a knee injury, Bertrand relied upon his athleticism to get to the basket and create scoring opportunities for himself during the last two years. By concentrating on his perimeter game during individual practice sessions over the summer, he’s become tougher to guard.   ”Until you get to know him, Joe sometimes comes off like a quiet guy, but he’s got some big-time energy,” Illinois coach John Groce said. ”I very rarely will watch practice film or game film and say, ‘Bertrand isn’t playing hard.”’

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Georgia Tech rallied with two 3-pointers from guard Chris Bolden and a breakaway dunk by Jason Morris for a 54-50 lead with 10:16 left.

The lead changed hands six times in a back-and-forth first half, when Illinois shot 46.7 percent from the 3-point line while the Yellow Jackets hit 45.5 from behind the arc.

During the first half both teams played a solid, uptempo game as the home team take a 1 point lead into half 36-35. Both teams shot darn near identical: Yellow Jackets 46.2% from field and 45.5% from downtown, Illini 46.7% from both. But by the end of the contest, the home team increased their percentages, 474% from for the floor and 50% from downtown, and theYellow Jackets decreased  44.2% and 38.1% respectively.

Bertrand and Brandon Paul finished the contest with 15 points apiece, and Tyler Griffey and D.J. Richardson each had 14 points for Illinois.

Kammeon Holsey led Georgia Tech (4-2) with 14 points while Jason Morris and Mfon Udofia scored 10 apiece of which 8 came in the first half.

‘‘If you had said, ‘Would you predict 8-0?’ I probably wouldn’t have been bold enough to do that,’’ Groce said. ‘‘But our guys have been resilient. We’ve been popped in the mouth two or three times and come back in games and made big plays down the stretch. Hopefully, we continue to do that.’’

Coming into this Big Ten-ACC Challenge, the Fighting Illini are off to a fast, undefeated start of 7-0 and play host to Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in this years’ Big Ten – ACC Challenge. It just seems that first year coach John Groce and got the team to buy into his way of things and it’s working. Groce uses attacking, dribble-drive offense and they feel comfortable in it, and that is helping them make shots.

Groce said of Illinois’ Top 25 ranking. ‘‘We’re seven games in. It’s not that we don’t appreciate the recognition. But at the end of the day, what’s it mean in terms of the long-term mission we’re on to be the best team we can be in February and March?’’

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FUN NOTES

John Groce’s 8-0 start is the second-best by a first-year coach at Illinois along with Harry Combes (1947-48). Fletcher Lane started 12-0 in 1907-08, his only season as Illini coach.

After losing 12 of its last 14 games last season, Illinois is off to a strong start under Groce, who became the only coach since World War II to start his Illini career with eight straight wins.

Illinois holds a 7-1 advantage over Georgia Tech in the all-time series, including five straight wins.

 Illinois is 7-1 against Georgia Tech, including a 103-92 double-OT victory Jan. 22, 1989. That was the only other time Tech has come to Champaign. With that win, Illinois improved to 17-0 and was ranked No. 1 in the nation the next day.

Illinois entered the week as the nation’s leading 3-point shooting team, making an average of 10.9 per game.


Attendance: 12224 – Orange Crush!!!

For more on the 2012 Big Ten-ACC Challenge roundup click here.

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2011-12 NCAA Basketball Recognitions

Posted on April 26, 2012. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Here’s our 2011-12 NCAA Basketball Recognitions…

APRIL 2012

This was a wonderful year for NCAA basketball… new records, new champions and many players played BIG. So here’s our post-season recognition… ~Click here!

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