Each week through the basketball season, former Illini and current BTN analyst Sean Harrington will break down the Big Ten — and provide a scouting report on a critical upcoming game
Indiana (24-4, 12-3)
■ The Hoosiers still control their own destiny. But the road to the outright Big Ten title will be a tough one.
Michigan State (22-6, 11-4)
■ The Spartans still have a chance at the conference title, but they need one more slip-up from the Hoosiers.
Michigan (23-5, 10-5)
■ The Wolverines’ shot at the Big Ten title and a No. 1 seed in the tournament ended with a loss at Penn State.
Wisconsin (20-8, 11-4)
■ Bo Ryan will not only finish in the top four of the conference again but the Big Ten title also is a possibility.
Ohio State (21-7, 11-5)
■ The Buckeyes still have a shot at the Big Ten title, but they will have to beat the Hoosiers in Bloomington for a piece of it.
Illinois (20-9, 7-8)
■ The Illini’s five-game win streak came to an end in Ann Arbor, but they still are playing good ball at the right time.
Minnesota (19-9, 7-8)
■ The Gophers became the third unranked team to beat Indiana while it was ranked No. 1 this season.
Iowa (18-10, 7-8)
■ The Hawkeyes may have seen their tournament hopes slip away when they let one get away at Nebraska.
Purdue (13-15, 6-9)
■ The Boilermakers will have to win three more games to get a chance at an NIT bid.
Nebraska (13-15, 4-11)
■ Cornhuskers need to play better than they did at Wisconsin or it might get ugly Saturday.
Northwestern (13-16, 4-12)
■ Injuries have been too much for the Wildcats to overcome this season.
Penn State (9-18, 1-14)
■ The Nittany Lions shocked the world by getting their first conference win over Michigan.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Had 25 points and six rebounds while going 6 for 10 from three-point range in a major upset over Michigan.
KEYS TO THE GAME
✓ Match their energy ✓ Make it an up-tempo game
Keys to stopping Nebraska
The Cornhuskers are struggling to score the ball. Don’t give them any transition points or second-chance points. Make them earn all their baskets. Nebraska is not shooting the ball well, so take away penetration and make the players score from the outside. A triangle-and-2 defense can be very effective. This would mean you put your two best defenders on Talley and Gallegos. These two defenders never leave these two guys. They have no help responsibilities. The other three defenders are in a triangle around the lane. Completely take out Talley and Gallegos and make the rest of the team, which averages 32.5 points combined, beat you.
Nebraska runs a lot of actions out of the 1-4 high set. If the point hits the wing, it will be a back screen for the PG and then a ball screen for the wing with the ball. If the wing with the ball is Talley or Gallegos, trap him hard.
If the point hits one of the bigs at the elbows, the other big will set a pin down for the wing and the big with the ball will run a dribble handoff at that wing.
If Gallegos is in one of the elbow positions, they will pass to the wing opposite of him. The big will set a ball screen, but the guard will drive baseline and the big will set a screen for Gallegos, who will come around behind the dribbler for a three.
Nebraska will get into a high-low set out of two actions. One way is to be in a 1-4 low set. The bigs will cross screen for each other, and one will flash high and the other will post up low. The other way to get into the high-low is to be in a double high set. The point will dribble off one of the bigs, who will dive to the rim. The opposite big will stay high to make the high-low pass. Deny the opposite post the ball at the top and the play is blown up.
The Cornhuskers also like to run a baseline runner. They will have two guards up top and two bigs on the blocks. They will run Talley or Gallegos on the baseline over and over using the bigs as screeners. Make sure you stay on the runner’s tail. Don’t get separated and make them curl where the bigs can help out on the drive.
Keys to scoring on Nebraska
Nebraska is mainly a man-to-man defensive team, but it has shown some 2-3 zone lately. The Cornhuskers like to pack in their defense in the lane. They will play ball screens a variety of ways. However, they usually will give a flat hedge with the big and have the guard go over the screen. Illinois bigs need to set solid screens. If the guard comes off this screen tight, he will be able to turn the corner on the big defender.
On almost all screens, the Cornhusker defenders go under the screens, which means the shooters coming off screens will be able to “bump and fade.” There will not be many curls open.
Because Nebraska plays screens these two ways, Illinois will want to set screens inside the arc to give the shooter a shot that is not far from the basket. Nebraska will play behind in the post and will not post trap. Post passes should be available. Post players need to post up deep and take their time to make good post moves.
Illinois will have to make sure it takes good shots. Because of the pack defense, Illinois will feel open often. The Illini should try to get out in transition to score before Nebraska can get back to set its defense. Illinois’ bigs should sprint the court to the rim, especially if Almeida is in the game.
Personnel (top seven players)
#24 Dylan Talley
Playing with a ton of confidence right now. Has really been scoring the ball. Very good scorer. Strong body. Shooting it much better from three. Can get to the rim going right and left. Good pull-up jumper. Contest all shots. No free looks. Find him early in transition. Box him out. Make him drive left. Trap him on all ball screens.
#15 Ray Gallegos
Has not been shooting a good percentage lately. Shooter who can get hot. Sixty-five percent of his shots are threes. Loves to score going to his left. More than 75 percent of his scores are going left. Crowd him on the perimeter. Make him put the ball on the floor and force him right. Find him early in transition.
#13 Brandon Ubel
Has been a beast on the boards. Scores a lot around the rim. Likes to use the righty hook. Scores over his left shoulder. Good shooter to 17 feet. Can make an open three. Box him out. Make him score over his right shoulder in the post. Push him off the block. Contest his shots but don’t fly at him out of control.
#32 Andre Almeida
Numbers are down lately. Very big body. Needs an angle to score in the post. Good rebounder. Force him off the block. Don’t give him an angle in the post. Make him score over you. Make him guard ball screens.
#2 David Rivers
Very good athlete. Gets to the rim to score. Can shoot out to 17 feet. Good rebounder. Contest his shot to 17 feet but be under control for the drive. Box him out. Make him drive left.
#31 Shavon Shields
Playing a lot better. Good athlete. Likes to put the ball on the floor and attack the rim. Likes to ball screen and dive to the hoop. Can make an open three. Box him out. Make him score over you. Make him go over his right shoulder in the post. Contain dribble penetration.
#3 Benny Parker
Not playing as much. Quick point guard who is looking to pass and set up teammates. Not a very good shooter. Wants to drive right. Don’t leave your man to double him. Make him shoot from the outside. Force him left on the drive.