Welcome to “Good Morning, Illini Nation,” your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He’ll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood’s team (and sometimes the Big Ten):
The Big Ten put together a combined record of 41-14 through Wednesday’s games. Five teams — Ohio State, Maryland, Penn State, Michigan and Indiana — remain undefeated. Minnesota, Northwestern and Nebraska are all below .500 early.
So, kind of a mixed bag from the conference. Northwestern has losses to Merrimack and Radford. Nebraska is keeping pace with losses to UC Riverside and Southern Utah. It should also be mentioned that all of those were at home for the Wildcats and Cornhuskers.
And while No. 3 Michigan State and No. 6 Maryland are the highest ranked Big Ten teams, No. 10 Ohio State has the best win. That the Buckeyes beat then No. 10 Villanova in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 13 wasn’t necessarily a surprise. That it was a 25-point beatdown was.
“Nobody that they would take Villanova apart like that,” former Illini now BTN analyst Stephen Bardo said. “Chris Holtmann does a great job of getting his guys ready earlier than a lot of teams. I don’t know how he does it, but he does a heck of job. And that was without Andre Wesson, so they’re really playing well.”And the rest of the Big Ten?
“There’s a lot of teams going through turnover,” Bardo said. “Iowa’s got a lot of guys playing out of position, I think. (Jordan) Bohannon, it almost looks like he came back too early. He’s not moving good. Obviously, Northwestern and Nebraska are rebuilding. But Penn State, Ohio State, Illinois, Michigna State and Michigan, I expect all of those teams — and Purdue — to kind of be in the upper echelon.”