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Big Ten Basketball Weekly Recap



Monday, December 19

Indiana 107, Howard 50

Michigan State 89, UMKC 54

Iowa 105, Central Arkansas 64

Illinois 64, Cornell 60

Tuesday, December 20

Ohio State 70, Lamar 50

Purdue 81, IPFW 56

Nebraska 72, Central Michigan 69

Wednesday, December 21

Penn State 74, Cornell 67

Thursday, December 22

Indiana 89, UMBC 47

Missouri 78, Illinois 74

Ohio State 69, Miami (Ohio) 40

Michigan 77, Bradley 66

Michigan State 90, Lehigh 81

Iowa 81, Boise State 72

Creighton 87, Northwestern 79

Minnesota 63, North Dakota State 59

Friday, December 23

Wisconsin 79, Mississippi Valley State 45

The past week of basketball in the Big Ten did little to please league executives. It's hard to see how one of America's stronger basketball conferences made any appreciable advancements over the past seven days.


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For starters, Illinois - once the national runner-up in 2005 - has simply failed to make a major mark on any subsequent season. The grumbling and rumbling coming out of Champaign, Illinois, is growing louder by the day, as the locals become increasingly convinced that the 2005 run to the title game (and a loss to North Carolina) was merely the product of former coach Bill Self's recruits. Current Illinois coach Bruce Weber has clearly failed to recruit at the level Self established. Weber certainly made the most of Self's talent in that 2005 season, but his lack of star-studded recruiting classes and a dearth of deep NCAA Tournament runs has left the Illini searching for answers in recent years. With all of this as background, Illinois faced unbeaten Missouri this past Thursday in St. Louis, intent on announcing its arrival this season. Illinois played Missouri close, but the Tigers outfought the Illini in the final minutes to earn a four-point triumph that has Weber in a bind. Illinois beat Gonzaga in the non-conference portion of the schedule but then got whipped at home by UNLV. A victory over Richmond is nice, but as the Big Ten season approaches, the Illini need to be better than .500 in league play if they want to feel reasonably comfortable on Selection Sunday.

Other teams in the league aren't faring much better than Illinois. Northwestern lost to Creighton last Thursday, cementing itself as an NIT-bound team. Northwestern is the only team from one of the six power conferences that has missed all 73 NCAA Tournaments; it appears highly likely that the Wildcats will move that mind-blowing streak to 74 Big Dances this March. The rest of the Big Ten didn't lose this past week, but that's because the vast preponderance of the league's teams played paycheck games against weak opponents. Illinois-Mizzou and Northwestern-Creighton were the two battleground games for the league this past week; the Big Ten lost both of them. That's not good.



By Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer



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