Big Ten power rankings: Week 4

And we’re back for another week, with another installment of Inside the Hall’s weekly Big Ten power rankings. It took us a full 21 days to reach our first notable milestone, but we have: For the first time, Alex, Ryan and Zach all turned in identical ballots.

Indiana is moving up, Michigan and Illinois each took a slide and Purdue reclaimed the No. 2 spot on the ballot by the skin of its teeth, after successive road losses. Perhaps most impressive is Penn State, which has beaten Michigan State and Illinois, and Saturday took Ohio State all the way to the brink at Value City Arena.

And away we go …

Inside the Hall Big Ten power rankings: Week 4

11. Iowa – NR; 7-10, 0-5; 33 total points

It’s getting bleaker by the moment in Iowa City, as more and more teams grab at least one nice Big Ten win, and supposed bottom feeders like Penn State leave Fran McCaffrey’s group behind. The Hawkeyes have a road date with Ohio State on Wednesday, but it’s Sunday they might be thinking about, when Indiana comes to Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Lose then, and it’s tough sledding if Iowa wants to win one in the Big Ten all year.

10. Michigan – NR; 11-7, 1-4; 30 total points

Ooof. It’s hard to pick out the worst thing about Michigan’s rather comprehensive loss to Indiana on Saturday, the elimination of Zach Novak from the offense, the porous defense or the notion that Darius Morris felt devoid of impact until late in the game. Michigan has some impressive losses this year — Kansas, Syracuse, Ohio State. Last Saturday was not one of them.

9. Indiana – NR; 10-8,  1-4; 27 total points

A 19-point win over Michigan isn’t the most earth-shattering result in the world — unless it’s an emphatic end to a dispiriting six-game losing streak. The win was Indiana’s first in conference this season, it was strong in nearly every facet and it was Tom Crean’s largest Big Ten win, in terms of point total, in his IU career. Play like that against any other Big Ten opponent, and the Hoosiers will almost certainly be, at very least, competitive.


Photo Gallery: Michigan at Indiana

Thanks to Jamie Owens of J. Scott Photography/J. Scott Sports for these fantastic images of Indiana’s 80-61 win over Michigan on Saturday at Assembly Hall:

Zeller, Washington win big against Jasper, Gibson So.

Cody Zeller talks to the media after signing his National Letter of Intent with Indiana on November 11, 2010. Photo by Inside the Hall.

Throughout the season, Inside the Hall will keep you posted on how 2011 signees Austin Etherington and Cody Zeller, IU’s eight verbal commitments and other notable prospects with interest in the Hoosiers, are performing at their respective schools.

You can send us stats or results for this report at Here’s our latest update:


+ Austin Etherington (Hamilton Heights): Eleven points in a 72-64 win over Western Boone on Jan. 15. Twenty points and 11 rebounds in a 73-56 win at Lapel on Jan. 14.

+ Cody Zeller (Washington): Battled foul trouble, but still finished with 16 points in a 70-54 win over Jasper on Jan. 14. Twenty-two points in a 49-27 win at Gibson Southern on Jan. 15.


Win proves again that it’s all about defense

BLOOMINGTON — Execution is the common theme that runs through all of basketball. Everything a team wants to do, every goal it wants to achieve, however small or large, specific or grandiose, will be determined by its ability to execute.

Throughout the build-up to this season, defense was the word on the lips of everyone inside the Indiana program. It was, they said, the primary focus of the Hoosiers’ offseason work, and the peg upon which they would hang their basketballing hat this winter, a prediction that played out favorably until tougher opponents started appearing on the schedule.

Over their recent four-game losing streak, the Hoosiers were allowing a rather putrid 76.5 points per contest. And to skirt the border of an awful cliche, their worst was last — a 93-81 loss at Northwestern, during which the Wildcats tortured Indiana in transition and in the halfcourt in almost equal measure.

Saturday night could not have been more different.

From Michigan’s very first possession, Indiana’s gameplan against Michigan was laid clear — take away Darius Morris’ ability to drive his right and close down his options on the kickout, primarily Zack Novak. That plan was executed (buzz word) precisely.

Verdell Jones, playing straight up for much of the game on Morris, played him hard to the Michigan guard’s right, practically inviting him to drive to the left. It was an invitation Morris rarely accepted. When he did, he looked uncomfortable, and on the drives that made it to the basket, he still switched to his right hand to try a layup, costing him at least one bucket.

Novak was so far removed from the game it was hard to tell when he was on the floor. The sharpshooter hit a barren 2-of-6 from the field, and 1-of-5 from behind the arc. Jeremiah Rivers in particular shadowed the junior from Chesterton to fine effect, closing him out of a first half that ended with Michigan having scored just 15 points, the lowest halftime total for an Big Ten opponent since 2002.


Michigan Postgame Video: Tom Crean, John Beilein

Watch the full press conferences for both Tom Crean and John Beilein following Indiana’s 80-61 win over the Wolverines in Assembly Hall on Saturday night in the embedded media players below:

Michigan Postgame Video: Hulls, Jones, Watford

Watch the postgame comments of Jordan Hulls (13 points, 4-of-4 from the field), Verdell Jones (24 points, 9-of-10 from the field) and Christian Watford (17 points, 10 rebounds) following Indiana’s 80-61 win over Michigan on Saturday at Assembly Hall in the embedded media players below:


The Minute After: Michigan

Notes on an 80-61 victory over Michigan. Photo by Jamie Owens.

This team badly needed a strong defensive performance.

Tonight inside Assembly Hall, they brought just that — and more.

From the onset, the Hoosiers displayed intensity, emotion and aggression on both ends of the floor, all of which snowballed throughout the game to their eventual victory.

Indiana denied Michigan their first rebound until 10 minutes into the game. The Wolverines only managed 15 points in the first half. They only shot 36.4 percent from the field (20-of-55) and 29.2 percent from three (7-of-24).

The Hoosiers needed this game in so many ways. For their first Big Ten win. To snap their six-game losing streak, one that seemed like it never wanted to end at times. For pride.

But most of all, to prove to themselves, their coach and their fanbase that they’re better than they’ve been. That they are capable of contending in this conference, and capable of defending on their home court.

It’s been suggested this was perhaps a bit of a letdown game for Michigan after it played strong in losses to Kansas and Ohio State. Maybe there’s some validity to that.

Or maybe, for the first time in too long, Indiana finally put it all together for a victory.


ITH on Twitter

  • RT : Syracuse the highest newcomer in AP Top 25 men's poll at 14. Also in: West Virginia, Providence, Louisville, Baylor. https://…
  • RT : Indiana is out of the AP poll, coming in at No. 30 in the voting.
  • Teams that dropped out of the poll: No. 13 Cal, No. 14 Indiana, No. 17 LSU, No. 18 Notre Dame, No. 20 Wichita State, No. 21 Connecticut.
  • Three Big Ten teams in the coaches poll: Maryland (2), Michigan State (3) and Purdue (11).
  • New USA Today coaches top 25 poll is out and as expected, Indiana is out. Fourth among "others receiving votes."

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