Big Shake Up in the Big Ten

Who would have thought that at this point in the college basketball season that Michigan would be 7-0 in the conference and Iowa would be a top contender for the Big Ten? Not me! I thought that it would be a showdown between Michigan State and Ohio State for the number one spot. Not so fast! Michigan just defeated Michigan State to take the number one standing in the conference and after Iowa just took down Northwestern, they are looking to move up in the college basketball rankings (they’re already 10th in the nation)! The Hawkeyes are 5th in the nation in points per game (85.7) and 3rd in rebounds per game (43.9). Those are the kind of stats that win you national championships! Ohio State has taken a lot of pride in their defense of play. They were 15-0 until they lost four straight to Michigan State, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska. They got back on track last Thursday with a win over Illinois, but they’re going to have to fight hard the rest of the season if they want to get back on top. They have a big match-up with Wisconsin on February 1st, who also has had a disappointing stretch lately. They were undefeated as well until they lost three straight to Indiana, Michigan, and Minnesota. They’re recent win over Purdue helps boost their confidence, but they’re in the same position as Ohio State. The Big Ten is looking like the most competitive conference this year. The top six teams have a legitimate shot of winning the conference title this year and a spot at a number one or two seed in the national tournament. People are underestimating Minnesota’s team. They currently have a better conference record than Ohio State’s and have defeated top teams like the Buckeyes and Wisconsin. Beating good teams has its value when playing in the national tournament. Then there’s the Michigan Wolverines. They are coming fresh off a 80-75 win against their rivals Michigan State and now own the best conference record. This was the first game where a team scored 80 points against Tom Izzo’s squad this year. Michigan is horrible at rebounding, but they make up for it with their offense. They are 30th in the nation in assists per game with 15.6 and 20th in the nation in field goal percentage, shooting 48.7 percent from the field. They have now won three straight games against top ten ranked teams. Nik Stauskas is definitely the MVP player of this team. The sophomore guard from Canada is averaging 18.5 points per game and shooting 44 percent from behind the 3-point line. Watch out for him and Glenn Robinson III to take over the Big Ten later on in the year. So if you’re looking for a college basketball game to watch in February, tune in to a Big Ten conference game. I guarantee you that it will either be an upset or a fun game to watch!


Liverpool a Potential Threat

Liverpool has looked solid lately, coming off a 2-0 win against AFC Bournemouth in the 4th round of the FA cup. They tied 2-2 with Aston Villa the week before, but their 5-3 win over Stoke City January 12th was pretty impressive. They are currently 4th in the Barclays Premier League standings right behind Chelsea with 43 points and a 25 goal differential which is second in the league behind Manchester City’s whopping 38. People haven’t been taking Liverpool seriously however, because most of their wins were against low quality teams. What people may not know is that they defeated Manchester United 1-0 earlier in the year. Being shut out is something that Manchester United is not used to doing. They have only been shut out five times this season and two of those were 0-0 ties (one with Chelsea and the other with Real Sociedad). Back to Liverpool, their star player Luis Suarez is having a fantastic season so far. He already has 22 goals, five assists and a 58.5 percent shooting accuracy. Last season, he scored 23 goals, had five assists, and had a 50.3 percent shooting accuracy. His improvement has definitely provided a spark for this surging Liverpool team. Not only that, but the 26-year-old striker tied the record for becoming the fastest player in Premier League history to score 20 goals in a season when Liverpool beat Hull City 2-0 recently. What’s even more impressive about that record is that he only did it in 15 appearances. Assisting Suarez in this hopeful title run is the ageless captain Steven Gerrard. In 17 starts, he has five goals and six assists. The midfielder’s shooting accuracy has also improved greatly from 54.2 percent last season to 62.5 percent this season. There’s no doubt that his performances week in and week out are a determining factor for the success of this club. The 41-year-old manager Brendan Rodgers has done a good job with this team. He’s only been with the club for two seasons, but during those two seasons he has formed a title contender in Liverpool. The season is only midway through, but it’s during this time that the teams start playing like champions. Liverpool is certainly looking like a champion at this point.