Originally written on College Chalktalk  |  Last updated 12/4/12
Three weeks of college basketball are in the books.  As expected there have been surprises, disappointments, and a handful of teams without a blemish on their record (22 to be exact) thus far in 2012. Gonzaga (7-0, closest game: 57-49 win over Clemson on Nov. 22) has arguably been the most impressive team, but what about the most impressive conference? Enough with the ACC-Big East talk, can we please give the Big Ten some love?  The conference possesses the nation’s top-ranked team (Indiana) and is one of only two conferences (SEC – Florida, LSU, Ole Miss) with three remaining unbeatens in Indiana (8-0), Illinois (8-0), and Michigan (7-0).  Typically, the Big Ten is associated with “walk-it-up-the-court,” slow-paced, 42-41 nail-biters, but this year that is not the case… At all. Indiana (87.8 ppg) is second in the nation in scoring while Michigan (79.9 ppg) and Illinois (79.5 ppg) are 24th and 28th respectively.  Conference play is right around the corner and with North Carolina having somewhat of a rebuilding year, the stage is set for Michigan and Indiana to have the most exciting, competitive rivalry in college basketball.  They will battle it out all season for the Big Ten crown, but the boys from Columbus aren’t going to lay over for anyone and don’t forget about Mr. Final Four himself, Tom Izzo, and Michigan State. Watch Indiana play for just five minutes and try to convince yourself that you don’t want a pair of those candy-cane striped pants.  You can’t do it. Richardson has been tough as nails for No. 13 Illinois.  (Credit: Illinois Sports Information) That brings us to the dark horse in the conversation of the Big Ten champion: Illinois.  If the best prescription for late season success is solid guard-play, the Illini are in good shape with Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson.  Paul (18.3 ppg and 48% from the field) leads the team in scoring, while Richardson leads the team in rebounding and shoots 85% from the FT line.  While they may have lucked out with their matchups of Chaminade and Butler in Hawai’i instead of Texas and North Carolina, Illinois didn’t trail for a single second in their Maui Invitational title run.  That’s what some might call domination. While the Big Ten has caught our attention early this season, here are some other numbers that merit a look elsewhere around the country: 6 Don’t let their 4-2 record and recent 80-51 drubbing at the hands of Creighton fool you… St. Joe’s is good this year.  Very good.  They have tremendous scoring balance (six players averaging 9+ ppg) and have played a tough early non-conference schedule (Florida State, (20)Notre Dame, and @ (11) Creighton).  The only remaining tough games on their schedule are all A-10 contests.  Look for the Hawks to finish with no more than four or five losses. 15 Like rebounding?  Then I strongly suggest you take time to watch Cole Dickerson from San Francisco.  The 6-foot 7 junior has the innate ability to grab rebounds that he has no business getting.  Hustle, positioning, footwork, he has it all.  His 15.0 rebounds per game are easily tops in the country and don’t be surprised if he ends up having a Kenneth Faried-esque season (17 ppg and 14 rpg) for the Dons. 86.9 (Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech) Don’t look now, but Virginia Tech is the real deal.  What?! Well, maybe.  At 7-0 and coming off quality wins over Iowa and (15) Oklahoma State, the Hokies are taking care of business.  Erick Green (24.9 ppg) is a scoring machine and the team is fourth in the country in scoring at 86.9, but their 14 assists per game (109th nationally) suggests they may be playing a little too selfishly.  With ACC play looming, questions will soon be answered if they are, in fact, for real. Related Posts:Miami’s Shane Larkin among pleasant surprises in ACCIllinois asking Groce to do the improbable?Stats Slant – A look at the nation’s impact freshmenBig 12 Notebook: Surprises and Disappointments EditionOhio State’s Matta chimes in on Maryland, Rutgers Big Ten rumors
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Jason Kidd to be named general manager of Bucks

USWNT romps Japan 5-2 to win third Women's World Cup title

Report: JPP 'severely injured' hand in fireworks mishap

Blatter: European politicians helped Qatar land World Cup

Report: Cavs considering trading for Joe Johnson

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Andrew Quarless found hiding in plant after firing gun

Odell Beckham: I don't want to be known only for 'the catch'

Borland on retirement: Health 'more important' than money

Three NBA teams that improved most early in offseason

Adam Eaton gets 4th of July surprise from brother

Clippers in talks with JaVale McGee, Amar’e Stoudemire

MLB teams who will continue to disappoint in the second half

2015 All-Star starters announced, featuring four Royals

WATCH: Jake Marisnick makes fantastic running catch

WATCH: Carlos Gomez leaves gum, note for Billy Hamilton

Kansas to wear new USA jerseys after request from FIBA

What can the Saints expect from CJ Spiller in 2015?

Isaiah Thomas trolls Kings after Rajon Rondo signing

Kosta Koufos agrees to deal with Kings

Report: Blues in trade talks about Kevin Shattenirk

Report: Gregg Popovich plans to fulfill five-year contract

4-Star LB commits to Kentucky, zings Louisville

Clay Buchholz not worried about trade rumors

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

2015 All-Star starters announced

JPP injured in fireworks mishap?

Odell Beckham doesn't want to be known for 'the catch'

Russell Wilson 'would definitely consider' playing for Mariners

Solo, Rapinoe among USWNT stars up for World Cup awards

LBS on Sports Jeopardy! Here's how how it went

College football's 35 most patriotic helmets

A brief history of non-star All-Stars

With Love retained, the Cavs can take care of LeBron

Grading the deal: Davis commits to Pelicans

Obama Administration: Change name if Redskins move to D.C.

Deciding what the All-Star Game means

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.