We're still in that cupcake season for basketball, but things were a bit more competitive for some last week with a few Top 25 matchups, a Top 10 matchup for MSU, and some solid matchups in the Charleston Classic for Penn State. DJ Newbill has stood out so far for the conference, averaging over 20 a game for Penn State down in Charleston and putting the team on his back. Let's get to the recaps:
Everyone rolled on Monday, with the closest matchup of the night being Northwestern winning 69-56 over Brown, who was oddly favored by 1 in this matchup. The next closest margin was a 19 point blowout of Texas Southern by Indiana, who is slowly showing that they might be better than expected this year.
The B1G went 1-1 in the two non-cupcakes of the night, with Michigan State losing 81-71 to Duke while Ohio State defeated Marquette 74-63 in a solid out of conference matchup. Michigan State stayed in the game up until the 11 minute mark before Duke went on a 7-0 run in a one minute span and kept it that way for the rest of the game. The opposite was true for Ohio State, who didn't trail from the 9-8 score in the beginning onward. Shannon Scott led OSU with an eye popping 14 assists, while Kam Williams led with 15 points behind 6-8 shooting off the bench.
Nothing too big from Wednesday: Wisconsin handled Green Bay thoroughly 84-60 while Rutgers beat Fairleigh Dickenson), 61-44.
Thursday was not so great to the B1G last week, going 1-1 against ranked teams and dropping one to unranked Charlotte. Penn State took Charlotte to two overtimes before losing 106-97, putting them into the consolation bracket of the Charleston Classic. Still, the offense that Penn State put up should be noted as positive steps going forward for a basketball program that is consistently overshadowed by the football program. Iowa also lost on Thursday to Texas by a score of 71-57. Iowa led at the half 30-24, but a big second half catapulted the Longhorns to a bigger margin of victory that gave everyone no doubt they could compete this year.
The winners? Maryland handles Fordham even with some poor shooting on the Terps part, Minnesota drowning Franklin Pierce 109-57 and Purdue more than doubles up Grambling State 82-30. 30. They are a cupcake, but even cupcakes score. Kudos Purdue. Indiana continues their impressive opening of the season, downing #22 SMU 74-68. For all of the off the court trouble they've had, they seem to be handling it well on the court and have impressed so far this season.
The eh? Michigan needing a solid second half to put away Detroit at home and Northwestern giving all they could to fend off North Florida 69-67.
Once again, ranked teams and Iowa don't go well together. Mike Jones #hottake: "We fucking suck at everything." Iowa drops a close one where they outscored Syracuse in the second half but couldn't close the deficit in a final of 66-63. Two chances, two losses.
The rest of the games went as expected, with Illinois once again blowing out another cupcake in Austin Peay 107-66 and Michigan State bouncing back to take down Loyola (Ill.) 87-52. Penn State bounced back from the double overtime loss to squeak one past Cornell 72-71. After trailing at the half, DJ Newbill put the team on his back en route to the victory, dropping 26 points along with 4 steals in the process. They might have something in Newbill, and we'll see as the quality of opposition increases.
Our first shocking upset of the season comes as #21 Nebraska loses to URI. Nebraska was taken to OT by Rhode Island and downed 66-62 in a shocking performance. URI got a solid performance out of guard E.C. Matthews, who was 11-14 from the charity stripe and in a volume shooting performance, 7-20 from the field including 1-9 from the 3. My...untrained eye would tell me he was taking many drives into the lane and Nebraska couldn't stop fouling. That can be the only explanation as he looked like an awful shooter from the 3 and was probably lobbing it in the lane. Nebraska will look to rebound and continue to build off of the solid season they had last year.
The rest of the B1G? No real issues except for Northwestern pulling one out in OT against....Elon. Yikes. A win is a win, but being down at the half to Elon and needing OT to pull it off is not one of the ways I'd pick to get one. Northwestern is 4-0, but these OOC wins might be 90% of them for the year at this level of play they are showing.
Penn State gained a quality win on Sunday, beating USC 63-61 in the Charleston Classic on more hot shooting by DJ Newbill, who posted 22 in the win. Rutgers won another behind the performance of Kadeem Mack 76-73 over St. Francis while OSU blew out Sacred Heart 106-48.
The Good: Michigan and Maryland handled two quality non-conference games against Oregon and Arizona State respectively. Both teams relied on strong backcourt play to carry their teams to victory, as both received under 20 points combined from their entire front court. Both teams also put on impressive free throw shooting performances with Michigan shooting 79% and Maryland shooting 89%, including 13 of 14 from freshman PG Melo Trimble, who finished with 31 points on the night.
The other good? MSU, Iowa, and Illinois all handled their games easily. Iowa's was a little closer than you would think against Pepperdine, but the end result wasn't in doubt.
The Bad: Purdue lost to Kansas State, and not the Kansas State from years past who was a perennial contender in the Big 12. They lost to a Kansas State team that lost to Long Beach State. Ball security was an issue for Purdue as Kansas State amassed 9 steals out of the total 13 turnovers from Purdue.
Indiana. I wrote nice things about you from last week, and then you go and lose to Eastern Washington. Eastern Washington took advantage of the lack of size with their starting Forward going for 20 and 14 with 5 blocks. I asked Candystripes for Breakfast about it, our resident Indiana contributor, and he said it didn't surprise him since size was a concern going into the season and a cold shooting night could make Indiana lose to someone that they should normally beat without issue.
The Week Ahead:
Taking a look at the week ahead, we're going to have a slight change in format and take this through the weekend. I'll attempt to look into every tournament to see what matchups are already known, but if I miss one it's most likely because it's not listed on schedules yet. This week is when the meat of most tournaments are being played and will offer a glimpse for many teams of where their teams are in development and what they can expect as the season rolls on.
Maui Invitational: Purdue takes on Missouri in what is one of the better games of the night. Look for Purdue to try to bounce back from the disappointing loss to KSU last night and take the chance at a solid Top 50-100 win early on in the season.
Barclays Center Classic: Rutgers takes on St. Peter's in the Barclay's Center Classic, which appears to have died down some in competition since the first two years of its inception. Rutgers should handle the MAAC opponent handily.
Charleston Classic: Penn State takes on Akron tonight in what I believe is the final game for them in the Charleston Classic. Penn State definitely looks a bit better this year with DJ Newbill being a legit 20 point a night scoring threat, and they'll look to continue to improve as a team as they take on the Zips.
CBE Hall of Fame Classic: Maryland takes on Iowa State in the championship game of the CBE tonight at 930. Somehow the championship game is on ESPNU after the semi's were on ESPN2....but owell, I've given up on TV scheduling making sense. Maryland will look to continue to improve and grow as a team with freshman Melo Trimble leading the way at the point. He dropped 31 on ASU last night on 4-6 shooting from the 3 and 13-14 from the line, which is impressive no matter how you look at it.
Legends Classic: Michigan takes on Villanova in the championship game of the Legends Classic with a tip at 10pm, ouch. This is a chance for a Top 25 win for Michigan and a solid resume booster for March for Michigan. Villanova historically doesn't have big inside play, running a lot of 4 guard sets, so that plays into the strength of Michigan who is guard heavy as well. This one could turn into a shootout.
Cancun Challenge: Northwestern takes on Miami (OH) in the championship of the Cancun Challenge. I've been ragging on Northwestern for their close wins, but wins are wins. They are struggling with the competition they are playing, but this is the competition they need in order to build confidence and develop the skill sets. I don't think they are breaking the streak this year or coming anywhere close to that, but looking at the OOC, I only see two sure losses, so they do have that going for them.
Non-Tournament game: Omaha at Nebraska. I fully expect Nebraska to take that loss out on Omaha. The spread is 15, and they should cover that easily.
Battle for Atlantis: Wisconsin kicks off their tournament schedule with UAB down in the tropics. For some reason, I think they are happy to get away from the cold of last week, but that's just me. Anyways, this should prove to be a nice warm up game for them.
NIT Season Tip-Off: Minnesota takes on St. John's in the NIT tip off. I hope Minnesota doesn't sleep on St. John's, who have a solid inside presence with Obekpa along with a solid combo guard running their offense in Rysheed Jordan. St. Johns could make some noise in the Big East this year and should be vying for a tournament spot in March.
Non-tournament games: Ohio State continues the tune up games with Campbell coming to town, and the same goes for Iowa as they host Northern Illinois. Both games aren't expected to be close.
Who makes college basketball players play on Thanksgiving? WTF. This is BS. It's like stores opening up earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving to start black friday early. These kids aren't being paid*. #endrant
Las Vegas Invitational: Illinois takes on Indiana State. This is probably going to be along the lines of the many blowouts so far this year that Illinois is racking up.
Orlando Classic: MSU takes on Rider, in what is probably going to be a duplicate of above.
Battle for Atlantis: Wisconsin is playing the winner of Florida and Georgetown, assuming they knock off UAB. Win this game, and they move on to the championship. Lose and they go to the 3rd place game.
Barclay's Center Classic: Rutgers takes on Vanderbilt, who is not nearly as good as in years past. This should be a solid litmus test for Rutgers regardless, so a win here would give some solid confidence into that program.
NIT Season Tip-Off: Minnesota plays either Gonzaga or Georgia, at 4:30pm eastern if they lose Wednesday, or at 7:00pm eastern if they win Wednesday. Obviously if they are in the later slot, they are in the championship game. The preference early on would be Gonzaga for the better matchups for strength of schedule purposes and for better experience for the team. My guess would be that they are playing Gonzaga too, but Georgia has had some upsets in recent years.
Battle for Atlantis: Wisconsin is playing in the championship or 3rd place game. TBD.
Non-tournament games: All snoozefests with OSU/JMU, Penn State/Bucknell, Maryland/Monmouth, Nebraska/UT Martin, and UNC Greensboro/Indiana. These better be all wins.
Two snoozefests with Iowa/Longwood and Michigan/Nicholls State. Two wins.
Maryland/VMI. More tune up games for Maryland's freshman PG and young front court.
What do I want this week? No losses to cupcakes or teams that you should be beating. What do I expect? Someone is going to drop a game they shouldn't, most likely coming from Rutgers or Northwestern finally running out of that close game magic they've had so far this season. I hope I'm wrong, because losing to cupcakes is no fun, well, except for those having fun at the expense of you afterwards.