Good afternoon all! Now that you're all back to work and most likely procrastinating your first day back, let's do a little basketball recap. First off: A bit of a format change. Since the recap and previews is huge, I'll be splitting this into a separate recap piece and look ahead. This week is definitely different with the ACC/B1G Challenge, so we'll do a preview for each day of games along with input from the staff on their teams games.
Second: new rankings are out today, and here are the B1G representatives:
#14 Ohio State
#19 Michigan State
Maryland make's their first appearance in the poll this year after sweeping five games in ten days, highlighted by wins over Arizona State and #13 Iowa State. The down side there is star guard Dez Wells fractured his shooting hand is out for four weeks. The bright side for Maryland? He's back for the start of conference play. Wisconsin is still at the top in the B1G, with Michigan and Ohio State firmly in the teens while Michigan State looks to have received the benefit of the doubt since they dropped a game to #11 Kansas. They are still learning to play with the relative lack of inside presence, but Izzo is the coach so I'm sure they will figure it out. Illinois has also made it's first appearance in the polls at #24 with their high powered offense. They get bigger tests this week in what will be a litmus game for them in the B1G/ACC Challenge. All in all, almost half the conference is ranked early on, not bad so far.
Week 3 Recap:
In the cupcake games of sorts, Northwestern took down Miami (OH) pretty handily 55-46, keeping that undefeated streak going even with all the close finishes. Penn State also took down Akron and Nebraska handled Omaha in what was supposed to be a sneakily close game. Omaha has some solid coaching and could be one of those teams in a few years that we look at for mid-majors in the tournament.
In the games against Power 5 opponents, Purdue handled Missouri 82-61, who appears to have fallen off mightily after their past few years hovering in or around the Top 25. In the second biggest game of the night, Maryland knocked off #13 Iowa State 72-63 to secure the CBE Hall of Fame Classic Championship. Maryland road the hot hand of freshman Jared Nickens, who led the way with 15 points on 6-10 shooting in 20 minutes while Dez Wells was playing clean up man with 14 points and 9 rebounds on a very poor shooting night. In the marquee game of the night, Michigan lost a close one to #12 Villanova 60-55, unable to overcome the 27-20 halftime deficit. With Michigan's guards only putting up a combined 19 points, it's not surprising they struggled offensively to get back in it.
In the cupcake games of sorts that were lost: WTF Buttgers. I don't even know where St. Peters is, let alone that they could beat a school in a major conference by 18 points. Upon further review, they are in the MAAC and you are their only win, congrats!
Cupcake games of sorts that were won: Wisconsin blows out UAB by 29, ditto for Ohio State over Campbell by 27 and Iowa over Northern Illinois by 21. Test 1 passed for the day.
Games against actual basketball contenders: Purdue squeaked out a win against BYU in overtime 87-85 in the last game of the Maui Invitational while Northwestern dropped their first test of the season, badly, to Northern Iowa 61-42. At some point those close wins were going to turn into a loss, and Northwestern finally played a team that is a perennial contender for the tournament. The talent disparity was obvious.
Minnesota also dropped the semi-final of the NIT Tip-Off 70-61 to St. Johns in a game they were favored in and leading by 9 at the half. Minnesota was owned though in the second half in every way, losing the "half" 39-21 and giving the game away that they were in control of and a game where St. Johns only made 2-13 from the 3. Next up is the 3rd place game against Georgia.
Michigan State and Illinois both had tune up games where they won by 20+: MSU over Rider 77-45 and Illinois over Indiana State 88-62. I'm not sure who Illinois has played yet, but they are putting up some big offensive numbers so far.
Wisconsin had the big game of the day, taking on Georgetown in the Battle for Atlantis semi final. Wisconsin lost it's inside star in Frank Kaminsky for almost the entire first half in foul trouble, which let Georgetown keep things mighty close at 35-34 at the half. Georgetown came out hot in hte second half, at one point making it a 53-44 game before Wisconsin made their come back largely in part to Sam Dekker. All in all, they survived a solid early season test against the Hoyas, who traditionally do great in the regular season before blowing it in the first round to a 14 seed. Sound familiar? I'm sure it does, they've ruined so many brackets.
The B1G must of played 10 cupcakes and Rutgers must of been on a bye, right? Right? Wrong! There were some cupcake wins, but some solid wins as well over major conference opponents.
Cupcake games won: OSU pummels JMU 73-56, PSU holds off Bucknell 88-80, Maryland held off a pesky Monmouth team 61-56, Nebraska beat UT Martin 75-64, and Indiana took down UNC-Greensboro 87-79. The Maryland game was particularly close as Monmouth kept making shot after shot to keep themselves in the game every time it appeared Maryland would run away with it. It was also the first game without Dez Wells, so Maryland was finding their identity without the player who not only could take over a game, but is also a key facilitator and plays backup PG when Melo Trimble needs a rest.
Games against major conference/mid-major contenders: You are reading this right, Rutgers won AND wasn't in the cupcake recap. I'll give you props Rutgers, it was Vanderbilt who is up and down depending on the year, but you bounced back after that ugly loss to beat a major conference opponent 68-65 in a very close game. Michigan State took down Marquette 79-68 as Valentine couldn't miss from deep, Minnesota bounced back and beat Georgia 66-62 for third in the NIT Tip Off, Illinois beat Baylore 62-54, and Wisconsin took down Oklahoma 69-56 to win the Battle for Atlantis. The Wisconsin win is probably the biggest of this bunch as they continue to prove they are deserving of their ranking.
Cupcake games won: Iowa destroyed Longwood (they are in Virginia) 77-44 and Michigan destroyed Nicholls State 91-62. Boring day there.
Games against major conference teams: Congratulation Rutgers on your second embarrassing loss of the week. It's not that embarrassing to lose to a team ranked in the Top 10, but when you only put up 26 points, I think we need to have a talk. This might rival the Wisconsin game from a few years ago where they didn't break 40 as one of the worst games ever to watch since you and Virginia combined to score 71 points. Most teams score more than that by themselves, but you only scored 36% of those 71! I'm not sure what to say about this, but I hope you all just burn the game tape because I don't think anyone will be able to stay awake to watch it.
Maryland beat a cupcake team in their fifth game in ten days 95-77 as they took out the hot shooting VMI team. VMI might shoot hte most three point attempts in college basketball, but I have yet to confirm that, but 42 attempts in one game is absurd. It's even more absurd to only make 12 of those and to keep shooting.
In the interesting matchup of the day, Michigan State took on another top team in Kansas, squandering a 1 point halftime lead to lose 61-56. After going into the half with the lead, MSU came out ice cold, shooting at a clip of 18% in the first ten or so minutes to Kansas's 36%. MSU clawed their way back to get within three, but could never get back into the game after the shooting slump that doomed them.