UGH. That about describes what happened yesterday to the B1G in basketball as they had their Week 2 of the football season moment. Yes, that's right, it was that bad. The B1G had a chance for four solid wins against quality opponents and came away 1 for 4. Yes, that's right, 1 for 4. And that one win? That didn't come from Ohio State, who is ranked 12th in the nation and who you would assume would beat opponents below them. Those three losses? One was a blowout, one was over ten minutes into the second half, and the other featured the Buckeyes getting bullied on the boards. Enough ranting, let's get to the specifics:
SMU at Michigan - Michigan's struggles continue as they dropped this 62-51. That makes it four in a row, starting with that ugly loss to NJIT and continuing with EMU, Arizona, and SMU. So what happened? Michigan went into the half down by 3, which is perfectly fine, but came out cold in the second half missing 8 of its first 9 shots to increase SMU's lead to double digits. Then they came back. Yes, they came back and took a 2 point lead and were in the game. Then? Well, they returned to form, missing 9 of their next 10 to lose the game by 11. Michigan's struggles are deeper than going cold from the field, as it's more of a reflection of their lineup than anything. Michigan has no proven inside game, and as a result they rely way too much on the jumper to score. If they are having an off night or face a defense that shuts the guards down? It gets ugly. We saw yesterday what happened when the forwards don't step up. Michigan's two leading rebounders were guards, and no player finished with more than five rebounds. Not good.
Ohio State at North Carolina - I say "at", but this was a neutral site game in Chicago. Ohio State dropped a tough game against UNC 82-74, who did not have any issues penetrating the newly established zone defense OSU is employing this year. Amir Williams continues to baffle everyone as he seems to have a Jeckel and Hyde personality to him of who is going to show up. Is he coming to play or is he going to lay down and take it? Well, yesterday he laid down and took it letting Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson dominate the boards for UNC. Ohio State went into the half down 12, and the lead grew to as much as 18 before OSU tried to turn it on down the stretch. Cold shooting by star freshman D'Angelo Russell did not help matters as OSU got as close as 7 with a minute to go, but UNC made enough free throws to ice the game. If Ohio State wants to compete for the top of the conference this year, they are going to need consistency inside from Williams, and they simply aren't getting that this year. It really hurts when teh guards go cold and they have nothing to go to inside, and it showed.
Missouri at Illinois - This game is also an "at", as this was played in St. Louis and is a rivalry game between the two. Missouri is not what it has been the past few years, as they are 5-6 and rebuilding under a new coach this year, but nevertheless a win is a win. Illinois beat Missouri 62-59 on a last second three by Rayvonte Rice, putting Illinois on top in a close game for the win. This is a good win and one Illinois certainly wanted, but not the marquee win it would be in the OOC in years past. Illinois can score with everyone, but it would appear they need to get some more consistency to play with the big boys after dropping most of the bigger games on the OOC schedule. Either way, at least you won Illinois, that is something a lot of the B1G can't claim for this weekend.
Drexel at Penn State - Penn State continues its hot streak, and you know what, at least they're beating who they should beat. I never thought I'd be saying this about Penn State hoops, but at least they are winning the games they should win. The rest of the B1G is struggling to say that this year. PSU dropped Drexel 73-68, led by DJ Newbill in scoring with 20.
St. Francis at Rutgers - ... Buttgers. I don't even know what to say. They lost 73-68 and might struggle to win more than two games in the B1G this year.
Indiana vs. Butler - Neutral site game in Indianapolis. Indiana won 82-73, providing the B1G at least one good win today. Indiana took down #23 Butler , continuing to show that they can score with anyone. With star freshman James Blackmon cold from the field, Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams put the team on their back and scored over half of Indiana's points to power them to victory. Indiana is starting to show they belong in that second tier of the B1G and won't be the pushover we thought they might be going into the year as they rebuilt a roster that lost so much.
Western Michigan at Northwestern - Northwestern continues to win games, even if they struggle to do so. They were down at the half, but a strong second half led them to victory over WMU, who came out strong and put Northwestern down 9 early.
And...here we go:
Texas Southern at Michigan State - WHAT. THE. HELL. MSU lost in OT 71-64, barely even showing up in OT to play. Sure, some key starters weren't in, but that was a coaches decision. Your bench should beat SWAC teams. This is almost NJIT/Incarnate Word bad. This is not what MSU does. You all beat teams you shoudl beat. Izzo coached teams don't do this. Get it together. That is embarassing.
Purdue vs. Notre Dame - Neutral site in Indy. Purdue got hammerf***d (see what I did there?) by Notre Dame 94-63 in a game that was only close in the first half. For a conference that hates Notre Dame, they certainly seem to own this conference this year. Purdue, you have two seven footers. Two. Most teams are happy to get 6'10-6'11 players. Use them. Teach them how to rebound.
Northern Iowa at Iowa - Iowa vs. the State of Iowa: 0-2. Once again, Iowa has lost to an in-state opponent, and once again it wasn't that close. 56-44 might look close, and sure Iowa led at the half, but yet again the second half was ugly. It seems to be a running theme with Iowa this year to not show up in the first part of the second half, and it showed. Iowa scored 15 points total in the second half as Northern Iowa turned it on to score 32 and erase the six point lead Iowa took into the half. Whatever McCaffery is doing at half time he needs to change, because wow it's just terrible.
What happened yesterday? The B1G went 4-6 and the top half of the B1G looked just bad. Indiana is vying for a spot up there, and I can't think of a reason they don't belong at this point. Next up is Maryland at Oklahoma State today in a game they are 7.5 point dogs. Hopefully they can finish the weekend off better than it started for the conference.