Our esteemed Maryland writer DJ Carver detailed this weekend's struggles. Personally, I was too busy not caring about the rest of you all to notice that the B1G did poorly, but apparently Northwestern's win over Western Michigan was not the highlight (or lowlight) of the weekend. With that said, things are eminently more winnable today. Previewing them, below!
Northwestern (-11) vs. Illinois-Chicago || 1pm CST, ESPN3
Another the ‘Cats should win comfortably. The Kenpom #309 Flames play at a brisk enough tempo that Northwestern could experience mild discomfort early, but Northwestern should roll. Junior center Alex Olah needs to put another complete game together in the paint for the ‘Cats, and UIC's junior forward Jake Wiegand (8.0 rpg) should test him on the glass. If Tre Demps can continue his hot shooting steak and sophomore swingman Nathan Taphorn keeps his fiery inside-out play going, Northwestern rolls. I'll take the ‘Cats to cover.
Penn State (-8.5) vs. Dartmouth || 3pm, BTN2
Quintessential Ivy league team Dartmouth brings its glacial pace (ranked 335 in KP AdjT) to the Bryce Jordan Center to take on Penn State as the Nits seek to keep on winning games they should. The Big Green will bring two talented "big" men, Connor Boehm and Gabas Maldunas, to challenge Penn State down low, along with the hot-shooting Alex Mitola. Penn State still struggles from deep (32.5%), which I have to assume will hurt the Nittany Lions at some point. Not having watched a ton of Penn State games (OK, I haven't watched any), I have to think something like a 3-2 zone would pressure D.J. Newbill to get penetration or shoot his was out of trouble. Still, Penn State is undefeated in regulation, and I don't think that trend stops today--Lions by 15.
#12 Ohio State (-23.5) vs. Miami Hydroxide || 5pm, BTN
Miami is bad. Baaaaaaaad bad. The bad Amir Williams can show up, and despite the struggles against North Carolina, the Buckeyes will still win this. The Redhawks don't shoot particularly well, are bad from the free throw line, and rebound at an abysmal (347th in the nation at 27.8 rpg) clip. At that pace and ability, you would think Miami Hydroxide would slow the game down, yet they don't. So even if the Buckeyes struggle with their shooting, they'll be fine. Bucks by 20.
#25 Michigan State (-24) vs. The Citadel || 5pm, BTN
I want to say ‘gimme,' but ... I mean ... Texas Southern. The Citadel looks like a team I can support: #324 in Kenpom with rankings of 268 in AdjO, 344 in AdjD, and 351 (LAST!) in AdjT, the Bulldogs like to play at glacial paces and still suck at it by allowing good shooting and easy possessions. Shoutout to the Penn State fans, though: they did beat the Ed Dechellis-led Navy Middies. And, I mean, the Bulldogs only lost to Virginia Tech by 3 the other night. So...this could be fun? If The Citadel's chucker, Ashton Moore, shoots at a decent pace and the Spartans struggle from the field, who knows, right? But Sparty should cover going away, assuming they get their shooting back on track.
Purdue vs. Gardner-Webb || 5pm, hahahaha no tv
Runnin' Bulldogs gon' run! The Big South representatives love to get out and sprint, rating 25th in AdjT in Kenpom. Gardner-Webb's leading scorers, F Jerome Hill and C Tyrell Nelson, happen to be their leading rebounders. Unfortunately, they are 6'5" and 6'7", respectively. Will Matt Painter remember that he has two players over 7'? If he heeds our own DJ Carver: "Use them. Teach them how to rebound." Painter probably won't, but a balanced Purdue attack (10 players averaging 10+ minutes) should be good enough to win anyways. Boilers by 10.
Indiana vs. New Orleans || 6pm, BTN2
I would barely watch this if it were an NBA game. Nonetheless, I'm told it's going to happen anyways. The 3-4, Kenpom #305, bitchin' name-having Privateers struggle on the glass and in the ball-sharing department, but can shoot the lights out if given the chance. Indiana isn't any great shakes on defense, but their hyper-efficient, #9-rated Kenpom offense should do the trick. The 4- or 5-out Privateers offense causes a couple headaches early, then the Hoosiers (I'm calling Hanner Mosquera-Perea with a field day inside) break out and wear down New Orleans. Hoosiers by 25.
Iowa vs. North Florida || 7pm, ESPN3
Interestingly, I think this could be the game the Hawkeyes needed. The Ospreys like to run, at #37 in AdjT, and are decently efficient on offense (59th nationally in FG%), but don't rebound well (236th nationally), aren't deep (10 players total with minutes this year), and couldn't even beat Northwestern. Iowa needs Aaron White to find his stroke from deep and Mike Gesell to remember how to shoot (33.8 FG% on the year), but perhaps North Florida's tendency to get out and sprint could encourage some Hawkeye aggression and tempo that's been sorely missing in losses to teams like Iowa State and Northern Iowa. Hawkeyes should get it done by 20 tonight.
Minnesota (-27) vs. Furman || 7pm, ESPN3
This is a game that will happen. The Paladins only have two players averaging over 10 ppg, and outside 6'0" G Stephen Croone, Furman shouldn't do much damage to the Gophers. A deep Gophers attack, especially featuring the exploits of freshman G Nate Mason (3.4 apg), should be more than enough to pace Minnesota. Side-note: what happened to Elliot Eliason? Has Mo Walker become that vital to the Minnesota attack? I met Eliason once near bar close at Burrito Loco. He hated Bill Carmody and the 1-3-1. He is now dead to me. Side-side-note: What do we make of Minnesota's non-conference schedule? A loss to Louisville, an unconvincing loss to St. John's, and relatively cupcake-ish wins the rest of the way. Does it hurt the Gophers in March? Minnesota by 30 tonight.
Michigan (-23.5) vs. Coppin State || 7pm, BTN
Schadenfreude can only be so good, right? Coppin runs, runs, runs: #3 in AdjT, but 327 and 324 in AdjO and AdjD, respectively. Michigan ends its four game losing streak: a deep, deep Eagles bench can't save them as Michigan slows down the game, plays good defense against an abysmal Coppin State offense, and sneaks out (a strange phrase to use, but there we are) a 20-point win.
#5 Wisconsin (-8.5) @ California || 8pm, ESPN2
Huh. Potentially entertaining! The Bears play phenomenal defense (#25 AdjD), run a decent offense, and look to be OK slowing the game down to opponents' levels (reference the Golden Bears' 45-42 win over Wyoming). While they shoot well and score enough (especially in their 73-59 win over then-#23 Syracuse), the Bears lack a shooter outside Tyrone Wallace (50.6 FG%, 50 3pt%) to challenge the Badgers. Senior 6'10" F David Kravish will struggle to contain Frank Kaminsky outside, and the Badgers should grind one out on the Left Coast by at least 10.
Nebraska (-6.5) @ Hawaii || Midnight, ESPNU
I scratched my head a few times when I realized Nebraska was actually heading out to Hawaii until I realized that this is part of something called the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic [bracket], where they'll take on the Warriors to play the winner of Loyola-Marymount and Wichita State [with Ohio/GWU and DePaul/Colorado on the opposite side] in what should be an exciting second-round matchup if seeds hold. In effect, let's just agree that we're looking ahead to that, huh? The Cornhuskers' offensive woes (#200 Kenpom, 43.4 FG%, 11.2 apg) has led them into some ugly losses to Rhode Island, Creighton, and Incarnate Word, along with an ugly 2OT home win against Cincinnati.
While Terran Pettaway has shown his usual scoring ability, he still has the tendency to be an offensive black hole, shooting 41.1% from the field and 32.8% from deep. Shavon Shields, when he gets into the lane, is doing good things (17.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg), but after him, no Husker averages over 6.7 ppg, despite six of them playing at least 15 minutes. That's not a good offensive strategy, running everything through two players, one of whom doesn't shoot all that well. Tim Miles will need to cue up the defense for the Huskers, because if the Warriors' junior G Roderick Bobbitt or sophomore G Aaron Valdes can harass Pettaway, this could be a long day for the Huskers. They escape, I think, but barely.
What I Want:
Northwestern to win. Screw the rest of you.
What I Expect:
10-1, to be honest. I don't know who drops the game (Nebraska seems possible, Penn State unlikely, Northwestern and Wisconsin ugly), but someone will.
Burn Mattresses in the Streets If:
8-3 happens. But you already burned your mattress on Saturday. Don't waste this new one.
Enjoy your Monday, everyone. Answer the poll, be sure to cue up the games on BTN2Go and ESPN3 so you don't get any work done, and open thread it all here! Usual rules apply.