Coming off an even split the first night, the Big Ten was looking to put some distance between itself and the ACC in the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge, where the Big Ten has kept the trophy if you will the past six years. So how'd the Big Ten do? Split the games of course! The Big Ten went 3-3 last night, taking the challenge to an even split of 4-4 going into the final night.
Northwestern 81, Virginia Tech 79 (OT)
MNWildcat - Last night at halftime one of the commentators asked "Who do you think this up-tempo game favors more: Northwestern or Virginia Tech?" The answer was without a doubt Northwestern. And that terrifies the fuck out of me. But perhaps we're standing on the precipice of a new generation of 'Cats basketball. Bryant MacIntosh was ridiculous again--he hit a contested three off the dribble and a layup with his momentum going the other way to give Northwestern its last five points of the game and an 81-79 win. Dude just straight balled out.
He got help from Tre Demps on a predictably Tre Dempsian night (8/21 from the field, 1/9 from deep, but 4 assists, 6 boards, and playing scrappy ball on the wing). But Northwestern needs a third and maybe fourth source of scoring to make that happen. Last night it was definitely not Alex Olah or Joey Van Zegeren, the former of whom was a non-factor, negated by VaTech's size and athleticism, and the latter of whom cannot resist setting moving screens and fouling anything in front of him.
No, last night it was "glue guy" (a term I'd been understanding that meant we should take'em out back like a horse that charges all over the place and can't play offense) Sanjay Lumpkin, who went for 12 and 7, including a huge three in overtime. I don't even know how to handle his competence. It's...baffling. Lumpkin's effort was abetted by Super-Efficient Three-Point Monster Nathan Taphorn, who was capable enough on defense to merit keeping him on the floor, where he poured in 11 points on 3/5 shooting from deep.
Most importantly, Northwestern went on the road, got a win against a P5 team, and looking halfway competent doing it. Their offense, especially out of the 1-4 high set, allows Tre Demps to move off the ball and Bryant MacIntosh to dip and dart around high screens. That's the offense that created the most chaos and open looks, which the 'Cats thrived on. The defensive side of the ball was no bueno (VaTech hit the offensive glass at a 33% OReb rate, compared with 22% for Northwestern) and allowed Maryland transfer Seth Allen to have a field day, but the 'Cats did enough to win. It's still not The Year, but damn if a win like that doesn't show this team's potential to play really, really good ball.
Miami 77, Nebraska 72 (OT)
Jesse Collins - Nebraska did not, in fact, win by seven last night, although the five point loss was as close to a moral victory as they can come. Despite being beat up on the block all night, Nebraska took a good Miami team into overtime and Shavon Shields put on a clinic. 28 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals led the charge, and with Tai Webster relegated to the bench with around five minutes left after fouling out, it was the freshman Glynn Watson Jr. who came out firing. The kid does not shy away from the big stage and nailed a game-tying 3 with a man on him with about 15 seconds left in regulation. He's gonna be a good one, and if Nebraska stays as balanced as they were last night - offensively - they will be a tough out every night.
That said, Nebraska made some really dumb mistakes in defensive transition, and we did not have an answer for their inside-out game. But shooting .500 from 3 and a reasonable 42.2% while limiting a very high powered Miami offense to its least efficient game this season is a step in the right direction. I wish we weren't 0-3 against Top 25 teams, but we've looked competitive in two of them, and were competitive for stretches in the other. I was with my buddy David McGee - CornNation photog - last night and he said this has all the trappings of a NIT team. I can live with that.
Michigan 66, NC State 59
Graham Filler - How do you know when the Michigan defense is working? Opposing teams are shooting contested deep balls and driving into throngs of defenders. We saw both of these things happen last night. And then hot three point shooting from Duncan "I'm the next Nic Stauskas" Robinson. And no, we say that not because he's white, but because he's an amazing long range bomber.
4-17 on threes from NC State? Check.
Back breaking fast break scores in the 2nd half? Check.
Michigan win? Check.
#11 Purdue 72, Pittsburgh 59
Babaoreally - Purdue went into Pitt without Raphael Davis, got and blew a big lead, and pulled away at the end for a 72-59 win. After a big 24 point performance, Isaac Haas barely played due to some early foul trouble and because there was no reason to take AJ Hammons out of the game. After building up a large early lead (17 at one point), Pitt came back by sinking into a zone and watching Purdue miss outside shots. In the second half, Purdue's ball movement was better and Hammons made some great post moves and shots. It remained a close game until late in the half, when Freshman Ryan Cline decided to start nailing threes. Cline got a chance for a few more minutes due to the Davis injury; he earned a few more by hitting four bombs in the second half.
#10 Virginia 64, Ohio State 58
DJ Carver: GF3 doesn't watch the shootyhoops, so I'll take this one. I think I said yesterday that in order to beat Virginia, Ohio State must make someone else other than Malcolm Brogdon score. I'm not sure what part of that wasn't clear, but OSU gave up 22 points to Brogdon and in that, Virginia had there go to scorer. Ohio State got solid contributions from there starters, but only 7 points from their bench and a mysterious only 4 minutes played from Kam Williams. I don't pretend to know if there is a reason why, so enlighten me if there is OSU fans.
This game looks close, but in reality when Virginia is still beating you without their starting PG and only a combined 26 points from four of five starters, there are issues. This is the fourth loss in a row for OSU and I'm not sure where they turn to here. They have flashes where they look very good in the game, but then they immediately remind you how young there team is afterwards.
#9 UNC 89, #2 Maryland 81
DJ: I'll start this the same way: Yesterday I said that in order for Maryland to beat UNC they would need to contain the inside game of UNC and force good guard play to beat them. I'm not sure what part of 37 points, 16 rebounds, 6 assists, and NINE steals they didn't understand, but that is the stat line just the starting forwards of UNC put up. Let's not forget the 13/13 line from the bench post players they received as well.
Oh, but that's just one point of what you said? Well, Maryland also gave up the ball TWENTY TWO times, 22. 12 of those turnovers were in the first 12 minutes of the game. They dug their own grave with that and spent the remainder of the game clawing their way back out. After Maryland settled down at the under 8 TV timeout they looked much more the part of a Top 10 team in the country and put on some entertaining basketball in the late first and entire second half. At the end of the day, even with 23/12 from Melo and 18 points from Rasheed Sulaimon, it wasn't enough to overcome the turnover problem that plagued them in the first half and Maryland lost the game 89-81.
#24 Louisville at #3 Michigan State (-5.5) || 7:15pm ET || ESPN
Louisville: 5-0, Kenpom #11
Michigan State: 7-0, Kenpom #7
Maryland couldn't hold up their end of the bargain Sparty, so it's up to you to do so. We're all on Denzel Valentine triple-double watch, and if he can do that and assert himself early MSU might blow this one out of the water. No one really knows what to expect from Louisville as they only return one starter from last season and there top two scorers are senior grad transfers.
Wisconsin at #14 Syracuse (-4.5) || 7:15pm ET || ESPN2
Wisconsin: 4-3, Kenpom #37
Syracuse: 6-0, Kenpom #27
All I have for this is that this matchup looked much better before Wisconsin started playing basketball games this year. Syracuse's 2-3 zone could pose major problems for the plethora of young players on Wisconsin and only giving 4.5 points seems generous. Prove me wrong Wisconsin.
Penn State at Boston College (-1) || 7:15pm ET || ESPNU
Penn State: 3-2, Kenpom #182
Boston College: 3-3, Kenpom #193
-1 is more of a toss up game to me, but an O/U of 134 (67 per team) seems generous when Penn State only averages 63 a game and Boston College can't manage 50 points against Santa Clara. This could be ugly to watch.
Indiana at #7 Duke (-10) || 9:15pm ET || ESPN
Indiana: 5-2, Kenpom #26
Duke: 6-1, Kenpom #5
You want scoring? You'll get scoring here. Duke looked overpowered the last time they played anyone of note, losing soundly to Kentucky the other week. Indiana? They lost to....Wake Forest. Yep, that Wake Forest that only beat Rutgers by 1. On the bright side? Indiana can absolutely light it up on offense, fine tuning themselves on Monday to a tune of a 112-70 win. The interesting matchup will be Yogi Ferrell vs. Grayson Allen and Thomas Bryant vs. Amile Jefferson, but Indiana has proven any of their players can put up points, so hey if you aren't going to win at least it'll be entertaining.
Notre Dame at Illinois (+2.5) || 9:15pm ET || ESPN2
Notre Dame: 4-2, Kenpom #29
Illinois: 3-4, Kenpom #82
Which Illinois team shows up? Probably not the good one, but we can wish when they play Notre Dame. Most likely this is going to lead to entertaining drunken rants from our fantastic Illinois writer, and I cannot wait.
Florida State at Iowa (-5) || 9:15pm ET || ESPNU
Florida State: 4-1, Kenpom #38
Iowa: 4-2, Kenpom #21
If Notre Dame wasn't in the Illinois game, this game would be on ESPN2. Florida State has an amazing freshman, Dwayne Bacon, who not only has bacon in his name but can also put up the points. Iowa will need to contain him and force others to step up if they want to win this game. In unusual fashion, FSU's strength is there guard play this year when it's usually their post play leading the way.
That's it! Normal game thread rules: no illegal streams, no illicit photos/videos/etc, and don't be a jackwagon. Enjoy!