#5 Wisconsin 74, Iowa 63
The Hawkeyes shot 57% from deep and 48% from the field, but an inability to keep the Badgers off the offensive glass (allowing a 47% OReb rate while only attaining a 26% one yourselves isn't good, Iowabros) and away from the free throw line (where the Badgers hit 20 of 26 for an 81% clip) doomed the hosts in Iowa City. Frank Kaminsky poured in 24, shooting 50% from the field and from deep while getting to the line for 9 FTs, though his performance did leave something to be desired. I might get blasted for it, but I wasn't entirely impressed by Kaminsky's offense, especially when an athletic center with similar size like Gabe Olaseni played solid, body-on defense in the post. Nonetheless, Horse Face stretches defenses in a way that allowed Nigel Hayes and Sam Dekker in particular to get to the rim. Not that Iowa's D helped at points...
Seriously. Bad defense, Hawkeyes.
Illinois 60, Penn State 58
I watched the second half of this one. Why? I don't know. With the suspensions of Rayvonte Rice and Aaron Cosby, the Illini are nigh-unwatchable. It helps, of course, that Penn State has been working on nigh-unwatchable for, like, ...how long has Talor Battle been gone?
Either way, while DJ Newbill did work (20 points), Malcolm Hill had the answer for the Illini, even down to the last play: Hill's layup rattled home, while Newbill's last-second attempt rattled out. Hill, meanwhile, upped his scoring average to 14.6 ppg, dropping 27 on 10/15 shooting, including 4/5 from deep. Unfortunately, it looks like Illinois is going to struggle to replace Cosby and Rice: everyone on the team not named Hill combined for 33 points on 10/38 shooting. Special wag of the finger goes to Kendrick Nunn, dropping 10 points on 2/14 shooting. Also, Nnanna Egwu is not a good center. That is all.
#22 Indiana 72, Rutgers 64
I've been told this game happened. Rutgers just didn't have the depth to run with Indiana: all five starters for the Scarlet Knights played at least 34 minutes, and no bench player scored for Rutgers, though Myles Mack dropped 24 points and 8 assists. Meanwhile, Indiana ran eight players for at least 15 minutes, using sophomore forward Troy Williams' height to dominate the boards (Williams scored 14 and pulled down 12). Oh yeah, and that James Blackmon, Jr. kid is pretty good, too. He had 20 and 5 boards on 8/16 shooting. Ho hum.
Minnesota 60, Nebraska 42
In one of the most narrative-confirming games of the year, these two teams played a game that was reportedly basketball. Everything that continues to be wrong with the Huskers is: they can't shoot (37% FG, 20% 3pt), they turn the ball over too much (20! Seriously!), and they rely on chuckers like Shavon Shields (4/15 FG, 1/7 3pt). That didn't work well on Saturday night. Nebraska had no answer inside for Mo Walker, who went for 19 and 8 boards, or the Gophers' full-court defense and zone which dared the Huskers to shoot. The book's written on how to beat Nebraska: we'll see if the rest of the Big Ten reads it.
Meanwhile, the Gophers have won 3 of their last 5, which is at least something, and need to right the ship in a hurry: after hosting Purdue this Saturday, road dates with Iowa and #22 Indiana await Minnesota on a stretch in which the Gophers travel for 4 out of 5 games, only hosting Northwestern before heading off to #5 Wisconsin and Michigan State. It won't surprise me to see Minnesota 4-12 in the Big Ten by March...and a 5-13 finish looks well within the realm of possibility. Little Richard's honeymoon may be over in the Twin Cities.
Purdue 68, Northwestern 60
Matt Painter has finally figured out how to use his team: pound, pound, pound inside, don't let your guards shoot from outside unless they reaaaaally have to, and play smothering man defense with your athletes. The Boilermakers stifled Alex Olah inside, getting him, Gavin Skelly, and Jeremiah Kreisberg all into foul trouble and holding them to 4/13 shooting and 5 rebounds combined. Meanwhile, AJ Hammons is coming into his own, going for 16 points and 9 boards on a less-athletic Northwestern team. Isaac Haas did his damage too, going for 10 in just 11 minutes, while Rapheal Davis got to the rim for 15 and Jon Octeus got to the line, shooting 8/10 on free throws en route to 14 himself. Don't look now, but the Boilers stand at 6-3 in the Big Ten and have a forgiving schedule of Minnesota, Rutgers, and Nebraska up after a test at Ohio State on Wednesday.
This game just continues to confirm the issues Northwestern will face: while freshman PG Bryant McIntosh is good, he can't carry this team by himself. He went for 18 on 7/12 shooting, but Tre Demps' maddening inefficiency continues to plague the guards (he shot 6/18), and the team goes cold for long stretches in which only McIntosh can create his own shot. Part of that stems from Chris Collins' system: the 'Cats are designed to drive-and-dish if they can't get the ball inside to Olah for an inside-out game. Purdue locked down the latter, smothered the former with aggression on high pick-and-rolls, and ran away from the 'Cats in the second half. Northwestern simply is not athletic enough (and not developed enough--freshmen Vic Law and Scottie Lindsey are good, but still limited) to handle teams that attack them. It will be a long February for the 'Cats, who travel to Nebraska before taking on #5 Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Iowa in succession.
Michigan State 76, Michigan 66 (OT)
Something called Max Bielfeldt nearly pulled the Wolverines through this one. The backup junior forward came off the bench to score 7 and pull down 9 boards, doing the hard job of keeping the Spartans off the offensive glass. He didn't entirely succeed: Michigan State pulled down 13 offensive boards (good for a 37% OReb rate), getting Denzel Valentine (25 pts, 7 reb), Matt Costello (10 pts, 7 reb), and Branden Dawson (19 pts, 10 reb) into the lane at will to disrupt the Wolverines. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman paced Michigan, going off in the second half for 18 on 8/14 shooting, though he and Spike Albrecht (18 on 6/13 himself) couldn't find a way to keep the bigger Spartans at bay.
Oh, and not being able to score in OT is bad, Michigan. Just a heads-up.
Michigan State 2, Michigan 1
At something called the "Duel in the D" (/giggle), Sparty ended a 7-game losing streak against the Wolverines. Michigan State's outstanding goalie Jake Hildebrand had 29 saves in the win, stopping 13 in the final period to hold off a Wolverines rally after Matt DeBlouw put the Spartans ahead for good early in the period. Michigan will try to get their revenge outdoors next Saturday in the Hockey City Classic at Soldier Field.
Minnesota 7, Wisconsin 5
Anyone know what's happened to Adam Wilcox? Jeez. Thirteen Gophers netted points in this one, as a 4-goal second put the Gophers ahead for good.
Penn State 4, #14 Vermont 2
The Nittany Lions used 4 unanswered goals to vault past the Catamounts, scoring three times in the third period to complete the comeback win. In just his fourth decision of the year, senior goaltender PJ Musico (2-1-1) stopped 33 Vermont shots to seal it for Penn State.
Wisconsin 4, Minnesota 4 (OT, 3-2 shootout win for WI)
Seriously, was there just no defense in this one? Five third-period goals combined between the two teams locked the game at 4 after Seth Ambroz found the back of the net for the Maroon and Gold with just :02 left in regulation. If anyone has video of that, please post it. What a phenomenal finish. Overtime ended in a tie, whereupon Wisconsin beat Minnesota 3-2 in a shootout. Joel Rumpel did yeoman's work for the Badgers, stopping 42 shots and one in the shootout to secure a second point for the last-place Badgers. Minnesota, meanwhile, with 12, still sits 4 points behind Penn State and Michigan State, while everyone's looking up at Michigan (7-2-0, 21 pts).
Wrestling (of note)
*rankings mostly InterMat. I think. I'm just trying to cover my bases here.
#1 Iowa 23, #2 Minnesota 12
Check out RossWB's excellent recap at Black Heart Gold Pants for full details.
#4 Ohio State 23, #23 Rutgers 17
Big come-from-behind win for the Buckeyes, who save themselves the embarrassment of being Rutgers' first big B1G scalp. Ohio State won 4 of the last 5 matches, 3 by tech fall.
#5 Penn State 35, Michigan State 0
#5 Penn State 19, #17 Michigan 15
#10 Nebraska 25, #22 Northwestern 11
Pierce Harger, Mike McMullan, and Jason Tsirtsis are good. The rest of Northwestern is not so good. The end.