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Big Ten stumbles early in the Gavitt Games

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Should we be concerned about 0-2 Michigan State?

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Purdue Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Three ranked teams, three losses. It wasn’t an ideal start to the Gavitt Games for the Big Ten, as both Purdue and wisconsin fell to higher-ranked opponents. On the non-conference front, Sparty will need to regroup after being BTFO by a very good Kentucky club. Oh, and Maryland won. They’re pretty excited about that.

Monday

#3 Villanova 79, #15 Purdue 76

This was just a fun goddamn game, huh? Mackey was rocking for the defending champs’ visit, a half-court shot before half sent us into the break at 39-all, and Purdue was in it until the last shot. The Wildcats opened up an 11-point lead at the under-16 timeout in the second half and while Purdue cut the lead to 1 what felt like a dozen times, the Boilers fell just short on missed threes by Caleb Swanigan and Carsen Edwards in the last 5 seconds.

Isaac Haas just has to stay on the floor for the Boilers if they’re going to make noise against teams like Villanova. The junior, already playing sparingly with 2 fouls, committed an absolutely boneheaded foul on a driving ‘Nova guard relatively early in the first half. Despite being behind the 8-ball, the center rebounded to drop 22 points on 8/10 shooting. Swanigan had another 20 points and 8 boards for the Boilermakers, and Vince Edwards dropped 8 of Purdue’s impressive 26 assists on their 28 made baskets. Good stuff from the Boilers going forward.

Ohio State 69, North Carolina Central 64

I didn’t watch any of this game but that does not look like an ideal result against an overmatched (KP #274) team. Jae’Sean Tate had 21 and 10 for the Buckeyes, who overcame a bad game from Marc Loving (3 pts, 5 TOs) and cold shooting from deep (28.6%).

Northwestern 86, Eastern Washington 72

Vic Law is baaaack and he’s got his scoring touch: the redshirt sophomore dropped 26 on the Eagles. Eastern Washington kept pace thanks to a strong effort by Bogdan Bliznyuk, who took advantage of sloppy ‘Cats defense to add 25 of his own. Not a lot to be gleaned here—the Wildcats never trailed against an undermanned opponent.

Of more concern is the development of the Johnnie Vassar lawsuit against the school and the NCAA. Vassar, a highly-touted recruit who was recruited and later run off the team by Collins, has sued the school for its handling of his situation and the NCAA over the transfer rule. There are some uglier moments for Collins in the full complaint, but I don’t see this ending (as of right now) in more than a couple bureaucrats losing their jobs. There’s been a culture shift at Northwestern under the former Duke assistant, but we’re not at the stage of overly-concerned hand-wringing just yet.

Minnesota 84, UT-Arlington 67

Trailing at half to a feisty Mavericks squad, the Gophers got 10 second-half points from wunderkind Amir Coffey and used a 16-0 run over 6 minutes of play to bury UT-Arlington. Minnesota’s shooting woes from outside continue (17.4% against the Mavs and 29% on the season), but the Gophers have the athletes to finally start making a push under Richard Pitino.

After a date with Mount St. Mary’s, the Gophers move into the challenging stretch of their non-conference schedule, as St. John’s, Arkansas, and Florida State all loom in the coming weeks. We’ll know more about them then.

Tuesday

#2 Kentucky 69, #13 Michigan State 48

Woof. Meet Malik Monk, huh?

No Spartan scored in double digits as they shot under 20% from deep on 26 attempts, and the stifling Wildcats defense harassed Miles Bridges into 9 turnovers and 2/11 shooting (though he did pull down 12 boards).

The less said about this, the better. Kentucky is a hell of a team, and Monk had his coming out party, scoring a third of the Wildcats’ points. But things don’t get much easier for the Spartans—three cupcakes and then a date with #1 Duke awaits Tom Izzo’s club, which could use some time getting out and pushing the pace against larger teams.

#22 Creighton 79, #9 wisconsin 67

A 29-17 Creighton advantage over the last 9:00 of play was enough for them to pull away from wisconsin in Omaha. The badgers wasted 10 rebounds from Ethan Happ and 21 points from Bronson Koenig, as depth looks to be an issue in madison—only Alex Illikanen and Jordan Hill saw considerable minutes off the bench, and they combined to go 2/10 shooting.

The badgers struggled from the field, held to just 28.2% from deep by the Jays, who went 8/16 from downtown, and turned the ball over 16 times, including 4 each from Happ, Koenig, and Vitto Brown. In all there’s no shame in a road loss to an apparently-good Creighton team, though we saw Tuesday night how good teams can exploit wisconsin’s reliance on the deep ball and lack of depth.

Maryland 76, Georgetown 75

Down 7 with under a minute to go, the Terrapins got a three from Kevin Huerter, Justin Jackson made a layup with :29 to go, and two missed Isaac Copeland free throws got Maryland the ball back down 5. Two Anthony Cowan free throws got Maryland within 3, and then they forced two Georgetown turnovers in :11 to take the lead on two Melo Trimble free throws with :07.

From there, Huerter came up with the defensive play of the game:

On the whole, cause for concern among the Terp faithful no doubt temporarily gave way to some euphoria over finding a way to get the win over the rival Hoyas. Maryland buckled down late and overcame 32 team fouls (24 called on G’town) and 25.9% 3pt shooting. The Terrapins are way too reliant on Trimble, who’s scoring 32% of the team’s points through two games, but if that allows them to get their freshmen’s feet wet, all the better. Look for the freshman Canuck, Justin Jackson the Ball-Carrier to step into that role. He had 17 and 7 for the Terps.

Penn State 85, Grand Canyon 76

Lamar Stevens is driving the Penn State bus these days (17.7 ppg and 5.0 rpg), dropping another 18 on the Antelopes as Penn State pulled away in the second half. The Nittany Lions had an efficient day from the field (42.1% from deep) as Darion Clark went wild on them but a strong team defensive effort held GCU’s shooting under 40%.

Nebraska 70, University of Mary 38

Illinois 112, McKendree 65

These were games that happened.


We’ll have tonight’s previews and an open thread up later in the afternoon, so stay tuned for those!