What a week. Everyone played this week so far except for Iowa in pre-season tournaments and/or their own “challenges” they’ve apparently made up (Indiana, Minnesota, Rutgers). There is definitely some surprising events this week that could shake up the pre-season outlook on a few teams, so let’s take a look and then preview a busy weekend in B1G hoops:
Maryland 77, Stony Brook 63
Barclays Center Classic
Maryland took on Stony Brook in the “campus” game of the Barclays Center Classic that concludes this weekend, winning handily but never pulling away until the very end. Melo Trimble did his thing scoring most of his points from the FT line along with shooting 50% from 3 point range while Dion Wiley signaled his return by draining 4 of 6 three’s he took.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Rutgers 66, North Texas 53
Scarlet Knight Classic
Rutgers needed a second half surge and a double-double from Deshawn Freeman (13 pts, 15 rebounds) to beat North Texas. Rutgers is now 5-0 on the season and Top 3 in the nation in rebounding. Is this really happening? Nah, they’ve played no one.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State 72, Colgate 59
Penn State didn’t have a pre-season tournament this week so they resumed cupcake season with Colgate. Penn State was in control of the game but never put Colgate completely away as three Penn State players scored in double figures to propel them to the win. I still can’t get a read on this team, they played Duke very close (against their starters) but then do things like this where they should have won by 20.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State 66, Western Carolina 38
Ohio State 78, Jackson State 47
Global Sports Invitational (both games)
Ohio State is running the table with the Global Sports Invitational, which is most certainly going to hurt their RPI this year. They may have been better off not playing this tournament and scheduling better tune up games, but either way Jae’Sean Tate put up 14 and 11 against Western Carolina with Bates-Diop out and Jaquan Lyle went for the PG double-double of 10pts and 11 assists in teh win over Jackson State. There is nothing to make of this week for them.
#24 Michigan State Spartans
#24 MSU 73, St. Johns 62
#24 MSU 58, #20 Baylor 73
Battle 4 Atlantis
So, um, apparently MSU’s young team feels so defeated after their first few games that Izzo apologized to them. I don’t know what that is about because they’ll need to deal with this schedule in conference play and beyond but he’s much more accomplished than I am. Miles Bridges dropped 22 and 15 against St. Johns along with three 3’s but the Miles Bridges show wasn’t enough to beat Baylor, who held the remainder of Spartan starters in check and under 10 points. Johnathon Motley scored 26 against MSU, who had no answer for him. The young team will continue to grow as they gel together but needing a coaches apology shouldn’t be something they need.
#25 Michigan Wolverines
#25 Michigan 46, South Carolina 61
Tough week for teams from Michigan. Michigan as a team shot AWFUL as reflected in their score. There isn’t much you can do when you can’t hit the broadside of a barn against a decent opponent. Perhaps this game will bring Michigan back down to earth after their impressive first few wins and they’ll continue to impress.
Northwestern 77, #22 Texas 58
Northwestern 66, Notre Dame 70
That was very impressive by Northwestern but also a story of two players. Bryant McIntosh scored 20 against Texas and Dererk Pardon dropped 10pt and 11 rebounds to grab Northwestern a Top 25 win. Conversely, against Notre Dame in the Legends Classic final Bryant McIntosh was 3 for 18 from the floor and Coach Collins decided to call a ton of iso sets for him at the end of the game with a chance to win. MNWildcat believes he needs to go to Vic Law as the go-to scorer and McIntosh needs to focus more on distributing the ball.
#3 Indiana Hoosiers
#3 Indiana 68, Fort Wayne 71 (OT)
LOLOLOLOL. Fort Wayne deserved this win as Indiana came into this game obviously looking over them. Bryson Scott dropped 15 and 12 and John Konchar dropped 15 and 11 for Fort Wayne en route to the upset over the #3 Hoosiers. Indiana as a team shot 57.9% from the FT line and it arguably cost them the game amongst other issues as well (rebounding as well).
Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois 80, Winthrop 84 (OT)
Illinois 57, #19 West Virginia 89
NIT Season Tip-Off
Things are not looking good for Illinois. Deon Johnson appeared unguardable for Winthrop when he dropped 38 points, partly on a bum ankle in OT and left Coach John Groce attempting to defend his teams defense. Against WVU, literally every scholarship player on WVU scored against Illinois and only the walk ons were left with a goose egg on the board. Yikes.
#17 Purdue Boilermakers
#17 Purdue 85, Utah State 64
#17 Purdue 96, Auburn 71
Purdue won the Cancun Challenge with ease this week behind the play of Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas. Swanigan had two double-doubles and Haas joined in against Auburn behind dominant frontcourt play. Keep that up and they’ll be hard to beat in conference play and the rest of the season.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Minnesota 85, Arkansas 71
Golden Gopher Showcase
Amir Coffey scored all 19 points in the second half en route to the 14 point win over a very turnover prone Arkansas team. Minnesota looks competent this year with a full lineup and no off-court trouble bothering them. A 6-10 placing in the B1G looks likely for Minnesota barring a meltdown.
#11 Wisconsin Badgers
#11 Wisconsin 74, Tennessee 62
#11 Wisconsin 73, Georgetown 57
#11 Wisconsin 56, #4 UNC 71
Wisconsin played a triple-header this week with three games in three days. Nigel Hayes was impressive in the win over Tennessee with a double double and the hot-hand from three point range while Ethan Happ had 19pt/15rb against Georgetown when Hayes cooled off. Against #4 UNC, Wisconsin was both tired and had no answer inside for Kennedy Meeks, who finished with 15 boards and Hayes continued to shoot poorly for the second day in a row. Solid showing in Maui but there is definitely a need for a second player inside to complement Happ.
Nebraska 80, Dayton 78
Nebraska was impressive in its showing against Dayton but needed to hold off a strong second half run to ensure the win. The importance of free throw shooting was apparent in this game as two free throws in the final seconds ensured the win.
Illinois vs. #25 Florida State (-9)
NIT Pre-Season Tip-Off || 11:30am || ESPNU
The Seminoles (KP 41) lost a tight one to Temple, 89-86, in the first round of the NIT Pre-Season, but they should be able to get back on track against an Illinois team that, to put it kindly, fucking sucked against West Virginia in the opener.
Dwayne Bacon (mmmm) has been making the most of his managed minutes, pouring in 18.4 ppg on 53.2% shooting, while Jonathan Isaac has pulled down 6 boards a game for the Seminoles. Eventually the Fighting Illini (KP 83, now ranked lower than Illinois State) will have to get something going outside of Malcolm Hill (18.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg), and while Tracy Abrams and Michael Finke have been a fair supporting cast, there’s little to inspire confidence in picking the Illini, especially given their mediocre inside game.
The Illini’s best win so far is against KP #237 Northern Kentucky. Keep wasting that talent, John Groce.
Rutgers vs. Hartford
Scarlet Knight Showcase || 12pm || ESPN3
Man, Rutgers is gonna take home the title in this bullshit home invitational with a super-awesome win over super-tough Hartford (KP 334). I’m not gonna waste time on Rutgers previews until they play someone better than DePaul.
#24 Michigan State vs. Wichita State (-6)
Battle 4 Atlantic, 3rd Place Game || 12pm || ESPN2
Tom Izzo is now apologizing to his team for their difficult schedule. The 3-3 Spartans are still a very good team, but they’ve played themselves off a 1- or even 2-seed already, it appears. Miles Bridges (16.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg) just can’t do it all himself, and Eron Harris and Nick Ward, the only other Spartans averaging double-digits a game, hardly inspire much confidence. Size, additionally, will remain an issue for MSU all season.
Coming off a romp over LSU and a tight loss to #10 Louisville, the Shockers (KP 19) are one of the best defensive teams in the nation (KP 3). Only one Shocker (Markis McDuffie) averages over 10 ppg (he averages 11), but the next 9 players behind him all average at least 10 minutes per game and over 6.0 ppg. That’s depth right there, kids. Gregg Marshall’s put together a club again.
Look out for Austin Reeves, who’s picking up over a steal a game, but really just beware of the entire Wichita State roster because holy shit there are a lot of them and they just keep coming.
Northwestern vs. Bryant
1pm || BTN+
The Bulldogs (KP 298) should provide a nice opportunity for Bryant McIntosh to find where his shot went (he’s just 36% on the year) and for the ‘Cats to get back on track ahead of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Nisre Zouzoua (21.2 ppg), a 6’2” guard, should be able to pour some in for Bryant, but no Bulldog stands over 6’8”.
Look for the ‘Cats to work on their inside game, getting Dererk Pardon and Gavin Skelly going offensively while still giving Vic Law and Scottie Lindsey plenty of room to move. Otherwise nothing to see here, just Northwestern playing teams which won’t help this be The Year at all.
Iowa vs. #7 Virginia (-11.5)
Emerald Coast Classic || 6pm || CBSSN
Oof. A year ago, I’d take this game any time. This year? I don’t trust the Hawkeyes to be able to impose their tempo (AdjT 12) against the Cavaliers (AdjD 2, AdjT 350) and their vaunted pack-line defense. Even without Austin Nichols, the ‘Hoos have been a tough customer as usual, allowing over 40 (!!!) points just once (!!!) this year. Marial Shayok is putting up a dozen a game, and three Virginia players are over 5 boards a night. Iowa’s going to have to shoot the lights out over and around Virginia to get this one done.
Just tune in to watch Peter Jok (24.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg) single-handedly shoot the Hawks back into this game, OK? If Fran can somehow convince the officials that yes, Virginia does foul you about every time down the court, Iowa can make this one close into the second half.
Ohio State (-12) vs. Marshall
Global Sports Invitational || 6pm || BTN
Is Marshall (KP 117) good? I don’t know.
Is Ohio State (KP 27) good? I don’t know.
Jon Elmore has been all things for the Herd (19.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 5.8 apg), and he’ll be fun to watch by himself as Marshall gets out and pushes the pace on Ohio State’s ball-control offense. If the Buckeyes settle in and keep their bullshit home-tourney momentum going, they should ease past Marshall, but if Dan D’Antoni (brother of the Michigan State football coach) can get his club to run a little bit and Ohio State’s turnover problems recur, look for this one to stay close late.
Minnesota (-16) vs. Southern Illinois
Golden Gopher Showcase || 7pm || BTN+
The Gophers are looking good, having blown out a P5 opponent in Arkansas and continuing to play much more solidly on defense than I’d originally expected from them (AdjD 67).
The Salukis (KP 178) are generally not good overall, though the Gophers are liable to like G Mike Rodriguez have himself a day shooting and distributing the ball.
Maryland (-6.5) vs. Richmond
Barclays Center Classic || 8:30pm || MASN
Alright, no. The Barclays Center just hosted the Legends Classic. They get TWO classics? I call bullshit. Someone end this charade immediately.
The Spiders (KP 100) will provide a good opening-round test for the Terps, as they like to grind games out but be efficient on offense. ShawnDre’ Jones is putting up almost 20 ppg for Richmond and TJ Cline is kicking out 5.5 assists a game to go with his 17 points, who should make some noise again in the A10, but Richmond runs a very short bench and doesn’t have much after Jones and Cline. I’ll take Melo Trimble and Justin Jackson to win those individual matchups. Michael Cekovsky has a day inside and the Terrapins escape again.
Nebraska vs. #14 UCLA
Wooden Legacy || 10:59pm || ESPN2
So...10:59pm, huh? That’s...unique, I guess. Good work, DirecTV and ESPN.
The Fightin’ Alfords (KP #23) bring a strong front line, with F TJ Leaf close to a double-double per game at 19 ppg and 9.8 rpg. Coming off a big win over Dayton, the Cornhuskers (KP #74) will need continued strong play out of Tai Webster (17.2 ppg), but more importantly they’ll need the efforts of all three of Glynn Watson Jr, Jack McVeigh, and Ed Morrow, as the Bruins push the pace (AdjT #10) and score a lot (AdjO #7). Morrow’s been a revelation on the boards this season, never collecting fewer than 6 boards in a game and grabbing his first double-double (19 and 10) against the Flyers last night.
He’ll be tested by not only Leaf but also Thomas Welsh (11.2 ppg, 9.4 rpg). When you have six players scoring in double-digits, though, you’ve got weapons galore, and when Bryce Alford is pouring in 18 points a game and shooting 17/32 from deep, you’ve got more than enough to handle Nebrasketball. Bruins should roll, but another hot night from the Huskers will have people believing they can turn their season toward the NIT.
More previews for the weekend as we’re able! Use this as your basketball open thread; usual rules apply.
-MNW and DJ Carver