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Big wins for Purdue, NU, Illinois; Indiana and Michigan State falter

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Did we learn anything about Big Ten basketball this weekend?

NCAA Basketball: Crossroads Classic-Purdue at Notre Dame Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

B1G Talking Points:

  • With the completion of the Crossroads Classic, Purdue and Butler have laid their claims to being the best team in Indiana. What a lineup of games.
  • Speaking of, you might want a rotation deeper than six, Indiana.
  • Yes, UCLA is good, but Ohio State showed their defense is going to cause a lot of problems for less athletic teams in the Big Ten. Still gotta get those threes going, though.
  • Iowa proved they’re the best team in the state, bullshit Cyclone bluster notwithstanding.
  • Michigan and least chewed and swallowed their cupcake, while Nebraska and Michigan State somehow managed to choke, vomit, and then shit themselves in sequence.
  • It’s official: Northwestern basketball is going to spend this season attempting to take multiple years off my life.
  • It’s still not The Year, though. Those leads will get blown badly in the Big Ten.
  • Will the NIT save Jim Groce’s job? The Illini look like they’ll be there at this rate.
  • In a less-inspiring repeat of the Chicago Legends Classic, Penn State and Rutgers combined to show what bad teams should do to even terrible teams.

Saturday

#15 Purdue 86, #21 Notre Dame 81

Caleb Swanigan came up big for the Boilermakers against Notre Dame, exploiting the Irish inside for 26 points and 10 rebounds, as Purdue (9-2, KP 13) overcame a 16-point deficit to take the lead on a Ryan Cline three midway through the second half, holding off the 22 points and 10 assists of Matt Farrell to take the opening game of the Crossroads Classic.

Bonzie Colson got his for the Notre Dame (9-2, KP 22), pacing the Irish with 21 points and 10 boards, but Purdue dominated the offensive glass, with an efficient 38.9% OReb%, out-rebounding the Irish 40-30. Vince Edwards came off the bench to add a double-double (20 and 10) for the Boilermakers, who spread the scoring around despite a poor showing (6 and 2) from Isaac Haas. Instead it was a smaller lineup for the Matt Painter’s squad, with Swanigan-Edwards making up the frontcourt, that got the job done for Purdue.

#2 UCLA 86, Ohio State 73

Marc Loving had 18 points and 6 boards for the Buckeyes, but after briefly leading late in the first half, Ohio State (8-3, KP 37) couldn’t contend with the overwhelming firepower of UCLA (12-0, KP 9). Aaron Holiday came off the bench to pitch in 20 for the Bruins in Las Vegas.

Bryce Alford’s 20 points paced the Bruins, who forced 18 Ohio State turnovers and beat the Buckeyes on the glass. Trevor Thompson grabbed 8 boards for the Buckeyes but couldn’t settle in on the block, scoring just 4 points, turning the ball over 4 times, and never looking settled as the Buckeyes moved the ball around the arc and rarely got good inside touches.

That seems like the key to beating UCLA, especially while center Thomas Welsh is out—work the ball inside and play ball-hawking defense on the wings to deny the dribble-penetration for as long as you can. That worked for Ohio State for long enough, but ultimately it couldn’t stem the baby blue tide.

#18 Butler 83, Indiana 78

Kelan Martin dropped 28 points, Andrew Chrabascz chipped in 14 of his own, and the Bulldogs (10-1, KP 17) held off a furious late challenge from the Hoosiers (8-2, KP 16) to take the second game of the Crossroads Classic.

Despite dominating the glass, grabbing 42 rebounds (16 offensive) to Butler’s 26 (6 offensive), Indiana struggled from distance (6/21), and Martin (9/16 from the field, 5/9 from deep) couldn’t miss. One positive development for Indiana was the Hoosiers’ unleashing of OG Anunoby in the second half—while he only scored 7 points, the sophomore from Missouri grabbed 7 boards and looked confident on his injured ankle. That’ll be big for Indiana as they enter Big Ten play. In the meantime, there’s no shame in losing to a good Butler team.

Michigan 98, Maryland-Eastern Shore 49

Michigan (9-3, KP 28) got 21 from Derrick Walton, Jr., and despite yielding 11 offensive rebounds, shot 65% from the field and 57% from deep to blow out the Hawks (1-10, KP 334). Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman kicked in 10 assists off the bench. Move along.

Iowa 69, Northern Iowa 46

Peter Jok returned home to Des Moines, kicking in a workmanlike 21 and 8 as the Iowa defense turned up for a change as the Hawkeyes (6-5, KP 68) blew out the Panthers (5-5, KP 86) in the Hy-Vee Classic.

The slow-’em-down Northern Iowa offense could never get started, shooting just 27% from the field and 23% from deep, getting 26 of their 46 points from Jeremy Morgan, Spencer Halderman, and Wyatt Lohaus. The rest of the Panthers club combined for 10 points on 4/21 shooting.

In addition to using their length and athleticism to stymie the UNI offense, the Hawkeyes got 11 points and 11 boards in 28 minutes off the bench from Nicholas Baer, while Jordan Bohannon dished out 6 assists of his own. It remains to be seen whether the Peter Jok Show can sustain the Hawkeyes through the Big Ten season, but improved defense from his supporting cast should help keep the Hawkeyes in more games.

Northwestern 67, Dayton 64

Northwestern opened up a 36-12 lead late in the first half and cruised to an easy victory over Dayton in its home pro arena.

LOL JUST KIDDING OF COURSE NOTHING’S THAT EASY.

In front of a raucously pro-Dayton crowd (apparently the Flyer Faithful are the best-traveling crowd in the NCAA?) at the United Center, Northwestern (9-2, KP 46) did jump all over Dayton (9-3, KP 40) in the first half, taking a 40-17 lead into the half before Dayton made back 20 of those in the second half behind Scoochie Smith’s 18 points. The Flyers crawled back to close it to 4 a number of times in the last minute, getting Northwestern turnovers and missed free throws to aid them, but a couple late free throws salted it away in the last two seconds after Northwestern once again showed its tenuous-at-best relationship with a press-break.

Sanjay Lumpkin, my long-derided “glue guy” who was an impossibly-bad offensive liability, has figured out how his role in the offense, hitting the occasional corner-pocket 3, running the floor, and scrapping for offensive rebounds. He had 14 points and 14 boards to lead Northwestern. With fellow senior Nathan Taphorn (11 points on 3/4 shooting from deep), Lumpkin guided the ‘Cats through a stretch in which they went ice-cold from the field and Bryant McIntosh (13 points) turned the ball over 8 times.

Northwestern survived, and that’s enough for today. I’m off to drink a gallon of fish oil and pray my heart doesn’t give out before this is all over.

Illinois 75, BYU 73

Not wanting to be overshadowed by what one amusing Twitter user referred to as the “JV team,” Illinois (9-3, KP 66) tried to blow a lead of its own, leading by as many as 16 in the first half before allowing the Cougars to crawl back to within 1 and then 2 with :06 left. The Illini held on, though, to give the Big Ten a clean sweep in the United Center.

Eric Mika continues to impress for the Cougars, going 9/12 from the field for his 25 points and 8 rebounds, and BYU (7-4, KP 61) assisted on 22 of its 26 baskets. But Illinois’s big men stole the show, as Maverick Morgan came off the bench to kick in 14 points and 10 points, Michael Finke added 10 and 6 of his own off the bench, and tenth-year senior Tracy Abrams took advantage on the wings, going for 15 points of his own to pace the Illini.

Could Jim Groce be on the way to saving his job? The Illini can really only count Winthrop as a moderately bad loss, and wins over NC State and VCU will help the Illini come tournament time. Along with teams like Iowa, Northwestern, Michigan, and Michigan State (more on them in a sec), Illinois will need something approximating a 9-9 campaign in conference play to come knocking on Selection Sunday.

Sunday

Penn State 92, St. John’s 76

Mike Watkins chipped in a double-double (15 pts, 13 rebs), Penn State assisted on 23 of its 32 baskets, and 5 Nittany Lions scored in double figures to push Penn State (7-5, KP 109) past St. John’s (5-7, KP 134) in Madison Square Garden.

Trailing 24-17 with 9:47 left in the first half, Penn State went on a 35-5 run into the half and never looked back. Malik Ellison had 22 for the Red Storm, who got the long-awaited return of freshman phenom Marcus LoVett...until he turned the ball over 6 times. Shamorie Ponds was bad from the field as well (3/17), as Penn State closed down shooters and forced 21 total turnovers.

Rutgers 68, Fordham 53

Yet another double-double from Deshawn Freeman (16 and 11) and a strong defensive performance (Fordham shot 32% from the field and 21% from deep) overcame 17 turnovers as Rutgers (11-1, KP 118) eased past Fordham (5-7, KP 210) in the second showdown at MSG.

Joseph Chartouny came off the bench to pitch in 17 points and add 7 steals for the Rams, who were hamstrung by German forward Christian Sengfelder’s 2/15 shoot performance and being dominated on the boards (22 total rebounds to Rutgers’ 51). In fact, Rutgers had more offensive rebounds (16) than Fordham (15), using its overall height to dominate the glass, and Mike Williams came off the bench to add 19 points and 6 rebounds. One wonders if this confidence will propel Rutgers into Big Ten play crashing the boards, or if they’ll learn not every team has only one player over 6’7”.

Gardner-Webb 70, Nebraska 62

I told you on Friday that Ed Morrow was due for a big game against the Runnin’ Bulldogs, and the junior didn’t disappoint, grabbing 18 rebounds and chipping in 9 points... There was just one problem: the Huskers still cannot shoot. Going 3/17 from deep and turning the ball over 20 (!!!) times, Nebraska (5-6, KP 88) fell to Gardner-Webb (7-5, KP 201) in Lincoln.

There’s no putting a happy face on this one. Gardner-Webb got out and ran like they wanted to, nabbing 14 steals along the way. Forward Tyrell Nelson had an impressive 24 points on 10/17 shooting and Laquincy Rideau had 6 steals and 5 assists to go with his 7 points. Meanwhile, Nebraska got its usual 17 out of Tai Webster and 14 out of Glynn Watson, Jr., but Gardner-Webb took the lead with a three with 12:57 left in the second half and held the Huskers at arm’s length on their home court.

This shit-show of an afternoon was compounded by a 3:13 drought at the end of the first half...for both teams, as Nebraska maintained its 30-28 lead all the way into the break. How bad are things in Lincoln?

Dark times, indeed.

Northeastern 81, Michigan State 73

OH WHAT THE HELL.

The Huskies took a 4-point lead into the break, and after Kyle Ahrens made a layup for Michigan State to tie the contest at 59-all with 7:48 to play, Northeastern (6-5, KP 148) used a 14-2 run over the next 6:16 to leave the Spartans (7-5, KP 56) in their dust in the Breslin Center.

Northeastern shot well from deep (47.8%), getting a crucial three from Alex Murphy (who had 18 points) late to bury any scent of a Spartan comeback. Nick Ward came off the bench (why?) to add 15 points, 7 boards, and 6 blocks in just 21 minutes, but the starting lineup let Tom Izzo’s bunch down today—the Spartans’ other main scorer, Cassius Winston, came off the bench to add 21 points and 10 rebounds. Not sure if this was a bad lineup day for Izzo’s gang or if the Short One messed up here, but this is going to hurt coming down the stretch for the Spartans.


We’ll hopefully be back with week previews soon! In the meantime, let us know who was your most surprising winner and loser this weekend.