Remember Minnesota? The fantastically-hot club with a single-digit RPI who could conjure up outside shooting and offensive rebounds in moments of crisis?
If the season ended today they’d still be in the NCAA Tournament, but they’d also be playing a Day One game in the Big Ten Tournament. That’s kind of fun.
Also, congratulations to rutger and especially CJ Gettys on their historic fourth Big Ten win of all time. We knew you could do it, CJ.
Full load of games this week, so let’s get some bracketology out of the way and then hop to it.
|Ratings and Bracketology||Joe Lunardi (1/23)||Jerry Palm (1/23)||Busting Brackets (1/23)|
|Michigan St||52||40||41||7||W||Wake Forest||10||MW||Xavier||9||S||Virginia Tech|
|Minnesota||38||36||17||8||MW||Virginia Tech||6||MW||Wake Forest/Texas Tech||7||S||VCU|
|Northwestern||31||32||35||8||E||Iowa State||7||E||Arkansas||7||W||Iowa State|
|Illinois||72||71||47||-||-||Next Four Out||-||-||-||-||-||-|
Not much is separating Purdue and wisconsin these days, and if those two continue to chug their ways through the Big Ten, I think the conference will find itself with a pair of 3-seeds. Add Maryland somewhere around a 6-7 seed (though RPI loves them, and obviously RPI is much, much smarter than Kenpom hello to all our Maryland friends), Indiana in the 5-6 range, and apparently Michigan State because why the hell not, that’s going to be a thing.
The Big Ten, with a couple teams hot at the right time, will be in a position where they need to pull a few upsets but could conceivably drop 2-3 teams in the Sweet Sixteen.
It’s still not The Year, though.
If the Big Ten Tournament started today:
(tiebreaker procedures here, the five-way tie of Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, Penn State, and Nebraska is solved by Michigan’s 2-2 record against the group besting the 1-1 records of Iowa, Penn State, and Nebraska. Minnesota takes the bottom slot out of the group, then the records of the middle three against the top team in the league--wisconsin and Maryland, since they’re tied—is settled by Nebraska’s 1-0 record, Penn State’s 0-0 record, and Iowa’s 0-1 record. this is fun! and I’m quite possibly wrong!)
rutger (12-8, 1-6 B1G) at #22 Maryland (17-2, 5-1)
6pm || BTN || MD -11
So...this one just got potentially interesting. From DJ Carver:
DJ: Melo might be out for tomorrow with a stomach virus. Turgeon said this [per Maryland’s 24/7 site], which is lol worthy on rutger last year:
"They’re a whole different team," Turgeon said. "Last year we didn’t play Melo much and we tried to keep the score down. This year they’re a basketball team. They’ve won 12 games. That’s a lot of games. They’re thinking NCAA Tournament, that’s the way they’re thinking, so they’ve got our attention, they’re a good team. And they do something that we don’t do well; they rebound the ball. And so we’ve got to be a much more physical team tomorrow night."
At the same time, Maryland holds teams to the worst shooting percentage (40.3%) in conference play, and with rutger coming to town, it’s going to be incumbent on the Terrapins to clean up the defensive glass as well.
For rutger, while Corey Sanders has continued his strong play over the last few games, it’s obviously the heroic, back-to-back double-digit outings from CJ Gettys which has given the Knights an option inside. If he can avoid being a defensive liability, he could keep things close in College Park.
Pick: Maryland, 68-60
#20 Purdue (16-4, 5-2) at Michigan State (12-8, 4-3)
6pm || ESPN2 || PU -2
Purdue’s glacial climb up the CBB rankings has been bolstered, as always, by Caleb Swanigan’s 16 double-doubles. Yes. We know.
It’s perhaps a little bit of a stretch, but efficient play from Vince Edwards seems incredibly important to me. When he shoots over 50% from the field during conference play, the Boilermakers have scored at least 76 points. They’ve won all of those games. A similar rule applies to Carsen Edwards. Strong play out of those two, and Purdue could escape the Breslin Center with a win.
Meanwhile, though Miles Bridges is beginning to fill up that stat sheet again, if he’s not playing lights-out, the Spartans struggle (the 6 TOs against Ohio State and the 23.5% shooting against Indiana hurt). Against Purdue, the Spartans’ lack of size might hurt, but they need this win to keep stay afloat in tourney projections.
Pick: Purdue, 81-77
Penn State (11-9, 3-4) at #15 wisconsin (16-3, 5-1)
8pm || BTN || wi -14
A tough Penn State defense (KP #28) that still likes to get out and run will struggle to keep up that pace and efficiency at the Kohl Center. As always, the badgers will grind out possessions and use their length inside to challenge the Nittany Lions.
Also, Bronson Koenig is shooting 65.4% from deep for the last 5 games. That’s 17/26, and it’s insane. Fuck wisconsin.
Pick: wisconsin, 76-65
Minnesota (15-5, 3-4) at Ohio State (12-8, 2-5)
6pm || BTN
I said it the other day—I have no idea what to make of the Buckeyes. I also don’t think the Gophers are that good, but they have found ways to stick around in Big Ten play. They also have the length and defensive efficiency to slow the already-struggling Buckeye offense.
As the Gophers have sputtered, it’s coincided with Nate Mason’s declining performance. Already shooting terribly from the field, the senior has also stopped getting to the line as of late.
Pick: Minnesota, 67-63
Iowa (11-9, 3-4) at Illinois (12-8, 2-5)
8pm || BTN
Stewmonkey13: This game is in the shithole known as Champaign. Since it's an away game, and Iowa has yet to win a true road game all season, I expect Thump will be mad that this makes it less likely Groce is getting fired.
Nebraska (9-10, 3-4) at Northwestern (16-4, 5-2)
7pm || BTN
BRT: Given that it's The Year for Northwestern and decidedly not for a Husker team that just can't catch a break, it's hard to see this one going Nebraska's way. I expect that the Huskers will put forth a valiant effort (as they have admirably done all season) and will keep it manageable, but until Morrow is back, it looks like the Huskers are destined to come up short (in more than one sense of the word).
Indiana (14-6, 4-3) at Michigan (13-7, 3-4)
8pm || ESPN2
So...OG Anunoby’s out for the year. And that’s a big problem for the Hoosiers.
No shit, right? But Michigan has been so hot and cold this year that the Wolverines could be a completely welcome sight for the more athletic Hoosiers, or they could shoot IU right out of Crisler.
As usual, here’s your thread to talk about games for the week. Usual rules apply, and be sure to vote in the polls as they update! Thanks as always for reading OTE’s shootyhoops coverage.
-MNW and the OTE Basketball Staff