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B1G Hoops Mid-Week Recap

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Front-runners wisconsin keep their dominance of Tom Crean alive, but Michigan State and Nebraska are knocking at the door.

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Indiana
“Tom Crean talks to a referee” is the suggested caption for this photo. I don’t think Tom Crean has ever merely “talked” to a referee in his life.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

#13 wisconsin 75, #25 Indiana 68

Yep, it’s wisconsin’s conference to lose.

Ethan Happ controlled the interior to the tune of 19 points and 6 boards, drawing fouls and demanding Indiana’s attention inside, picking up 4 assists while kicking the ball out, where wisconsin shot 50% on the night (including a ridiculous 5-5 performance from Bronson Koenig). The badgers are rolling and, with a Sunday afternoon showdown at Purdue looking like the last “big” obstacle on their schedule, go ahead and put your money on the fucking badgers to win the conference.

Things aren’t great in Bloomington, where Tom Crean’s club have now dropped three straight games. Perhaps Indiana just aren’t as good as they were cracked up to be. For a roster built around the star power of James Blackmon, Thomas Bryant, and OG Anunoby, I’m not seeing a ton of stardom. (This, of course, ensures that those three will combine for 55 as Indiana thrashes Northwestern.)

Michigan State, 93-65

Andrew Piłsudski: This was probably the ideal time for Miles Bridges to come back, as the Fightin' Gers (who, I concede, are far better than they were last year, though it'd be hard not to be) couldn't capitalize on some initial tentativeness from MSU. Bridges didn't show any signs of rust, and wove back into the new makeup of the team pretty well.

Eron Harris obviously won't shoot like this every night, but if he consistently chips in double figures, maybe this team works its way into the conference conversation after all.

Michigan 72, Penn State 69

Aaron Yorke: I know Pat Chambers wants to play Penn State Basketball Turbo Edition, but maybe he should stick to the original version when his team is up by double digits on the road. There were just too many turnovers and panicked shots down the stretch to finish off what could have been a rare win in Ann Arbor.

The good news is that Pat Chambers appears to have a group that's capable of competing for an NCAA Tournament berth in the next two or three years. The perimeter defense and overall athleticism on this team is something Penn State fans haven't seen in years.

The Original GF: Fantastically interesting Michigan-PSU game. “Yeah not really” says the peanut gallery, but let me retort! This was a streaky and talented Penn State squad, not an NCAA Tourney bound team, but annoying enough to beat most B1G teams on any given day, playing pretty well on Michigan’s home floor, hitting big threes, taking a 14 point lead in the 2nd half even. This was an improved Wolverine squad, full of improved bigs, playing listlessly in a “bad loss” game that would put a mighty big black mark on its NCAA Tourney resume.

And you knew the comeback was coming, but the “whole team effort” was good to see for Mich. Good result for Big Blue, tough loss for PSU...I still cannot believe that Michigan fans would ever call for Beilein to be fired, like I see on Twitter or Mgo. Do you remember Amaker and Ellerbe and scandals and ongoing mediocrity and recruiting busts littering the bench and no semblance of an offensive system?

Anyways, Penn State put up a good figh—

...oh.

Oh.

OH.

#20 Purdue 76, Ohio State 75

Traveling means nothing and Caleb Swanigan posted his 13th double-double of the season. Lather, rinse, repeat. His go-ahead free throw with :05 remaining helped the Boilermakers escape Value City Arena with a tight win.

Should we be concerned about Isaac Happ? He came off the bench and only managed 6 points for the Boilers (though he did pull down 10 boards in 20 minutes) to go with 3 turnovers and 3 fouls. Swanigan will be enough for the Boilers against most lesser teams, but streaky outside shooting (Purdue was 8/23 last night) and the disappearance of its second inside threat could derail [TRAIN PUN] the Boilermakers.

As for Ohio State...it’s just looking rough. Keita Bates-Diop is out for the year with a stress fracture in his foot, and while an improved performance against Purdue is nothing to sneeze at, there are a lot of obstacles to overcome to righting the ship and delivering what is something like a millionth consecutive winning Big Ten record.

Iowa at Nebraska

BRT: Well. That was a fun game! In retrospect. During, it was a rather stressful affair. Nebraska and Iowa proved to be about as evenly matched as they appeared on paper, and it took the Huskers two overtimes to emerge victorious (though if they had not suddenly turned putrid at the FT line this game, it would have been a win in regulation.) But in any event, this was a classic. Peter Jok is as dazzling as advertised, and though he had a slow first half, he more or less singlehandedly kept Iowa in the game. However, Nebraska's Glynn Watson Jr. wasn't daunted and turned in an equally stunning performance of his own. This game was perhaps best exemplified in the second half when Jok let fly a beautiful three that looked poised to spring Iowa from the neck-and-neck game. The Husker crowd quieted. But the Huskers inbounded the ball, Watson took it down the floor, and drained an incredible three of his own.

This was a game of young players on both teams playing their hearts out, and it was a thrill to watch. The Huskers are, improbably, 3-0 for the first time in Big Ten history, and the first time since Gerald Ford was president. The Huskers are young and inexperienced, but they don't seem prepared to quit in any game, and they're playing an aggressive brand of ball that so far has given their conference mates trouble.

Stew: Well, shit. That was a fun, if somewhat haphazard game. Ultimately, UNL had the home court advantage, and Iowa ran out of gas just a minute sooner. Though, there was some end of game situations that were a bit familiar to Iowa fans from the last few years. Get a small lead late in the game and stop running their normal offense and then force bad shots or turn the ball over. This is the most infuriating thing, I think. Still, it was one hell of a game, I’m just a bit bitter Iowa ended up on the wrong side.

Minnesota 70, Northwestern 66

Hey look. Northwestern shot 1/15 from deep in the second half (I think Gavin Skelly just missed another) after being phenomenal from deep in the first half, Reggie Lynch continued his strong play inside, and Minnesota used a 10-0 run to erase a 7-point deficit in the second half and won in Evanston.

I guess this is one of those “moral victories” I’ve heard so much about, because all the commentators seemed thrilled for Minnesota to get a “good win” on the road in Evanston. So hooray! Northwestern motherfucking basketball is finally to the point of not-shittiness that winning at Welsh-Ryan Arena is a “good win.” I’ll remind myself of that when Northwestern heads to UT-Arlington sorry I forgot they’re an all-world team Providence in the first round of the NIT. At least Bryant McIntosh “found his shot” or something again.

Minnesota’s going dancing with this strong inside play (particularly Reggie Lynch, he of 12 and 8) and capable guard work. There are still a lot of issues for the Golden Gophers (that first half, late-game FT shooting by people not named Nate Mason, etc), but they should easily get to 9 conference wins, and unless 3 of those losses are to teams like Penn State or rutger, they’ll be just fine.

But yeah. Fuck. Fuck every goddamn thing. It’s not The Year, it never was The Year, and still I feel like this. Fuck you, Northwestern basketball. Fuck you so fucking hard for ever allowing me even a shred of goddamn fucking belief. Fuck.

Holy Cross 67, Colgate 61

Yeah. That’s the stuff. Just tell me it’s gonna be OK, Bill.