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Big Ten Hoops Weekend Recap

So...maybe it’s Purdue in the driver’s seat? Or still wisconsin? Or Minnesota?

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

#25 Indiana 96, Illinois 80

Thump: we suck. don’t care.

Candystripes: I only saw the majority of the second half of IU-Illinois, but it looked like Indiana was both in control and on the verge of giving up the game for just about all of that time. I officially don't understand what the team is doing right now, which probably means they'll be up and down until the Big Ten tourney, probably finish 3rd in conference (or worse, if they go on a long cold streak), continue to not make the BTT final, and maybe advance a round or two in the NCAAs before bowing out against a team they probably could have beaten. You know, the usual.

Penn State 72, Michigan State 63

Andrew Krasziewski: A team as young as MSU probably had a drop off coming, but they gave a pretty ugly performance against Penn State, overall. Reintegrating Miles Bridges into this lineup apparently isn't going to be that easy, and he certainly made a lot of early-freshman-season mistakes that Nick Ward and Cassius Winston are already moving beyond.

Penn State was also a sobering reminder that this team is just too small to consistently outrebound opponents who match their desire, which to their credit PSU certainly did. Still a very thin tournament resume, but also still a lot of scalps available on the schedule.

Aaron Yorke: So this is what it looks like when Penn State knocks down some shots! Lamar Stevens showed off his mid-range jumper, Josh Reaves broke down the opposing defense, and Tony Carr did a little bit of everything on offense.

Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions used their athleticism on defense to hold Miles Bridges to just four points in 27 minutes. Penn State’s inconsistent shooting might lead to some variable results this year, but this new and exciting defense has the potential to keep the team in some games that it has no business winning.

Maryland 77, Michigan 70

Maryland struggled to put this game away after taking several commanding leads but the freshmen showed some growth in closing out the game. Surprisingly, Damonte Dodd led all Maryland scorers and dominated Michigan in the paint. Michigan, giving up a career game to the likes of Damonte Dodd is not a good thing.

Northwestern 74, Nebraska 66

BigRedTwice: Well, that was not an ideal first game to attend for this season. Nebraska appeared to have a bit of a hangover from its unexpected charge to begin conference play and its marathon win over Iowa on Thursday (it seems that Iowa was still tired too). The Huskers, for whatever reason, lacked the aggressiveness that made them such a surprising opponent in the previous three games, and a lethargic offense (stunted by a stout defensive effort by the Wildcats, it must be said) meant that though they kept within striking distance of Northwestern for most of the game, they were unable to put the game away. Notably, Glynn Watson, Jr., hero of Thursday night with 34 points, mustered only six on Sunday (two of which were free throws.) Let's hope that was just fatigue, and that he's back to his old self soon!

For Northwestern's part, they shot insanely well during the game. They missed only one free throw all afternoon. One. It also felt like they only missed one three-pointer as well, though stats tell me that was not the case. Nebraska did not defend the long shots well, and, as a favor to the rest of the Big Ten, we can now safely advise you that you should NOT do that against Northwestern. It will probably not go well for you if you take that defensive strategy.

A few bright spots: Michael Jacobsen shot much better than normal (12 points, which was the second-highest on the team, which is... not really a good thing, although yay for him); Jack McVeigh (who today I learned is from Carbarita Beach, Australia and you should Google that and ask yourself why you'd ever live anywhere else) had a couple of nice shots coming off the bench for the first time in awhile; and the final 1:41 of the first half, where Nebraska suddenly exploded on a 14-0 run was insane, awesome to behold, and almost worth the price of admission alone.

Anyway. It's a young team and the inconsistency isn't surprising, though it's kind of a bummer. Let's hope they regroup quickly and get back to the disruptive, devil-may-care play that brought them early success in the Big Ten.

MNW: BRT’s not wrong that NU only missed one FT, but that’s apparently a trend now (they also only missed one against Minnesota). This ‘Cats team can really shoot free throws...if only they’d do a more consistent job of getting to the line.

A lot of that starts inside for Northwestern—while Dererk Pardon has returned from a hand injury and put the Wildcats on his back for a stretch in the second half against the foul trouble-saddled Ed Morrow, they need a consistent inside scoring threat. Pardon and freshman Barrett Benson might be that answer for the ‘Cats, but they are a bit undersized and will get out-muscled by teams with better frontcourts (see: Minnesota, Purdue, wisconsin, possibly OSU and Indiana).

Out of Nebraska, I love the 1-3-1 look (because of-fucking-course I do, you fools). But, as BRT alluded to, that defense is prone—as it always is—to giving up a lot of threes. Against better shooting teams (which apparently Northwestern was yesterday, which was nice), that’s going to be a liability.

But credit Tim Miles for finding a way to get his team back into the conversation in the conference. Nebraska could continue to play itself toward the NIT if they keep this up.

#20 Purdue 66, #13 wisconsin 55

Speth: Well I didn't watch the game because I was busy watching the Packers destroy the New York Midshipmen, but Wisconsin didn't hit a 3 until halfway through the second half and scored 21 points by halftime so that's usually not good. Happ is a monster, and I wouldn't be mad if Wisconsin never played at Mackey Arena again.

Iowa 68, rutger 62

Stew: This was an atrocious game. I kinda hope this was just a hangover from the 2OT game against UNL on Thursday. Iowa looked pretty awful. At one point going over 8 minutes without a FG, and being down 9 against a very, very awful rutger team. 18 turnovers (many of which were completely unforced), terrible shooting (43% from the field and 30% from 3), just a horrible overall game. That Iowa pulled away late is a testament to just how truly awful rutger still is.

#24 Minnesota 78, Ohio State 68

The Gophers overcame Reggie Lynch fouling out yet again and a 2/12 shooting performance from Nate Mason, getting 19 from Amir Coffey and some hot shooting from Akeem Springs (who is now over 1,000 points for his career—congrats to the transfer!) to dispatch the 0-3 Buckeyes at home.

Mason made free throws at the right time and the Gophers used disciplined play down the stretch to finally pull away from Thad Matta’s club, which just does not appear to have the discipline, offensive prowess, or defensive mettle to hang in the Big Ten this year.

WSR: What the hell is going on? Minnesota is tied for first and there's been a game played. This team is fun to watch, a little crazy, and wildly exceeding my expectations for this season. Hang on to your butts, Gopher fans.