My goodness, it’s been a few days, hmm?
Now that we’ve completed a weekend of Big Ten play and actually ranked all the Big Ten teams in our first—and surprisingly controversial...for other reasons—Power Poll, it’s time to see how our initial impressions turned out in the first few days of post-Big Ten play.
And...well, we know the Big Ten is hot ass in basketball this year. It’s Michigan State and everybody else, with Purdue toiling in an unimpressive second, Minnesota somewhere around third but unable to get a real signature win (and playing undisciplined basketball in the process), and Ohio State the pleasant surprise of the conference to date.
So last night, when planning this article, I popped into our basketball channel with a simple question:
how'd your team do this weekend?
Illinois Fighting Illini (7-4, 0-2 B1G)
def. Austin Peay Governors, 64-57
lost @ UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, 89-82
lol i'll be fucking delighted if we manage eight league wins
eh maybe we don't suck that much but we're not a tournament team. i watched none of the UNLV game (lol midnight tip off) but apparently we only lost by 7 despite getting called for 36 fouls and having 2 players foul out and 5 players with four. the most astonishing thing about that is that leron black was called for 0 fouls.
leron black is hurt
nvm we suck
Indiana Hoosiers (5-5, 1-1)
lost @ Louisville Cardinals, 71-62
Candystripes for Breakfast:
Well, the basketball team I'm having fun following this year just completed an impressive comeback thanks in large part to Victor Oladipo going off for a career high 47 points. The Hoosiers, on the other hand, are kinda middling and can't buy a 3 to save their lives at times. So, definitely watch the Pacers instead.
(Trailing by 1 at half, Louisville opened up an 8-point lead with six minutes remaining and held off the Hoosiers. Indiana did manage to hold down the pace and Deng Adel for most of the game—16 points on 40% shooting—but turned the ball over 15 times. The Hoosiers desperately need someone, anyone who can shoot a three, as they clanged just 5/23 home, and deep shooting remains a problem.)
Iowa Hawkeyes (5-6, 0-2)
Iowa is not very good. Turnovers are killing them. Not having a real point guard is turning into things like power forwards regularly bringing the ball up the court on the break, and that ends about as well as you can imagine. Connor McCaffery made his season debut on Sunday against Southern, and the ball movement looked a bit better in the second half.
But it's Southern. Sub rotations are still up in the air. Lots of people out of position on zone rotations, and man defense is mostly non existent on the perimeter. Set plays seem to go quite well, but the motion offense is a bit of a mess. Fun times.
I'll be overjoyed if we go 8-10. I wish this team was as good as I was hoping they would be in September
Maryland Terrapins (9-3, 1-1)
Maryland played a Gardner Webb. They treated them as such while down two starters.
Michael Cetkovsky scored 15 points on perfect shooting to dominate Ohio inside and followed that up with a firm 12 (firm 12) against British comedy troupe Gardner-Webb. It’s no doubt nice for his confidence to face softer and shorter frontcourts. Meanwhile the Terps continue to force turnovers and get good shooting nights from Kevin Huerter, but you already knew that. The Terps don’t have the inside play to consistently crack the top tier of Big Ten teams, but they’re the cream of the mediocre crop.
Michigan Wolverines (8-3, 1-1)
def. UCLA Bruins, 78-69 (OT)
Michigan beat UCLA. It was enjoyable. Michigan isn’t very good. UCLA isn’t very good. Michigan does have one hellofa 1-2 punch with Charles Matthews and Moritz Wagner...and a very nice coach. This is a bubble team, maybe, winning games necessary to stay on the bubble.
What a remarkable comeback, down double digits, you felt the wolverines were going to come back and come back and my god when Wagner gets rolling it really is enjoyable to see. The inside outside thing.
#3 Michigan State Spartans (9-1, 2-0)
def. Southern Utah THUNDERBIRDS, 88-63
MSU got more of a fight from Southern Utah than you would expect on paper thanks to a hot streak from 3 from the visitors, but when MSU's ball screen D sharpened up a bit, the margin opened up quickly. Spartans still turn the ball over too much, but when has that not been the case? These really good pieces are starting to fit together a lot better, but it feels like one more post dude is going to need to fall out of the rotation for the chemistry to be at its best.
#14 Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-3, 1-1)
lost @ Arkansas Razorbacks, 95-79
That was a little harsh. Sorry.
Jordan Murphy keeps piling up double-doubles in non-conference play, but Minnesota looks occasionally lost on offense and...well, Arkansas put up 95 points. You do the math on defense. Those of you not paying attention will be STUNNED to learn that Reggie Lynch continues to struggle with foul trouble, as the lesson that he cannot take running swings at opposing shooters continues to evade him. Without him the Gophers look confused on defense inside, as Gaston Diedhou was pressed into service now that Bakary Konate has a minor concussion.
Thank goodness the Gophers have finished the rough part of their schedule, with just the Harvard Crimson lurking in late December. A softer upcoming slate should allow struggling players like freshman G Isaiah Washington to find his stroke (5/17 in the last two games, 1/5 from deep) and set the Gophers up to hang onto a top-4 slot in conference play.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-4, 1-1)
lost @ Creighton Bluejays (75-65) [MNW: does it seem to anyone else like they play this game at Creighton every year?]
Nebrasketball took it to Minnesota for almost an entire game by doubling down on defense, running the offense through Glynn Watson, and hitting threes. They did that same thing - only this time through Isaac Copeland instead of Watson - for the first half against Creighton.
That formula ran out in the second half and this four game stretch of tough games comes to a close next weekend against Kansas. For what it’s worth, Nebraska is not a bad basketblal team. They certainly might not be good, but they’re not really bad.
Northwestern Wildcats (5-4, 1-1)
Ohio State Buckeyes (8-3, 2-0)
def. William & Mary Tribe, 97-62
After the Buckeyes defeated a fuckin’ co-ed team, apparently, our own Jimmy Buckeye decided to get all chesty and tell us Ohio State might be good.
(This is the place that we remind you that while Ohio State is 2-0 in Big Ten play, in their non-conference they do not have a win in the Kenpom Top 100. Carry on.)
Penn State Nittany Lions (8-3, 1-1)
def. George Washington Colonials like the un-American chucklefucks they are, 74-54
Sir Aaron, Duke of Yorke, celebrating the defeat of our nation’s greatest patriot*:
Penn State is still lacking a signature win, but at least it has had little trouble putting away the bad teams on the schedule. That trend continued with a comfortable victory over George Washington on Saturday that saw the Lions dominate the transition game. Mike Watkins is developing into a potent pick-and-roll threat and Tony Carr can now hit three-pointers regularly, but the bench production still leaves something to be desired.
*Please do not ‘at’ me with some explanation of why George Washington is “problematic” or “fraught” as an historical figure. I too have read Gawker and know this to be true, were my historical degrees insufficient.
#21 Purdue Boilermakers (10-2, 2-0)
(babaoreally could not be reached for comment, as he is spending a three-week holiday in San Francisco because he’s just so goddamn excited about the Foster Farms Bowl.)
Anyways, Purdue did Purdue things to teams smaller than Purdue, though they did start slow against IUPUI, with a Ryan Cline three right before half widening the lead to 9. Carsen Edwards is finding his stroke again, and the Boilers will keep right on rolling until they don’t which will be some weird anomalous game where Matt Painter forgets how to use Isaac Haas against a team with no centers that just presses the shit out of their guards.
Also fuck Dakota Mathias’ three-point shooting abilities. Just fuck that noise.
rutger Scarlet Knights (8-3, 0-2)
The Scarlet Knights may once again have reclaimed their rightful place as New Jersey’s third-best college basketball team, surviving their stiffest competition in the NJIT Highlanders with a 20-6 run over 6 minutes in the second half. Corey Sanders is shooting the ball really, really well (16/29, 3/7 from deep) since rutger’s usual 0-2 start to Big Ten play.
While the Knights’ inside play after Deshawn Freeman remains a mystery to me (I think it’s just Eugene Omoruyi, Candido Sa, and Shaquille Doorson with no real rhyme or reason to the rotation, but I also am not paid to care about rutger basketball), they still play defense (#32 AdjD in Kenpom), and that will be necessary as they look to gum up their upcoming date with Seton Hall.
wisconsin badgers (4-7, 1-1)
Oh. Ohhhhhh man.
As your resident Marquette basketball fan, let me tell you one goddamn thing: That felt really, really fucking good. Andrew Rowsey splashed shit from wherever the fuck he pleased in the second half (after getting a tech in the first half for shoving some nondescript white pud because Rowsey does remain a goddamn moron). Markus Howard, he of age fucking 18 as a sophomore, added 23, and the only basketball team worth a damn in that godforsaken state shot 64% from deep in a runaway win.
No one gives a fuck how good Ethan Happ is (until he beats the shit out of Dererk Pardon and Northwestern, of course). The badgers don’t have enough behind him, and now we get to hear a bunch of spoiled fans shift their attention to furiously masturbating to Aaron Rodgers’ imminent
making-up-for-lost-time DPI bitchfest “revenge tour” and pretending Greg Gard is the reason wisconsin basketball is shit.
At least we're all better than wisconsin.
It’s Finals Week for most of the Big Ten, so schools like Northwestern (on the quarter schedule) have the run of things on the TV slate. That means you’re going to be subjected to some really terrible shit on national TV.
Sorry I’ve been bad about getting basketball schedules and open-threads out to you all. Feel free to use this as your basketball open thread for the week, unless we get something else up and label it as such. Thanks for making OTE one of your homes for Big Ten basketball coverage.