There’s a lot of Big Ten basketball this weeked, and some of it’s even good!
Fresh off the conference’s most successful seven days of the season, in which Indiana and rutger both claimed home court wins over ranked opponents, the Big Ten generally acquitted itself rather nicely this week, save for an Indiana meltdown to in-state daddy Fort Wayne.
This weekend, though, the competition gets ratcheted up, as Northwestern heads to Norman for a showdown with high-flying Oklahoma, Illinois makes the short drive to St. Louis for Braggin’ Rights, and Iowa plays a kinda-home game in a city which is notably neither in Iowa nor closer to Iowa City than Ames.
Northwestern Wildcats (9-4, KP 47) at #17 Oklahoma Sooners (9-1, KP 20)
6pm | ESPN2 | OU -9
Trae Young is going to drop about 30 and 11 on the ‘Cats. (His 26 points in a rout of Northwestern State, by the way, was his lowest output since November 15.) Northwestern is getting blown the fuck out. Just accept this to be true now; it’ll hurt less when it’s all over.
Really, though, the most frustrating part of this game is going to be watching Oklahoma push the pace just like Creighton and Texas Tech did, playing tough defense and using tempo to keep Northwestern off-balance and out of its (so far pretty poor) offensive sets. The Sooners have struggled on the glass (244th in total rebounding) and don’t get to the line a ton, but they’re a top 10 team in field goal percentage (from 2, at least) and just have the athleticism to run you off the floor.
Controlling Khadeem Lattin inside and running Brad Manek off the three-point line could hold off the Sooners for a little while, but the ‘Cats don’t have anyone to truly match up with Manek (I expect Gavin Skelly to get some time and foul out in about 15 minutes played), while Vic Law will pick up a couple cheap fouls on Young, who will promptly drop 20 before halftime.
Gives me an excuse to get drunk at the first of three family Christmases.
rutger Scarlet Knights (10-3, KP 91) vs. Stony Brook Seawolves (4-8, KP 181)
6pm | BTN+ | no line
The Knights play [insert sub-200 RPI team here] at the RAC. Using their height, led by [insert still-below-average 6’11” F/C here], rutger should dominate the glass. Steve Pikiell has imposed his defensive style on rutger, who still rely on the offensive output of [that one good guard or whatever].
(They also beat Seton Hall last weekend, which is legitimately impressive. Now back to the steady diet of cupcakes and not leaving the state.)
Penn State Nittany Lions (10-3, KP 37) vs. Rider Broncs (6-5, KP 180)
6pm | BTN | PSU -15.5
I’m still really upset that Rider spells it “Broncs” and not Broncos.
Anyway, this game could end with Penn State hitting triple digits, because the Broncs play at a break-neck pace without playing much in the way of good defense. In other news, the Nittany Lions are hitting 47% of their shots on the year, which feels pretty good. I don’t know how good at actually is, but that seems optimal. I’ll bet Tony Carr is really good at basketball still, too, and tonight seems like a night Mike Watkins will have himself a game.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-5, KP 85) vs. Delaware St Hornets (2-11, KP 350)
7pm | BTN+ | no line
Credit to the Hornets, who did put a scare in Pitt the other night before falling 64-58. But their other two wins are against the D-III Cairn Highlanders and a 13-point escape over D-II Georgian Court University, which I learned just lost a “heartbreaker,” 71-70, to Goldey-Beacom University.
I don’t actually tell you this to make you care about any of these games or because these details matter, but because it’s a whole lot more interesting than telling you I was impressed with the Huskers’ ball movement and dribble penetration against UT-San Antonio on Tuesday night. Their defense was another matter entirely (it was very bad), but Tim Miles might have found an offense—or maybe it was just that the Huskers got to the line 50 (FIVE-ZERO) times against the Roadrunners, including an impressive 13/17 from James Palmer Jr., who scored 25.
Iowa Hawkeyes (7-6, KP 74) vs. Colorado Buffaloes (8-3, KP 116)
8pm | BTN | Sanford Pentagon Center, Sioux Falls, not-Iowa | IA -4.5
I want to be the first to extend my congratulations to the Hawkeyes, who with their blowout win over Southern Utah have finally passed Northern Iowa in Kenpom ratings and are officially maybe the second-best team in Iowa.
You know what’s not in Iowa? Sioux Falls!
Stewmonkey13: Iowa playing a neutral site game out in Sioux Falls, much to the consternation of Sioux City. This should be a decent last test before conference play really starts (fuck you, Delany). Were the last few games real indication of improvement, or just fool's gold?
Colorado looks to be a favorable matchup for Iowa, too. They don't force many turnovers, and turn the ball over themselves quite a bit. Though, they do have much better height than any of Iowa's recent opponents, so watching how the matchups in the paint and on the boards may determine the game. I do like Iowa here, just based on the matchups.
Traditionally, the good people of Sioux City have been known for their earnest desire to get things right and an almost pathological inability to do so.
Ohio St Buckeyes (10-3, KP 46) vs. #5 North Carolina Tar Heels (10-2, KP 11)
12:30pm | CBS | CBS Sports Classic, New Orleans
North Carolina lost to Wofford. At home.
Jae’Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop are playing good ball right now, and the Buckeyes are sniffing around the bubble, but this will be a game where the margin could indicate just how “for real” the Buckeyes are. If this one comes down to the wire, I think we’re talking about the odds that Ohio State secures a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament. If not, well...they’ll always have...Michigan? Whatever Ohio State’s signature win is.
Minnesota Golden Gophers (10-3, KP 43) vs. Florida Atl. Owls (6-5, KP 249)
2:30pm | BTN
WhiteSpeedReceiver: HOO the hell does Florida Atlantic think they are? They owls are going to meet their extention in the barn. While we may not have any DDT, we do have home cooking and Reggie Lynch.
Stew: Reggie Lynch was just called for another foul.
WSR: Shit. Somebody pour me another Bacardi Konate.
Wisconsin Badgers (5-7, KP 62) vs. Green Bay Phoenix (5-7, 301)
4:30pm | BTN
Hey, wisconsin finally found a team with a similar record!
Whatever, this’ll be the same shitty game it is every year. Linc Darner and the Phoenix want to get out and run, and now they’ve added Marquette transfer and Green Bay native Sandy Cohen III, giving them a little offensive spark beside G Khalil Small.
Disappointingly, I don’t think Enes Kanter’s little brother plays for Green Bay anymore, and the undersized Phoenix will probably get swallowed up inside by Ethan Happ and (/closes eyes, points at program) Andy Van Vliet, huh? Sure. Why not. I think he’s tall.
Illinois Fighting Illini (8-5, KP 94) vs. Missouri Tigers (10-2, KP 50)
7pm | ESPN2 | some basketball arena in St. Louis
Thumpasaurus: We'll play like shit in the first half, unable to stop them from finishing at the rim, unable to find an open shot and really frustrating. Trailing big at halftime, we'll fight back playing tough defense and heating up from deep. Incredibly, we'll come back to take the lead in the last 8 minutes. But then we'll forget how to play basketball with under a minute to play and a series of stunning mental lapses will push us out of contention right at the end
MNW: Will Cuonzo Martin give Illinois a really inspiring pep talk after the game about how they're not that bad?
Thump: He did it to a bunch of dudes Underwood coached before, I don't see what’s different now. Leron Black is apparently still pissed Tilmon reneged
Who gets Braggin’ Rights?
This poll is closed
Anyway, that was fun. Look for lots of other fun things over the holiday weekends (Mailbag coming soon, today’s bowl thread for all the Bahamas and Potatoes, another bowl preview/thread tomorrow, and maybe we’ll even break out an aluminum pole tomorrow)...
Here’s your open thread. Behave.