Illinois Fighting Illini - Maui Invitational
Brad Underwood’s Fighting Illini entered a stacked field in Hawaii and had a hard go of it, getting swept away in all three games they played. To their credit, they did put a scare into #3 Gonzaga, keeping the margin to 6 in an 84-78 loss, but their defense again floundered in allowing 84 to Iowa State and 83 to Xavier in their concurrent losses. Ayo Dosunmu has been every bit the star he was projected as, and he and Trent Frazier should at least give Illini fans some entertaining backcourt play to watch, but oof, that defense.
Indiana Hoosiers - Hardwood Showcase
Although IU took its first loss of the season after getting edged by Arkansas in the first game of the four-team bracket, they rebounded against a game UT-Arlington squad two days later. Archie Miller’s youth movement is in full and impressive swing - in particular, don’t get too comfortable with Romeo Langford in candystripes, as he won’t be around long.
Iowa Hawkeyes - 2K Classic
And here we have our first unalloyed success of the weekend, as the Hawkeyes rolled to the tournament title in New York. The Hawkeyes first controlled #13 Oregon and presumptive top-5 pick Bol Bol and then laid a 19-point beatdown on UConn in the final. Iowa has shown an impressive inside-outside offensive balance and depth of scoring, and though the defense is still definitely the weakest aspect of their collective game, it looks as though they’ll be filling it up well enough to cover that on most nights.
Maryland Terrapins - Just Sorta Stayed Home?
From what I can tell, Maryland opted not to play in a tournament in a faraway land, but instead hosted undefeated Marshall. The Terps, with probably the youngest team in the conference (9 underclassmen), ran Marshall out of the building. It remains to be seen if Anthony Cowan Jr. is enough to guide the tremendous athletic potential this team has to conference contention, but they can be a lot of fun to watch.
Michigan Wolverines - Air Force Reserve Tip-Off Tournament
Michigan, now undefeated and ranked #9, continues to not miss a beat without Moe Wagner and Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman as they cruised to the title of the AFRTOT, having little trouble with either George Washington or Providence. Fresh off a cathartic blowout of Villanova, Michigan showed its depth in unleashing Charles Matthews, Iggy Brazdekis, Jordan Poole, and Jon Teske in turns while continuing their disciplined defense.
Michigan State Spartans - Las Vegas Invitational
Michigan State, feeling some things out after losing Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr., came out on top of a high-wattage field in Las Vegas, first suffocating UCLA 87-67 and then enduring a horrendous start against Texas’ upgraded version of Shaka Smart’s Havoc press to eventually push out the margin against the Longhorns as well. When MSU is careful with the ball, they’re hard to match, but there have been a couple stretches already when that hasn’t been the case. Still, the junior triumvirate of Cassius Winston, Josh Langford and Nick Ward is a handful when they’re all firing.
Minnesota Golden Gophers - Vancouver Showcase
In the first-ever iteration of this event north of the border, Richard Pitino’s Gophers took down Washington in the final in dramatic fashion, with Gabe Kalschauer hitting a game-winning three-pointer as time expired in a virtual road game (though whether Husky Nation turned out for a basketball game is unconfirmed by this author). To even get to the final, Minnesota had to work through a field of Texas A&M and Santa Clara. This team will still live and die on the shoulders of Amir Coffey and Jordan Murphy most nights, but Kalschauer isn’t the only other player worth watching on this roster.
Nebraska Cornhuskers - Hall of Fame Classic
The Cornhuskers, after making some unexpected noise last year, worked over a few tomato cans before heading into their first challenge of the season. Nebraska put away Missouri State in the opener, but had the screws turned on them by a grinding, physical Texas Tech team in the title game and lost 70-52.
Northwestern Wildcats - Wooden Legacy Classic
Lot of “Classic”s out there, huh. Anyway. Northwestern took a somewhat surprising stumble against Fresno State in the opener, which sent them into the consolation bracket. There, they settled for winning the fifth place game over Utah, after easily dispatching winless La Salle. Dererk Pardon and Vic Law both found their shooting strokes to lead the ‘Cats over the Utes, and if Northwestern wants to avoid the conference cellar this year, they’ll need comparable production all season from both seniors.
Ohio State Buckeyes - Also Just Chilled At Home
The Buckeyes likewise passed on holiday travel, hosting in-state Cleveland State instead. There was little drama in this or any of the Buckeyes’ games this year, as they remain undefeated and were really only challenged on their trip to Creighton. Without Keita Bates-Diop dictating the action, Ohio State has shown much more balance this year, and is somehow flying under the radar a bit despite last year’s resurgence.
Penn State Nittany Lions - Cancun Challenge
The Nittany Lions entered the final stages of this prolonged tournament, which has occupied their entire schedule to this point. Upon arriving in Mexico for the final batch of games, Penn State defeated Wright State, but ultimately fell to Bradley, 59-56, in their bracket final - and this was after their earlier loss to DePaul. The post-Tony Carr/Mike Watkins era continues to be a work in progress for Pat Chambers’ group; Lamar Stevens has been their clear cornerstone, but the weight has proven a bit too much for him thus far.
Purdue Boilermakers - Charleston Classic
Though the Boilers have for the most part looked good while retooling after losing Isaac Haas, Vince Edwards, and Dakota Mathias, they ran into a tough opponent in the final of the Charleston Classic and fell to Virginia Tech, 89-83. Purdue did beat Davidson in the first match of the tourney, though, and Carsen Edwards continues to look like a possible Conference Player of the Year.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights - Kinda Feels Like They Weren’t Invited Anywhere
The third conference team deciding the couch was the best place to spend the weekend (can’t say I disagree), Rutgers hosted Boston University for a rip-roaring 54-44 affair. Rutgers has certainly made their preferred style known at this point, as their defense has snuffed the life out of a few teams already this season - remember that Eastern Michigan basketball isn’t the same as Eastern Michigan football, and that Rutgers’ result there was actually good. Offensively, they can still be a chore to watch, but Geo Baker has some nice flair to his game.
Wisconsin Badgers - Battle 4 Atlantis
Enjoying roster continuity that may well be unprecedented in recent college basketball history, Wisconsin had shown nice rhythm with their full complement of players heading into the Bahamas. Behind Ethan Happ and D’Mitrik Trice, Wisco dispatched Stanford and Oklahoma in their first two games before getting smothered by the spiritual successor to Bo Ryan, Tony Bennett’s 4th-ranked Virginia. Happ’s made-for-college game will ultimately land him on a lot of all-time lists in Madison before the season ends.
Which B1G team’s tournament win most impressed you?
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