What is happening to Indiana and Ohio State? Two teams, both ranked heading into Big Ten play that started strong, that have seemingly fallen off a cliff. Indiana looks to have absolutely no scoring depth behind Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford while Ohio State cannot operate at all if one of the Wesson brothers is not executing well. Yikes. If this keeps up, combined with Minnesota losing a few tough games with a not great NET ranking, we may only see seven or so Big Ten teams dancing. Of course the Pac 12 is absolute ass this year, so perhaps them only using their autobid will be a factor. Here is how the rest of the week in the Big Ten stacked up:
#5 Michigan Wolverines 59, Minnesota Golden Gophers 57
WSR: This team infuriates me. When we’re clicking, we’re as good as anyone in the B1G. When we’re off we’re on a level with Illinois, Rutgers, Penn State, and wisconsin. The worst part is that we swing between the two even inside a game regularly. There is no excuse to be a bubble team right now. None at all.
DJ: Minnesota lost on a buzzer beater shot to Michigan in a game they had every chance to win towards the end. Minnesota is one of those teams that could really make noise in the tournament if they make it and they’re clicking or be the 11/12 seed that gets absolutely pummeled. If they can gain any sort of consistency they’ll easily climb back out of bubble/outside looking in territory.
MNW: If you saw the Aaron Falzon Explosion coming...well, you didn’t. Dude isn’t going to go 6/7 from three every night (hell, he’d scored 6 points all year). But to see him come back from injury and sink Indiana was sure fun.
Outside that, the same problems remain problems: Vic Law and Anthony Gaines have not rediscovered their shots, but they’re getting better volume at the FT line. Otherwise it will be Falzon and Ryan Taylor hoping to hit enough threes to space the floor -- because this team, besides Dererk Pardon, is historically bad from two.
Against IU, that combination--threes and FTs--was enough. The Hoosiers are in free-fall, and Romeo Langford, Rob Phinisee, and their immense talent can’t carry a team that seems to lack depth. And, don’t look now, but Northwestern is trying to play its way into March consideration (I’ll take the NIT at this point).
Purdue took down an Ohio State team that looked like it didn’t have a pulse for much of the first half. Miraculously Ohio State came out swinging in the second half, largely in part due to Andre Wesson being on absolute fire (9/10, 4/5 3pt), but it wasn’t enough as Purdue hit clutch shot after clutch shot to pull away late. The bigger question for Ohio State is can they replicate that second half performance going forward or was that the last ditch effort before this young team flames out in Big Ten play?
I’m really starting to think Brad Underwood is gone after this season. For a team that really lacks depth, it’s pretty ridiculous to sit three players that provide meaningful minutes for, I quote: “No reason. It was the tempo of the game. They need to pay their dues.” Uh, what? Underwood is really losing it.
Oh, Wisconsin’s leading candidate for the horse face of the year award, Nate Reuvers, stepped up big when Happ was sidelined for long stretches due to foul trouble. Illinois tied the game late in the first half but never really looked in control or even to threaten. Things don’t look better either as Underwood has lit any connection Illinois had in Chicago on fire. Not good.
#6 Michigan State Spartans 82, #19 Iowa Hawkeyes 67
Stew: Welp. Cassius Winston is good at basketball. MSU is relentless on the boards. Michigan State plays incredibly physical defense and it took its toll late. Winston took over even against effective defense, Iowa’s shots stopped falling, and then the relatively good defender they had been playing most of the game finally gave out.
Andrew K: I had a feeling, going into this one, that the worst thing that could’ve happened for Iowa was Nick Ward playing the worst game of his career on Monday, and sure enough, Puddin got untracked to the tune of 21 and 10, but this team still remains the Cassius Winston Show. When Iowa went on a run to open the second half, Winston calmly buried three after three and the psychological effect on the Hawkeyes was visible (on review, as I couldn’t watch this one live).
I still feel a loss coming, and given that I didn’t think MSU would get through this Maryland-Iowa-Purdue stretch unscathed, it’s probably coming Sunday against yet another hot opponent, but MSU is coming off back-to-back 15-point wins over hot opponents, so maybe it’s fine to be optimistic.
#5 Michigan Wolverines at Indiana Hoosiers (+3.5) || 6:30pm ET || FS1
Things don’t get much easier for a struggling Indiana team with Top 5 Michigan heading to town. Michigan plays incredible defense that will frustrate the hell out of Romeo Langford while also posessing the bodies inside to contain Juwan Morgan. Can someone else step up to provide a scoring presence and space out the Michigan defenders? Doubtful the way their last three weeks have played out.
Can Indiana get a sorely needed win over a Top 5 opponent?
This poll is closed
They’ll show life but can’t beat Michigan
They beat Michigan