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FEAST WEEK: Big Ten Basketball Non-Con Tournament Previews, Open Thread

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From the sunny days of Fort Myers, Maui and the Cayman Islands to the clouds of New York—there’s some Big Ten basketball for everyone. Previews!

NCAA Basketball: Maui Invitational- Connecticut v Oregon Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning! We’re a little scrambled today, with some life, work, and computer things shifting around our normal schedule. You can read the recaps of the weekend in Big Ten basketball here, if you’d like—otherwise you might notice, for the next week, that some of your favorite Big Ten teams will be playing their next 2-3 games in large NBA arenas, small city gyms scattered across the Sun Belt, or what appears to be a church basement in a tax haven.

That’s because the second-most wonderful time of the year (after bowl season!) is here!

#FEASTWEEK

Welcome! We’ve got your previews for the Feast Week tournaments starting today, along with the next two days of Big Ten basketball broadly. In lieu of super-serious deep dives, we opted for the time-old OTE tradition: Stream-of-consciousness email Slack* chains.

*See? Don’t say we haven’t evolved with the times.

Michigan State Spartans (3-1, KP 1)

Maui Jim Maui Invitational | Lahaina Civic Center, Maui, HI

R1: vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (5-0, KP 42)

4pm | ESPN2 | MSU -10 | O/U 133

MNW: You are excited to play Sweaty Potato Buzz Williams, I know, but...a potential reunion with Tom Creams? YES?

Andrew Kraszewski: First, your comment makes me think you maybe don’t remember Buzz Williams bailed the hell out and his program burst into flames behind him.

MNW: HOLY SHIT I FORGOT HE WENT TO TAMU. WELL FINE! JUST THE REUNION WITH CREAMS!

Seems like this Mike Young cat might be a good coach, though.

AK: Although VaTech ain’t last year’s Sweet Sixteen participant with Buzz, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Justin Robinson, and Kerry Blackshear all gone, early returns suggest there’s still some stuff to work with.

Important qualification: KenPom says their SOS to this point is dead last in Division 1. That’s right, the 353rd strongest schedule. MSU will be a small increase in difficulty.

MNW: A brief look at the VaTech wookie page has informed me their shade of maroon is “Chicago Maroon” and I’m irrationally upset about that.

R2: vs. Georgia Bulldogs (4-0, KP 62) or Dayton Flyers (3-0, KP 52)
Other Teams: Kansas Jayhawks (3-1, KP 8), Chaminade Silver Swords (D-II), BYU Cougars (3-2, KP 77), UCLA Bruins (4-1, KP 105)

AK: A matchup with everyone’s favorite Tom Arnold look-alike would be interesting if only to continue MSU’s Tour de Naismith Candidates. Anthony Edwards rightfully gets the headlines, but Rayshaun Hammonds will keep Xavier Tillman’s hands full down low as well.

I will freely admit I don’t know how Dayton has fared since Archie left for IU. And Kansas, as we all know, is cheatin’.

MNW: How do you suppose which of the two preordained finalists gets to play Chaminade in the first round?

I mean, I ultimately don’t want to sleep on BYU and their weird balding talisman of a point guard who’s probably gone on mission on Borneo and seen some shit (Haws, I think his name is?), but that Kansas gets what basically amounts to an extra day of rest feels unfair.

AK: That Kansas isn’t on scholarship reductions is likewise unfair, but that’s life as Rock Chalk, my dude.

MNW: So how do the Spartans finish? Get to the final, and flip a coin when they’re there?

AK: Most likely a trip to the final and loss to Kansas. That’s just how we do it in the early season.

Michigan State vs. Georgia

1:30pm | ESPN2 | MSU -14 | O/U 150

Well, that all aged poorly. The Hokies shot the lights out, Xavier Tillman was off his game, Sparty turned it over 20-odd times, and that’s not how you win basketball games. So it’s time for Tom Creams!

Poll

How do the Spartans finish up in Maui?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    Fifth
    (24 votes)
  • 47%
    Runners-up: Still suck it, Cheatin'-ass Kansas
    (24 votes)
  • 0%
    Sixth
    (0 votes)
  • 3%
    At least we beat Chaminade!
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    We lost to Chaminade :(
    (1 vote)
51 votes total Vote Now

Wisconsin Badgers (4-1, KP 38)

Legends Classic | Barclays Center | Brooklyn, NY

R1: vs. Richmond Spiders (4-0, KP 92)

6pm | ESPN2 | wisc -6 | O/U 134.5

MC: Richmond has started out the season well but hasn’t really played anyone yet; Vanderbilt might be their best win. Wisconsin is really starting to find a groove as the roster settles into their expanded roles. I always picture Richmond as a mid-major your team wants to avoid and this spread has me a tiny bit nervous, but the Spiders haven’t lived up to that reputation in years. Wisconsin needs a double digit win to feel good here.

[Narrator: He was right to be nervous.]

R2: vs. New Mexico Lobos (5-1, KP 90)

4pm | ESPN2 | wisc -6 | O/U 139.5

MC: This game is going to move so, so much faster than its counterpart. Auburn is potentially the best team of the bunch but are unproven so far this season with no win coming close to Wisconsin’s Marquette triumph. The SEC’s flag bearer has already lost at home to Evansville, so there’s potential to grab a decent win from this game.

Poll

After grabbing a New York slice, the badgers finish...

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    First over Auburn
    (17 votes)
  • 4%
    First over New Mexico
    (3 votes)
  • 27%
    Second to Auburn
    (20 votes)
  • 1%
    Second to New Mexico
    (1 vote)
  • 16%
    Third
    (12 votes)
  • 28%
    Turns out the interview was actually the next day
    (21 votes)
74 votes total Vote Now

Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-2, KP 139)

Cayman Islands Classic | John Gray Gymnasium, George Town, Cayman Islands

R1: vs. Washington State Cougars (2-2, KP 151)

6:30pm | FloHoops ($) | Wazzu -1 | O/U 143

R2: vs. George Mason Patriots (5-1, KP 153)

6:30pm | FloHoops ($) | UNL -2 | O/U 136

MNW: It looks like the Cougs don’t shoot particularly well and don’t rebound well either, but...uh, I guess they take care of the basketball? That’s about it?

Jesse: Yes! This is actually the type of team Nebraska should want to play. A real Power 5 team who can’t do anything useful.

To beat Nebraska, all you really need to do is rebound the basketball. Southern shot horrendously from the field, allowed an insane amount of open shots, but just rebounded the damn basketball. Wazzu might not be able to just do that!

MNW: So it’s a Rutgers-style game: Shoot, crash, see what happens? Has anyone been emerging for the Huskers as a particularly worthy player of note?

Jesse: Well, sorta. Cam Mack is the guy for Nebraska right now in that he is a slash to the hoop and hope you can get a shot or get fouled. Unfortunately for him he’s also shooting like 55% from the FT line, so that’s not always working out. Jervay Green is fast as hell and Dachon Burke is a bonafied D1 basketball player. But uh, I just told you three guards.

Our best inside presence right now is 6’8” Kevin Cross who shows a ton of potential but who is also a Freshman trying to figure things out on the fly. This is very much a team that turned over its entire roster from last year and has not gotten a ton of playing time together.

MNW: Well, Wazzu does have two forwards at 6’8” and 6’9” (Jeff Pollard and Aljaz Kunc) that will crash the boards, but I’m not seeing anything inspiring. BUT holy shit the hair on Wazzu standout CJ Elleby.

Other Teams: Colorado State Rams (3-2, KP 146), New Mexico State Aggies (2-3, KP 94), Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (3-2, KP 108), South Florida Bulls (2-2, KP 127)

Jesse: I promise you this tournament started as an offshore tax avoidance scheme by someone.

MNW: I am definitely here for any tournament where ANGRY LIZARD is the logo.

Jesse: Definitely. Like, first off, I think it’s appropriate to discuss what the hell makes this a classic.

MNW: There’s like a 50% chance it’s FloHoops, which I’m fairly certain is some sort of multi-level marketing scheme designed to, as you suggest, force you to pay $45 a month or whatever or watch all the Old Dominion hoops and UMass football you can handle, then funnel it all into a basketball tournament in a glorified church rec league gym with a Maui Wowie smoothie stand along the baseline.

Jesse: CayMax? Actually, before we riff too much, this guy is definitely laundering money for someone shady as fuck, right?

MNW: Oh my God I had literally just c/p’d that to ask you the same question.

Jesse: HE LIVES IN CARTHAGE MISSOURI

America’s Maple Leaf City... Anyhow, now that we’ve established the absolute illegitimacy of this ‘Classic’ for which there are three total years of history, I guess we can keep going forward?

MNW: Why is this tournament a thing? Why would you go all the way to the Cayman Islands to possibly lose to any of...[/clears throat] Wazzu, Old Dominion, George Mason, Loyola-Chicago, South Florida, Colorado State, or New Mexico State?

WHAT TEAM IN THERE WOULD COMPEL A MAN TO SAY “YES, THIS IS THE TOURNAMENT FOR ME.”

Jesse: It’s the battle of KenPom 125-150 ranked teams!

MNW: This reminds me of 2-3 years ago when Iowa played in some similarly shit Caribbean island tournament and lost to teams like South Dakota State and Northwest Louisiana A&T while I streamed it on some illegal site because I have a real problem.

Jesse: Nebraska could very well find itself in a similar situation. Outside of some legitimately awful Pac-12 teams, the Cornhuskers are easily the worst team in P5 basketball right now.

MNW: Wazzu just lost to Omaha and has already lost to Santa Clara in Pullman, facts which I would think would look pretty pathetic, but...

Jesse: Legitimately, the best team in this tournament is New Mexico State, who got beat up by UTEP!

MNW: Anything else you think we should know about the Huskers heading into the Cayman Tax Avoidance Classic? Any idea of how they finish up?

Jesse: I think Nebraska has a chance to win a game, so that’s a plus?

Honestly, these teams are all so unimpressive. Everyone here is trying to hide money from the government trying to get some experience while they still can. Give me the win over Wazzu and then like a dumb loss to Old Dominion or something. Should be fun!

Poll

Random number generator: How do the Huskers finish?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    1
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    2
    (1 vote)
  • 11%
    3
    (9 votes)
  • 11%
    4
    (9 votes)
  • 14%
    5
    (11 votes)
  • 6%
    6
    (5 votes)
  • 3%
    7
    (3 votes)
  • 10%
    8
    (8 votes)
  • 35%
    After being cleaved in two by the Highlander and smote by the Thunderbird, you roll a + 10 constitution initiative
    (27 votes)
77 votes total Vote Now

Northwestern Wildcats (2-2, KP 113)

Fort Myers Tip-Off | Suncoast Credit Union Arena, Fort Myers, FL

R1: vs. Bradley Braves (4-1, KP 117)

7:30pm | FS1 | Bradley -2 | O/U 129

If anything, I feel like Northwestern should be apologizing to Bradley for ruining its strength of schedule on the year.

It’ll be fun to see if the Braves can keep their momentum from the 2019 NCAA Tournament rolling under Brian Wardle—they certainly have the components to made it a long day for the ‘Cats, harrying teams into horrible shooting percentages from outside and forcing lots of turnovers. Hopefully Chris Collins & Co. look at their splits inside, though, and realize that getting to the hoop is the answer. 6’7” junior F Elijah Childs will cause problems, and C Koch Bar should be a tough test for Ryan Young, but Northwestern will have size to create mismatches with the Braves’ off guard. Here’s hoping they can exploit it.

But let’s just accept it right now: The Braves are 5th (!!!) in the country on the offensive glass, picking up a cool 41% of their misses. Gulp.

R2: vs. Kansas State Wildcats (4-0, KP 59) or Pittsburgh Panthers (4-2, KP 81)

This tournament, on the whole...might not suck? K-State is a perennial NCAA Tournament team under Bruuuuuuuuuuuuce, and Pitt could be on the come-up under Jeff Capel until he is inevitably busted for some recruiting violations that you can’t get away with at Not-Duke.

Also, this amazing line from the official tournament preview:
Overall, the four teams participating in the 2019 Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off boast a combined 111 postseason tournament appearances, including 67 NCAA Tournament bids, seven Final Four berths and 48 conference championships.
NORTHWESTERN CONTRIBUTES:

  • 1.5%: ONE NCAA TOURNAMENT BID
  • 6.3%: SEVEN NIT BIDS
  • 0.0%: ZERO CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS

I never thought I would be in the position to apologize for Northwestern in a basketball tournament featuring Bradley, Pitt, and fucking K-State, but here I am.

Anyway, the other Purple Wildcats are one of the best defensive teams in the country, and I’m terrified for how bad they will make Northwestern look if they play. We’re stuck hoping that the strides made by F Pete Nance and the breakout of Young aren’t made up. A win in Fort Myers would feel like a victory.

Poll

The 'Cats finish...

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    dead fuckin' last
    (38 votes)
  • 17%
    a pity consolation championship! hang that banner, Jim Phillips!
    (12 votes)
  • 8%
    second, a loss to Pitt
    (6 votes)
  • 15%
    second, a loss to Bruce, who still won't GET OFF THE FUCKING COURT
    (11 votes)
  • 4%
    improbably, first
    (3 votes)
70 votes total Vote Now

Also Playing Basketball

Monday

Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0, KP 7)

vs. Kent State Golden Flashes (5-0, KP 110)
5:30pm | BTN | OSU -17.5 | O/U 135

Indiana Hoosiers (5-0, KP 26)

vs. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (5-0, KP 86)
7:30pm | BTN | IU -11 | O/U 139

Tuesday

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-1, KP 82)

vs. NJIT Highlanders (2-4, KP 194)
6pm | BTN

Illinois Fighting Illini (5-1, KP 41)

vs. Lindenwood Lions (D-II)
7pm | BTN+


Here's your open thread for the next couple days' basketball. Behave, talk hoops, and enjoy Feast Week!