College basketball is back! For some of you, that’s exciting. For others, maybe not! But if that’s not your cup of tea, there’s also MACtion kicking off tonight! Here are some* previews of the week’s games and an open thread to talk basketball, football, and everything in between.
Tuesday, November 5
6pm | BTN | Mich -16.5 | O/U 147
6pm | BTN+ | IU -21 | O/U 143
Candystripes: The first official game of the season for the Hoosiers, this should be a nice shakedown cruise for a team with a lot of potential that might need a game or two to properly find its footing. Players to watch for the Hoosiers are Trayce Jackson-Davis, the highly touted freshman forward, and Rob Phinisee, Indiana’s best (and possibly only true) point guard [definitely not words that scare me to type, not in the slightest].
Also, Western Illinois is the only non-military institution to officially have its nickname derived from a branch of the military service, a fact you and I both just learned from Wikipedia today. You’re welcome.
Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks
6pm | BTN+ | PSU -31.5 | O/U 135.5
I always forget that the Eastern Shore of Maryland is part of the Delmarva, and that there’s a little smidgen of Virginia on the southern tip of Maryland, hanging off like a dingleberry. I expect this game to resemble that dingleberry.
6:30pm | BTN+ | MD -28 | O/U 140.5
MNW: I am personally very unhappy about this game, as I had looked forward to Bill Carmody having one last go-’round with the Big Ten. I hope Holy Cross loses by 50.
DJ: I’m also personally very unhappy about this game. I can’t watch it, stupid BTN+ for two games an entire year. Maryland will be debuting freshmen Donta Scott and Makhi Mitchell, both who should contribute a great amount this season and there is already an argument that the former should perhaps be starting already if Maryland would go small ball. Turgeon rarely curb stomps a team, so I’d take Holy Cross to cover.
7pm | BTN+ | Illinois -22.5 | O/U 150.5
7pm | BTN+ | MN -22 | O/U 146
WSR: All I know about Cleveland State is that they’re going to get NCAA punishment the next time Kentucky gets caught. I’d like to see Alihan Demir and Jarvis Omersa have a decent game at the PF, because that appears to be the biggest concern for the team right now.
8pm | ESPNU | SMC -4.5 | O/U 129
Sanford Pentagon, Sioux Falls, SD
MC: Pretty huge test right out of the gate considering how many question marks there are with this team as it tries to figure out its identity after four years of The Ethan Happ Show.
Barring a swift miracle from the NCAA, Micah Potter will still be ineligible for this one and Wisconsin will be razor thin in the frontcourt. Joe Hedstrom may be forced into action despite not looking ready for meaningful minutes in the exhibition game. Look for Wisconsin to play small ball with a very tired Nate Reuvers. I am also interested in seeing how aggressive Aleem Ford is attacking the basket and if Kobe King, who has the tools to be the best scorer on this team, follows suit.
8pm | BTN | UNL -15.5 | O/U 143
Jesse Collins: We got 11 new members on the roster, Fred Hoiberg as coach, potentially decent shooters and zero size so we won’t rebound a damn thing. We will look awesome for stretches and get murdered by teams who are simply good. I can barely name 3 players on this team so we will have to learn as we go.
#1 Michigan State Spartans vs. #2 Kentucky Wildcats
8:30pm | ESPN | MSU -13 | O/U 140.5
State Farm Champions Classic, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Andrew K: Miiiiiinor challenge out of the gate and if I’m being honest, it would be very consistent with MSU’s historical trend to drop this game and 2 or 3 others of this inhumane noncon. Kentucky flipped a couple of their better guys to the league per usual, but return Ashton Hagans and add, among others, former MSU targets Keion Brooks and Tyrese Maxey to join him. Gotta hope MSU’s young wings are ready to roll without Josh Langford.
Kent State Golden Flashes (3-5, 2-2 MAC) at Toledo Rockets (5-3, 2-2)
6pm | CBSSN | Toledo -6 | O/U 63.5
Ball State Cardinals (4-4, 3-1) at Western Michigan Broncos
7pm | ESPN2 | WMU -6.5 | O/U 64
As I sit here frantically finishing this at 4:15pm, I am praying my wife doesn’t get home before it gets dark out, because I really want to just post up on the couch all night and watch these excellent games instead of bagging leaves.
Did you know Kent State is kind of decent? ME NEITHER! The Flashes have started to fade in MAC play, but dual-threat QB Dustin Crum (67% completion for 10 TD/1 INT and 92 rushes for 374 yards) has two talented RBs in Jo’el Shaw and Will Matthews. Maybe they make this a game!
If not, why not give Balls Tate-WMU a try in a matchup of the West front-runners? I don’t think Brogan Roback is a player on one of these two teams, but he remains a nice MACtiony name. Caleb Huntley will carry the water for the Robotbirds’ rush attack, but Drew Plitt can toss it around pretty nice, too. We’ll see! I’m still not picking against Levante Bellamy and Tim Lester’s club.
Wednesday, November 6
#23 Purdue Boilermakers vs. Green Bay Phoenix
6pm | BTN
Boilerman: YAY! BASKETBALL IS BACK!
Green Bay (Don’t you dare call them UWGB anymore) finished the season by losing in the CIT Final. They finished 4th in the Horizon League and return a full complement of seniors on their roster. They are coached by former Boilermaker alum Linc Darner. Expect the Boilers to dominate the paint. Between the flowing locks of Matt Haarms and physicality of Trevion Williams, the Phoenix and their lack of size will have their hands full. This should be a good tuneup for Matt Painter’s group with Texas inbound this weekend.
My prediction: Boilers dominate early and cruise late.
7:30pm | FS1
7pm | ESPN2 | Ohio -7 | O/U 54
The Battle of the Bricks! Midweek MACtion rivalries are what it’s all about, man. If you’re bored by Ohio State-Cincinnati (let’s be real, you’re not watching Purdue-Green Bay even if the Phoenix are kind of fun), this is the one to hit.
Thursday, November 7
6pm | BTN
Friday, November 8
Northwestern Wildcats vs. Merrimack Warriors
7pm | BTN+
MNW: Welcome to D-1 basketball, Merrimack! (That’s not totally true, as you’ll have played Maine by this time Wednesday, but whatever.)
As this is almost the definition of a tomato can game, the ‘Cats should roll. I’d love to see Chris Collins able to empty the bench after a good opening showing from Boo Buie and Jared Jones and the like. The reigning NE10 champions don’t have anyone over 6’8” but looked as comfortable playing a 51-46 grinder as they were a 104-72 fun-and-gun, so it’ll be imperative on Collins to prove that this Northwestern team is actually going to run the floor and score points.
I’ll be curious to see if they can pull it off.
wisconsin vs. Eastern Illinois Panthers
7pm | BTN+
8pm | BTN
Stew: The biggest question around is if Jordan Bohannon will suit up. He played all last season with a bum him and about 6 months ago had surgery to fix it. The speculation was that it would for sure cause him to redshirt this season. However, after Iowa media day it sounded like he was practicing again and would attempt to give it a shot.
Otherwise, there’s a lot of newcomers to the team and it’s going to be interesting to see how the pieces fit. How does Joe Toussaint fit in at the point? Did redshirting help Jack Nunge? Is Joe Wieskamp ready to lead? What’s it like with Connor McCaffery and lil’ bro Patrick McCaffery?
Illinois at Grand Canyon Antelopes
8pm | ESPN3
MNW: Thump might not want to talk about this one, but I sure do. The ‘Lopes are damn fun, and they’ve grabbed TCU PG Jaylen Fisher (you’ll know him when you see him) to help Dan Majerle’s squad finally make the NCAA Tournament.
Watch the Havocs turn GCU Arena into their own weird little rave and try to throw the high-pressure Illini off their game. This one will be fun.