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Big Ten Hoops: RIVALRY WEEKEND Open Thread

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Crossroads Classic, Braggin’ Rights, and, above all, the BATTLE FOR THE MAYOR’S KEY. Come talk Big Ten basketball with us!

NCAA Basketball: Missouri vs Illinois Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball! Rivalry weekend! Let’s get weird.

Friday

#23 Penn State Nittany Lions (9-2, KP 25) vs. Central Connecticut Blue Devils (0-11, KP 350)

5pm | BTN | PSU -35.5 | O/U 142

The Nittany Lions are ranked! Their ranking drought had been old enough to drink. It should last through the weekend, as Central Connecticut is impressively bad — I actually watched them play at Dartmouth on Wednesday morning, and they will get swallowed up by Penn State’s size and speed. It will be ugly.

Saturday

Michigan Wolverines (8-3, KP 16) vs. Presbyterian Blue Hose (2-9, KP 337)

11am | BTN

Indiana Hoosiers (10-1, KP 33) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-3, KP 66)

11am | CBS | Crossroads Classic, Indianapolis, IN

Illinois Fighting Illini (8-3, KP 39) vs. Missouri Tigers (6-4, KP 57)

12pm | SECN | Braggin’ Rights, St. Louis, MO

Thumpasaurus Rex: What up, Cuonzo? Remember when you thought you turned the tables on Illinois by hiring some parents and getting that #4 recruiting class in the nation a few years ago? My prediction was that you’d assemble the most talented team to ever lose as a 1 seed in the second round of the NIT. I wasn’t too far off! Squeaked into the dance and lost in round 1, but you still lost to Illinois.

You managed to beat an Illinois team that lost more games than any Illini team of all time last year! That probably kept you feeling warm and fuzzy and away from meth good about yourself as you missed every postseason tournament.

Guess what? The Porters are gone now! That shit happens when you fast-track surefire NBA players. What do you have to show for it? A first round loss and a split record against some god-awful Illinois teams.

Oh, but there’s still the matter of Jeremiah Tilmon and Mark Smith, and to a lesser extent Javon Pickett. Smith was complete ass at Illinois and then was indignant when he wasn’t getting starter minutes. As for Tilmon, yeah I guess he looked pretty good against our one playable big last year, but he’s got nothing for Kofi Cockburn.

I said on the podcast that Cockburn is the best Illini basketball player I’ve ever seen firsthand, and I stand by it. He’s taken experienced, talented, well-coached big men to school, so I wonder how he’ll handle a raw high-upside prospect that hasn’t improved at all under your shit-ass coaching.

Congrats on beating an overachieving Temple for what’s by MILES your best win! You sure showed everyone that you’d probably be one of the better teams in the mushy middle of the American! That doesn’t make us forget that you lost to Charleston Southern.

Get fucked, Mizzou, then get the fuck out of our city and retreat back to the hillbilly-ass interior of the state, back to Columbia, where you can’t tell the Great Depression ever ended.

Purdue Boilermakers (7-4, KP 9) vs. #17 Butler Bulldogs (10-1, KP 10)

1:30pm | BTN | Crossroads Classic, Indianapolis, IN

Boilerman31: Ahh, Butler, the darling child basketball program of Indiana, pardon me while I dry heave. They do things “the Butler Way” which puts them on par in my heart with the St. Louis fucking Cardinals and their annoying as fuck fans. Also, Hinkle Fieldhouse is an old shithole, (disAssembly Hall is up there as well, with its balcony and half the seats above the scoreboard concept) convince me otherwise. There are two things I will give the Bulldogs: First, they have one of the best mascots in all of basketball. Not that it’s original, but that it’s a live bulldog. Second, they tend to make me money when I bet on them in Vegas, so there’s that.

Fortunately, this game isn’t played in Hinkle with the weird lighting and awful sightlines. This is another one of those games that should be close to a 50-50 game. If Matt Haarms can go, he must dominate to keep Butler from shutting down Purdue’s shooters. Unfortunately, Purdue’s record in the Crossroads Classic is awful. They never seem to be able to get motivated for this series. Expect it to be close and take the under.

Milwaukee Panthers (5-6, KP 248) at wisconsin badgers (5-5, KP 51)

4pm | BTN

MC ClapYoHandz: Wisconsin should be fine here for two reasons:

  • One, it’s a home game which is where Wisconsin looks like a Top 25 team, undefeated with wins over Marquette and Indiana. We’ll save their Bottom 25 road resume for another day.
  • Two, finally, finally, Micah Potter gets to make his Badger debut, providing some much needed frontcourt depth and relieving some pressure on Nate Reuvers. First game at full strength plus Milwaukee not being good should equal a win.

#5 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-1, KP 2) vs. #6 Kentucky Wildcats (8-2, KP 15)

4:15pm | CBS | Las Vegas, NV

I watched Kentucky lose to Utah in Vegas the other night (why do they play two games back-to-back in Vegas and OSU just shows up?), and my goodness, there is no fanbase in college basketball more insufferable than the 10,000 drunken Big Blue Boors Nation that showed up and hooted and hollered its way through that shit. It was a pleasure to watch the Yoots hold on after blowing a 17-point lead with 10 minutes to play.

Anywho, I’d be curious to see the Buckeyes sag off the Wildcats and force them into shooting threes (they’re among the worst in the nation from deep). Kaleb Wesson will get more of a test from Nick Richards inside than he’s gotten more places this year—it’s a level of athleticism he’s not seen—but whether Duane Washington Jr. and DJ Carton can win the guard matchups with Ashton Hagans and Tyrese Maxey...that remains to be seen.

Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-5, KP 63) at Oklahoma State Cowboys (8-2, KP 31)

4:30pm | ESPN2 | Tulsa, OK

We get it, Richard Pitino—you played a tough non-conference schedule. Might want to start winning some of these.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-6, KP 128) vs. North Dakota Fighting Hawks (5-7, KP 252)

5pm | BTN+

Jesse Collins: Nebraska plays what looks to be a decidedly mediocre North Dakota basketball team who has wins against FGCU (KenPom 323), Georgia Southern (KP 168), and a slew of NAIA schools. They turn the ball over an awful lot coming in at 15.1 per game and they are pretty bad defensively.

I’d argue that this game shouldn’t be remotely close, but since Nebraska still has to prove that this two game stretch is indicative of the future and not just an anomaly, I’m going to be a little guarded.

Worth noting? North Dakota has players from Latvia, Serbia, Lithuania, France, and a bunch of random towns like York, NE and Anchorage, AK. Just kind of an interesting roster build.

Michigan State Spartans (8-3, KP 5) vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles (9-1, KP 174)

6pm | BTN

Andrew Kraszewski: MSU shouldn’t need to break out the Lewis guns in this Emu War, but there are some lingering issues they could really use some resolution on before returning to conference play, particularly on the wing.

Now that it’s confirmed Josh Langford isn’t coming back, the pending return of Rocket Watts is all the more anticipated (though it doesn’t seem sure at this point that he’ll play Saturday). If he plays, one assumes his minutes will be limited, but MSU really needs him at both the point and 2.

Northwestern Wildcats (5-5, KP 98) at DePaul Blue Demons (11-1, KP 64)

7:30pm | CBSSN | Battle for the Mayor’s Key

MNW: Get dicked, DePaul. The Mayor’s Key will stay in Evanston, no matter what LincolnParkWildcat and his crap Blue Demon followers say.

Honestly, this one will come down to whichever team establishes its tempo of choice. The Blue Demons like to run, with their organized chaos of a defense running teams off the three-point line and crashing the boards hard. Paul Reed and Jaylen Butz will give Ryan Young and Jared Jones all they can handle inside, and it might come down to whether Pete Nance can use his length to get by them on offense.

Other than that, who emerges as Northwestern’s answer to Charlie Moore? Max Strus is finally fucking gone, but DePaul just found another bulk scorer (along with Jalen Coleman-Lands) who distributes the ball well in Charlie Moore. Whether it’ll be Boo Buie, Pat Spencer, or maybe Miller Kopp gunning from outside (that’s my pick for the ‘Cats Random Scorer of the Game, sponsored by Coke Zero), Northwestern will need another 25-point game from someone to keep the Key where it belongs.

Fuck you, DePaul.

Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

8pm | BTN

Sunday

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (8-3, KP 56) vs. Lafayette Leopards (7-2, KP 186)

12pm | ESPNU

The Leopards are basically what Rutgers should be—a Patriot League team—but one that can score rather than defend. I would look for Myles Johnson or Ron Harper to have a big game here, crashing the boards and harrying the Leopards offense.