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Big Ten Basketball Midweek Previews, Open Thread

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Plus, the worst game in college basketball this week is one of the five worst possible conference matchups in all of Division 1. That’s exciting!

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

At some point over the course of the weekend we had planned to do actual recaps of the games, and then the Great Rutgers Pissing Match of January 2020 broke out:

What expositional headlines, no?

So we’re giving the weekend a pass: Purdue won at home over wisconsin, which isn’t surprising, though the halftime score resembled the inverse of a normal Purdue-wisconsin football game. Michigan choked its ass off at home against Illinois and now sits so far outside the Top 25 it should call itself Northwestern. You’re already aware of Rutgers (condolences), but it’s because they needed a last-second three from Geo Baker to beat Nebraska.

Yes, the 7-13 (2-7) Nebraska Cornhuskers. If you think this Rutgers team is great you are either an irascible homer or a complete fucking lunatic who knows nothing about basketball.

Or both.

Anyway, Sunday offered a little in the way of drama, as Maryland clawed back from 8 down after blowing a big first half lead to get a road win at Indiana. Michigan State also beat Minnesota. Hooray. Meanwhile, Ohio State Buckeyes just kind of slowly pulled away from Northwestern, who is back to being called “lowly” in those wire report recaps ESPN gives you.

It’s nice to be back to where we started in 2014. Really worth it. Great time for everyone.

Monday, January 27

wisconsin badgers at #18 Iowa Hawkeyes

7:30pm | BTN | Iowa -5.5 | O/U 135
uw: 12-8 (5-4 B1G), KP 31
IA: 14-5 (5-3), KP 14

I’ll be honest: We really just kind of fell down on this one. Stew was kind enough to handle last week’s previews and recaps, and I didn’t bother to find anyone to do this weekend. Plus, I’m busy.

So, really, I mean...is C.J. Frederick back to full health, and can he out-shoot whichever of Kobe King and Aleem Ford is going to have a good night? Can Luka Garza’s creepy eyebrows dictate inside against feather-haired Twin Cities dandy Nate Reuvers? These are all questions that could be answered.

By someone who cares.

Poll

Was it unfair that in 1992 South Dakota Republicans attempted to "Draft Bill Janklow" to run against Tom Daschle instead of teacher Charlene Haar?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Yes, complete undercut Haar’s validity as a candidate and prevented the NRSC from offering her funding.
    (4 votes)
  • 4%
    Nah, that’s politics! She wasn’t a good candidate, and Janklow’s maverick populism would’ve challenged Daschle.
    (2 votes)
  • 30%
    "challenged Daschle?!" Janklow trailed him by 30 points in late 1991 polling, you oaf!
    (15 votes)
  • 6%
    wisconsin with the road win
    (3 votes)
  • 52%
    Iowa
    (26 votes)
50 votes total Vote Now

Tuesday, January 28

Michigan Wolverines at Nebraska Cornhuskers

6pm | ESPNU
Mich: 11-8 (2-6), KP 32
UNL: 7-13 (2-7), KP 130-something, probably

Look at those records.

By the way, how do we feel about Tim Miles the TV personality? Something flashed past me on Twitter about him being a candidate for the Wyoming job (which, boy, Allen Edwards...wyd), and I feel like I’d miss him. He’s awkward as hell in the BTN studio, but when he’s on the call in a game, that fun self-deprecation is really enjoyable, for me.

BRT: Nebraska will presumably do what it has done all season—try really hard, probably fall behind by double digits at some point, then claw back into the game enough to have a theoretical chance (or real chance, as they recently did while facing the Great Rutgers) before losing. Jesse and I will watch and be kind of exasperated, but more into the Saga of Thor than we should admit. Nebraska’s best advantage in this one comes from being at home, which has proven to be a powerful talisman for teams not named Nebraska in the Big Ten this season.

Also, I love Tim Miles, always and forever. I haven’t caught a game that he’s called yet, but given my adoration of his oeuvre, I have to imagine I’d be a big fan. He’s hilarious.

Poll

Holy shit, Michigan could be behind Nebraska in the standings after this game!

This poll is closed

  • 48%
    And they will be!
    (65 votes)
  • 51%
    Nah, Michigan wins.
    (68 votes)
133 votes total Vote Now

Purdue Boilermakers at #25 Rutgers Scarlet Knights

7pm | BTN
PU: 11-9 (4-5)
RU: 15-5 (6-3)

I do not want to talk about Rutgers basketball ever again.

Who are the best balding Big Ten players you can think of over the last ten years or so? (I’m talking ring around the top bald, not “pulled out a razor and shaved it” bald.) Luka Mirkovic and Alex Olah both hold special spots for me at Northwestern, but there’s a real elegance to Evan Boudreaux’s “retired tennis pro” kind of bald.

Chief rugster correspondent Thumpasaurus: GOD DAMMIT MNW THE PEOPLE WANT THE UNVARNISHED TRUTH ABOUT RESGURT AND I WILL GLADLY LOSE MY JOB TO GIVE IT TO THEM

The ‘Gers had quite the scare as Nebraska nearly sucked all the hope out of the James Brown Athletic Center, but Gio Rescigno’s buzzer-beater kept Steny Pickett’s record perfect in Franklin Township. Now they’re in for a real test against Purdue, who’s coming off a good-looking win after getting embarrassed by elite national power* Illinois earlier.

*vanquisher of rugster despite shooting 27%

This will be an interesting one to watch, as rugster’s gritty, lunchpail, Tommy used to work on the docks, the union’s been on strike and he’s down on his luck it’s tough, so tough style will be put to the test by Purdue’s sheer thiccness. After a couple games over 140, I’d advise you bet the under here, as they’ll look to get back to #HammeringScrews down low. If Nojel Eastern ever figures out how to shoot again, this could be a tough home matchup for Ruger State.

INFORMATION WANTS TO BE FREE MNW

Poll

the ol’ PU-RU

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    poo
    (59 votes)
  • 43%
    roo
    (72 votes)
  • 21%
    scatalogical humor how sophomoric i demand my money back and also please define sophomoric, i only went to ohio state for a semester
    (36 votes)
167 votes total Vote Now

Wednesday, January 29

Northwestern Wildcats at #14 Michigan State Spartans

5:30pm | BTN
NU: 6-13 (1-8), KP 114
MSU: 15-5 (7-2), KP 7

Fuck me running.

Poll

who loses

This poll is closed

  • 100%
    northwestern
    (145 votes)
145 votes total Vote Now

Indiana Hoosiers at #24 Penn State Nittany Lions

7:30pm | BTN
IU: 15-5 (5-4), KP 38
PSU: 14-5 (4-4), KP 24

This is a football game on a down year for Penn State. I refuse to believe this is a basketball game. My prediction is that Matt McGloin throws for 320 and 3 TDs while the Hoosiers offense keeps it close early but fades in the second half.

Poll

Choose:

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Indiana
    (42 votes)
  • 49%
    Penn State
    (73 votes)
  • 21%
    Please, MNW, no more half-assed jokes. I come here for SERIOUS BASKETBALL CONTENT.
    (32 votes)
147 votes total Vote Now

Thursday, January 30

Minnesota Golden Gophers at #19 Illinois Fighting Illini

6:30pm | FS1
MN: 11-9 (5-5), KP 39
IL: 15-5 (7-2), KP 22

How...how has Illinois not lost more?

Also, for SEO porpoises: Daniel Oturu. Giorgi Bezhanishvili. (I just like spelling that one.) Kofi Cockburn, whose name, it turns out, it not pronounced the fun way.

Actually, lotta good big man basketball in this one, if you’re into that. I now expect Minnesota and Illinois to combine to shoot 50 threes.

Poll

pick

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    gophers
    (30 votes)
  • 67%
    illini
    (105 votes)
  • 13%
    i actually come here for the list of obscure basketball games MNW provides at the bottom of the article. i’ll be tuning in to weber state-southern utah on PlutoTV!
    (21 votes)
156 votes total Vote Now

#18 Iowa Hawkeyes at #15 Maryland Terrapins

7:30pm | BTN
MD: 16-4 (6-3), KP 10

I’d been mooching off DJ’s Kenpom subscription and he did not renew it. I feel pretty lost right now, personally.

Feels kind unfair that Iowa gets stuck with a road game mid-week after a Monday home game, but anything that fulfills their constant sense of grievance is kind of alright with me. Plus, if DJ’s taught me anything about Mark Turgeon, it’s that he won’t take advantage of that fact.

Poll

Which team wins by a...beak

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Birds
    (56 votes)
  • 66%
    Turtles
    (111 votes)
167 votes total Vote Now

Full Schedule

My Google Drive is giving me a bunch of error messages today, so we’ll see if this embed works today. I will, however, highlight one game this week that is, by my math (which isn’t very good):

THE WORST KENPOM GAME OF THE WEEK

Now, a lot of people might think this is just an excuse to pick on MEAC and SWAC teams—that’s not true! I believe bad basketball should be celebrated in all its glory. These kids are chasing the D-1 dream, traveling bizarre distances (especially in the WAC) to remote outposts of the college basketball landscape, playing in bizarre gyms that seat as few as 878 people or are called things like the MATADOME or the Walter Pyramid (an actual pyramid!) or look like a backyard sport court.

But there’s a certain elegance to the games between teams who know that, when they’re the 2-18 and 352nd in Kenpom and the 2-16 team that’s 348th is coming to town, this is their chance for that elusive conference win. You watch. You cheer. That wins means the world to them.

Honorable Mentions (1 per day):

Some excellent games here, including one that’s actually nationally-televised! I’m not sure how the Big South’s ESPN contract stipulated that these were the two teams to get broadcast, but two of the worst four teams in the conference seems like a great idea!

But that’s not even the worst game of the week! That honor goes to...

Worst Game of the Week

Incarnate Word Cardinals at Houston Baptist Huskies

Wednesday, 7pm | Husky Sports Network (watch live)
IW: 4-15 (1-7 Southland), KP 349
HB: 1-16 (1-7 Southland), KP 343

Holy shit. For what it’s worth, there are only four conference matchups, at this point in the season, that could be worse:

But Incarnate Word and Houston Baptist...they’re bad.

Fans of Big Ten teams will likely not remember the Huskies’ 111-68 steamrolling at the hands of Michigan; their only win was a 111-107 home upset (such as one could exist) of the Central Arkansas Bears. To make up for a crippling lack of defensive ability—Houston Baptist is 353rd, dead last, in AdjD—the Huskies sprint and are reasonable efficient with the ball (1st in AdjT and 111th in AdjO), with guard Ian DuBose leading them in every worthwhile metric. But we can’t reiterate enough: Dead fucking last in AdjD, a full 4 points worse than their nearest competitor.

Incarnate Word brings with them a zest for life, we hope, because every other metric suggests they are awful: A home loss to SIU-Edwardsville, AdjO (347) and AdjD (341) ratings near the bottom of the country, and three of their four wins against non-Division 1 opponents. A 73-70 upset of also-bad New Orleans (see above!) has been their lone bright spot, though they do have a player I am now calling THE OSLO OBELISK, 6’10” F Marcus Larsson.

You are correct: I can deep-dive Houston Baptist-Incarnate Word, but I cannot be bothered to tell you that Zavier Simpson is suspended for Michigan. Suck it.

My Pick: Houston Baptist, 98-87

And Another Thing!

There’s weird, bad East Coast basketball on in the morning on both Wednesday and Thursday, and I just... I have questions. But for those of you who work from home or just don’t give a shit in the office, you’ve got Patriot League competitors Bucknell and Army Black Knights on Wednesday morning at 10am CT, and an NEC showdown with Mount St. Mary’s at Sacred Heart on Thursday at 11am.

Why? Why do we need that?

Don’t ask questions, MNW. Just enjoy.

Open thread, rules, etc. Enjoy.