Well. That was certainly a weekend. Purdue started it by scoring 31 points in a half and then almost not scoring that in an entire game, ranked Penn State dispatched ranked Iowa in a potential preview for all of 2020 to be one big fever dream...but snapping us back to reality was that Michigan State flew highest (again).
We asked the OTE writers for their rapid reactions to the games, and here’s what we got:
Thursday, January 2
#14 Michigan State Spartans 76, Illinois Fighting Illini 56
Andrew K: Hard to complain about a 20-ish point win, even at home, over a mid-tier conference opponent. Winston didn’t look any worse for the wear after a game off, but more importantly, his backup platoon of Loyer and Watts looked much more serviceable.
Xavier Tillman will deservedly get the headlines for a head-turning stat line of 19/7/6/4 on 7/10 shooting, but an under the radar takeaway for MSU could be a quietly strong defensive/rebounding performance from Marcus Bingham Jr., who decisively won his matchup with Kofi Cockburn. He struggled a lot more in his limited time guarding Giorgi Bezhanishvili, but if he can deal with a more straightforward power mover like Cockburn, it’s a big step in the right direction and a possible resolution to MSU’s season-long search for its leading front court partner for Tillman. And hopefully Bingham’s nice-looking deep stroke eventually hits home here and there.
Thump: How the fuck can’t we offense anymore? I am sick of this dribble weave bullshit, it is taking me back to the Groce era. Underwood’s rotations are terrible and he doesn’t know how to assemble a machine out of the parts on his desk.
Oh damn, I need to get back on the basketball court because my three point shooting is probably dynamite now. I haven’t been playing much, but i have been pretty diligently doing what the Fighting Illini are doing to remedy a 3 for 28 performance:
Back to work #Illini x #EveryDayGuys pic.twitter.com/lDO4Vxrh4r— Illinois Basketball (@IlliniMBB) January 3, 2020
Purdue Boilermakers 83, Minnesota Golden Gophers 78 (2OT)
Boilerman31: TONIGHT SHALL BE A GLORIOUS HOLIDAY AS TREVION WILLIAMS HAS HIT TWO CONSECUTIVE FREE THROWS.
This game has been glorious and stupid and wonderful and I never want to play it again.
WhiteSpeedReceiver: Awww damnit.
Friday, January 3
Wisconsin Badgers 61, #5 Ohio State Buckeyes 57
beezer07: Seems like a valuable and important victory for the Wisconsin Badgers.
MC ClapYoHandz: HELL YEAH.
beez: With Ethan Happ and Khalil Iverson gone, Wisconsin is the best FT shooting team in the conference. Huh. Gonna take a few years to reset my brain re: garbage free throw shooting.
MC: Semi-related tangent but I wish missing the front end of a 1-and-1 was recorded as missing two shots. The difference would be even more drastic!
This team is officially confusing, as your reigning Legends Classic last-place finishers have now rattled off road wins at Tennessee and #5 OSU after losing every neutral/road game up to that point. We want Rutgers!
Rutgers Scarlet Knights 79, Nebraska Cornhuskers 62
Jesse Collins: Let’s see here... Ah yes, Rutgers had as many Offensive Rebounds as Nebraska did Defensive Rebounds. That’s uh... not good.
Additionally, shooting 31.7% from the field just won’t do it. Nebraska was battered inside all night as is tradition and the long year continues.
BRT: As my colleague has noted above, things didn’t go particularly well for Nebraska. They simply do not have a rebounding presence, and until they do, there will be many more games like this. A nasty collision involving Cam Mack and a Rutgers player I can’t be bothered to look up shortly before halftime also removed arguably the Huskers’ best player for a stretch of critical minutes (happily, he returned in the second half.)
However, if there is a bright side, it’s that you can see some glimmers of what this team is attempting to do. The effort was good, if the execution wasn’t, and they’re starting to look slightly more cohesive as a team. Is that a pretty low bar? Yes. But that’s where Nebrasketball is at this year—watching for signs of improvement is going to be what Husker fans should reasonably hope for for this group and season.
Saturday, January 4
#15 Maryland Terrapins 75, Indiana Hoosiers 59
DJ Carver: Maryland started slow, shocking I know, but added some great defense into that mix to keep the game close in the first 8 minutes. After that they slowly pulled away in the first half with stifling defense that held Indiana to 7% from three until a few meaningless ones in the last two minutes of the game. This continued into the second half with Maryland stretching its lead to as much as 30 points with 4 to go behind solid play from Jalen Smith and Aaron Wiggins.
Also Archie is an asshole for leaving his starters in the last three minutes when down 30, but more importantly for using the press against Maryland’s walk ons to cut the margin of victory to 16. Its a dumb thing to care about but when you’re down 30 that seems like the biggest dick move ever when the other team calls off the dogs to end it.
Candystripes for Breakfast: IU Athletics took last week off. These are the things I must tell myself to stay sane-ish.
#21 Penn State Nittany Lions 89, #23 Iowa Hawkeyes 86
Stewmonkey13:This was a helluva fun game. At the Palestra, the famed Philly basketball cathedral, both teams were amped and it felt like a tourney game. Fast paced, almost frenetic at times, it was mostly back and forth with the largest lead being 8 points, I believe.
Ultimately, Iowa ran out of steam in the second half as CJ Frederick day with an ankle injury. The stars for both teams, Lamar Stevens and Luka Garza, both out on a show. Great game, sucks that Iowa lost.
pkloa: Nickname time: Pat Chambers, the White Lion. Thumbs up or down?
Pat Chambers: The White Lion?
This poll is closed
Sunday, January 5
#14 Michigan State Spartans 87, #12 Michigan Wolverines 69
Juwan Howard was given a technical for coming onto the court while the ball was in play. Looks like someone was watching film of Tom Izzo and just assumed it was OK for everyone to do that. Rookie mistake. He’ll learn with more experience.— Scott Bell (@sbell021) January 5, 2020
Andrew K: MSU made use of its early-conference homestand by dispatching Illinois and Michigan at the Breslin.
After the Illinois game, and the job Xavier Tillman and Marcus Bingham did against the robust Illini front line, it was a little disappointing that Bingham then took a substantial step back against Michigan, watching from the bench for most of the first half. That said, Sunday was a reminder that a team built around Tillman and Cassius Winston can be just about impossible to stop. Michigan didn’t play bad defense, per se; it’s just not clear what the answer is for Winston when he’s on. Cassius Winston is a hundred times the player Zavier Simpson is and if you think otherwise at this point you’re a hopeless imbecile.
As long as someone else shows up most nights, this is going to be a tough team to beat - but for the record, I do see a loss coming next Sunday at Mackey.
Minnesota 77, Northwestern Wildcats 68
[This was my example to the writers before the games happened]: For example: Northwestern got 2[x] points from [insert random player here], but the rest of the team shot just 24% from the field in a disappointing 71-59 loss at Minnesota. It’s another frustrating mark, as the ‘Cats failed to defend the paint and struggled to create offense of their own.
[This was after the game]: It was Pat Spencer with 22 points, and without him the team shot 41%, but the general formula held. Another 15 offensive boards allowed.
Anthony Gaines—you know, the one who could play defense—is now out for the season after shoulder surgery, shooter Boo Buie is now injured and out indefinitely, and A.J. Turner missed the Minnesota game with an illness. Northwestern is down to 7 scholarship players. Let’s see what that’s done—
#NorthwesternBasketball https://t.co/5RFgycGzTH— Off Tackle Empire (@offtackleempire) January 6, 2020
This season is going to be a fucking disaster.
Illinois 63, Purdue 37
Boilerman31: Yep, Purdue sucks outside of Mackey. When Nojel Eastern is playing extended minutes at the 4 spot, you’re gonna have a bad day. Add in dumb turnovers leading to transition buckets and this game was over when Purdue had 7 made shots and 7 turnovers.
Now Purdue heads into a meat grinder with Michigan and Michigan State on tap. Not good.
Who had the best week in Big Ten hoops?
This poll is closed
Michigan State: Two wins are two wins.
Penn State: Ranked win, Palestra, pretty good!
wisconsin: Road win at the #5 team...not bad!
Rutgers: Still exceeding expectations!
Other: Hit the comments, please!
Who had the WORST week in Big Ten hoops?
This poll is closed
Nebraska: Holy shit, they’re bad.
Northwestern: Holy shit, everyone’s dead.
Purdue: 37 points against Illinois
Who had the best week in Big Ten basketball? Is Juwan Howard off the court yet? Let us know why Howard alone did something totally unprecedented in the history of Big Ten basketball and deserved that T, MSUFan6969; the rest of you, thread’s below. Here’s a basketball schedule for tonight if you want!