Lot of Big Ten basketball. Northwestern’s in first place. Not sure how to process it. Here we go, along with a schedule and open thread below.
Recaps: Three Up, Three Down
Up: Michigan, somehow
#19 Michigan Wolverines 80, Nebraska Cornhuskers 69
The Wolverines are 7-0 with a win against UCF that doesn’t actually look terrible. Franz Wagner is able to score in bunches. Isaiah Livers is hitting from deep and Hunter Dickinson is patrolling the inside.
Add to that games at scuffling Maryland, new-to-the-club Northwestern, a home date with Minnesota, and a trip to Penn State, and it’s not inconceivable to think about Michigan as a one-loss team or better ahead of a January 12 date with wisconsin. We’ll see if their seven-horse rotation can survive a lack of depth inside down that stretch.
Down: Iowa’s same-old
Minnesota Golden Gophers 102, #4 Iowa Hawkeyes 95 (OT)
At some point the Hawkeyes have to play defense.
Minnesota only turned the ball over 8 times and the Hawkeyes struggled to make shots from outside as Luka Garza got his routine 30+ points, with Joe Wieskamp harried into a 3/13 shooting night and Jordan Bohannon looking rushed and out-of-sorts on offense. The Hawkeyes took 78 shots and only made 29 of them, grabbing 27 offensive rebounds but failing to clamp down on Marcus Carr.
Then Carr tied the game with a late three, Brandon Johnson went absolutely fucking unconscious from deep—8/9 on the game, as even Liam Robbins got in on the action with a three from the damn logo in overtime.
At some point “every team has their best game against us” is a pretty hollow refrain, Iowa.
Up: Talk to your kids about ranked Northwestern?
Northwestern Wildcats 71, #23 Ohio State Buckeyes 70
...just look at that.
Look at that and feel bad about it.
Also, though, this is what comes next:
So is Pete Nance a real thing at stretch 5? Can Ryan Young avoid fouling out against Luka Garza? Can Boo Buie and Chase Audige chuck their way to an NCAA Tournament?
Who the fuck knows. This is all so ridiculous.
Down: Sparty’s discipline and D
#9 wisconsin badgers 85, #12 Michigan State 76
Until Christmas Day, Northwestern had won more recently in East Lansing than the badgers (God bless Kevin Coble).
Watching a Tom Izzo team struggle to stop D’Mitrik Trice from pouring in 29 points—or Boo Buie 30, for that matter—or close down Micah Potter is...well, baffling. Joey Hauser has been solid for the Spartans (with another 27 against Bucky), but Rocket Watts is scuffling and neither Malik Hall nor Thomas Kithier look like the answers inside.
At some point we’ll have to credit wisconsin, though: the badgers are moving the ball well and grinding the games in exactly the way you’d expect them to—you don’t get to Kenpom #4 (9 AdjO and 4 AdjD) with nothing.
Up: Ayo and Kofi
#18 Illinois Fighting Illini 69, Indiana Hoosiers 60
It’s a broken record, but goddamn are Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn a powerful duo. Dosunmu dropped 30—almost half of the Illini’s points—and Cockburn had 15 and 15 to win it for Brad Underwood’s squad.
Indiana, meanwhile, has not found a duo and D that can stand up to the rigors of the Big Ten—while Armaan Franklin had 23 against the Illini and Trayce Jackson-Davis has been electric, Archie Miller’s defense has struggled against deeper or just plain better B1G teams.
Down: Maryland’s go-to?
Who’s going to put it in the basket for the Terps? Chol Marial is coming along, but someone of Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins, Donta Scott, or the rest of Turgeon’s whiplash rotations has to take control eventually. Add to that Maryland’s 10/21 free throw performance—including Darryl Morsell missing two late that would’ve tied the game after a phantom goaltend gave the Boilers a free go-ahead 2—and this is a Terps club that needs someone to step up.
Who had the best week?
This poll is closed
RANKED, FIRST-PLACE NORTHWESTERN
Gophers with a home, top-5 upset
Michigan keeps rolling
badgers break the east lansing streak
Something or someone else
More enjoyably, who had the worst?
This poll is closed
All of us, for Northwestern being in first place
Big Ten Midweek Basketball Schedule
Monday, December 28
Maryland at #6 wisconsin
6pm | FS1 | wisc -9 | O/U 132.5
#17 Michigan State at #21 Minnesota
7pm | BTN | MSU -2.5 | O/U 152.5
Does Sparty lock down Marcus Carr, or can the Gophers gun their way to another win?
Tuesday, December 29
Purdue at #14 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
6pm | FS1
First to 60 wins this game. God it’s going to be so unbearably painful.
BoilerBettor: It is. It really is.
#19 Northwestern at #10 Iowa
8pm | FS1
One of the fun things about this year’s Northwestern has been Chris Collins finally prioritizing an up-tempo, transition-based offense. I’m not sure that’s the way to beat Iowa—you’ll need a good shooting night and to clamp down on Wieskamp and Bohannon—but I’ll be looking for the ‘Cats to keep it close as a sign that they’re for real.
Wednesday, December 30
Nebraska at #25 Ohio State
5:30pm | BTN
Penn State at Indiana
7:30pm | BTN
Here’s your schedule, here’s your thread. Happy midweek, everyone.