FOOTBALL. BIG TEN BASKETBALL. What more could you need?
FCS football has kicked off, with the majority of programs in the NCAA’s second tier taking the field for an abbreviated season of spring football—only Stephen F. Austin, Central Arkansas, Eastern Kentucky, Houston Baptist, Abilene Christian, Campbell, and North Alabama played a fall-only schedule. Last week McNeese State came back to beat FCS newcomer Tarleton State, 40-37, in overtime in the Texans’ D-I curtain-raiser, and last night ranked Missouri Valley action kicked off, with South Dakota State downing UNI on the road.
More broadly, all this was supposed to be folded into a Don’t Watch This; Watch That piece, but I got busy and the remnants are below.
If you’re not from ‘round these parts, here’s what DWT;WT is.
Basically, you’re a busy person. I like you. I want you to use your valuable sports viewing time well. Did I mention you’re good looking?
Each week, I focus on something stupid from my range of interests—basically just history, cool maps and shit, and college nicknames—and tell you about it. Beer, too.
This past week, watching Rutgers basketball clang-and-bang their way to a home win over...well, probably somebody, I was struck by the stain of New Jersey at mid-court of the RAC:
Intricate as hell. Not an island or beach or inlet untouched, seemingly, though perhaps a New Jerseyan (Jerseyite?) would disagree.
I looked for all the center court stains with a state outline, and Rutgers was my runaway winner. The dark stain still pops underneath the heaaaaavy Block R of Rutgers, and the inlets and capes really look cool on TV.
I can’t speak to the quality of the river here—something tells me corners were cut on the Missouri River’s nooks and crannies. And no love for Carter Lake? I demand ACCURACY in my center-court stains.
Say what you will about the ‘90s-ass Huskers script, but it works atop that darker stain. A definite winner, though points off for border accuracy and degree of difficulty.
3. Ohio State
Then there’s Ohio State, with an admirable attempt at the Ohio River’s meandering course along its southern border.
It’s apparently, however, possible to be under-stained. And that leads me to my fourth-best center court:
I think the shape of Illinois is a really strong one with the Block I logo, but I don’t care for the stain that’s lighter than the surrounding court—it washes out on TV.
Honorable Mention: Penn State
No, the Lions don’t have the outline of Pennsylvania at half-court—that’d look ridiculous with the lion head already framed in the oval—but they do opt for a center court stain we need to talk about:
I’m hard pressed to figure out which is dumber here: the ugly WE ARE font, or Arizona football’s terrible-looking BEAR DOWN in a faded print spanning half their field.
But they’re not the worst of this bunch.
I have very little patience for bad geography, and this one screams GRAPHIC DESIGN IS MY PASSION. What makes it more disappointing is that it’s a school that I think would care about its basketball court:
What the hell is this center court?
I don’t particularly care if it’s tradition; that sucks.
Short Big Ten Basketball Previews
11am | ESPN | IU -6 | O/U 134.5
Did you need MORE incentive not to watch this game?
12 ET, @dandakich & I have Michigan St.-Indiana.— Jason Benetti (@jasonbenetti) February 20, 2021
2 ET, @espnbob & @DickieV have Texas Tech-Kansas
4, @tom_hart & @DalenCuff have Auburn-LSU
6, Doug Sherman & @CoryAlexanderVA have L'ville-UNC
8, @DShulman_ESPN & @JayBilas have UVA-Duke
All on ESPN.
This has been a promo.
a dakich special is
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a filthy act involving a train station bathroom, a ham loaf, and two pigeons
#5 Illinois Fighting Illini at Minnesota Golden Gophers
2:30pm | FOX | Illinois -4.5 | O/U 147
WSR: Gophers are playing Illinois. That’s bad. Gophers are hosting Illinois. That’s good. I don’t trust that little nagging voice that tells me that the Gophers will win and Carr vs. Ayo will be a blast.
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4:30pm | BTN | Purdue -7 | OU 136
BoilerBettor: Purdue should win just based off of rest, momentum, and frankly, better talent.
That said, I don’t trust the Boilers in this spot. Stupid shit happens at PBA. Trevion Williams should get his fairly easily but if our shooters can’t get going from 3, this will be a much closer game than it should be.
I think Purdue wins but expect it to be a sweat.
pick your level of moisture
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purdue, dry as an actor in a deodorant commercial
purdue, with a considerable amount of pit staining
high fructose corn syrup for everyone
#3 Michigan Wolverines at #4 Ohio State Buckeyes
12pm | CBS
Maximum Sam: As everyone predicted before the season, Michigan skates into Ohio State in a matchup of two current 1 seeds. Michigan’s front line of Ents has been quite impenetrable and also difficult to guard, leading to the 7th ranked offense and defense on KenPom. OSU counters with their merry band of hobbits, who have been even tougher to guard, leading to the third ranked offense in the country. Unfortunately, their short arms and legs have made defending more of a chore (66th).
Michigan came back from a long COVID layoff to pick off Wisconsin and handle Rutgers. Their dominance is no mystery, as giant sloth Hunter Dickinson protects the rim and is also a load under the basket. Surrounding him are Isaiah Livers and Franz Wagner, two long, tall wings who will get after it on defense. Wagner especially is a surprising menace and is shooting up draft boards everywhere. With that imposing front line, the back court mostly exists to attack shooters and make open shots.
Ohio State’s dominance is more mysterious. They play 11 guys, none of them are over 6’8’’, and they haven’t started a point guard in weeks. Still, they’ve cobbled together an excellent offense, mostly by being kind of good at everything. They can shoot threes, and they can get inside, and they have mastered the lost art of shooting jump shots. They get to the line, they make free throws, and they don’t turn the ball over. They also trot out what seems like hundreds of different lineups, so Chris Holtmann isn’t shy about experimenting to find a lineup that works.
This promises to be a fun game. Both teams play very sound basketball on both ends, and while Michigan is the more talented team, Ohio State is deeper. The key things to watch will be how Dickinson handles the flood of double teams OSU will throw at him. If he is able to score quickly or get the ball out, Michigan will be in great shape. On the other end, Michigan is great at forcing teams into tough two point shots. OSU is comfortable taking those shots, and keeping that trend up is key to staying afloat. If they can get inside and draw some fouls, they will be in good shape to win this very special version of The Game.
RockyMtnBlue: Well, this timing could be better. OSU is blowing the brakes off everyone they play, and Michigan is coming off two single-digit wins against badly-fading Wisconsin and a willing, but undermanned Rutgers squad in Ann Arbor.
You’d like to think Michigan’s size up front would give OSU some problems, but OSU hasn’t had trouble with other big teams. You’d like to think Michigan’s defense could at least slow down the nation’s #4 offense in OSU, but OSU is fantastic behind the 3pt line and Michigan’s guards are elves escaped from the Keebler tree.
None of this matters.
There is no universe where Luka Garza gets called for fouls.
There is no universe where Brad Davison doesn’t punch guys in the nuts.
And there is no universe where Ohio State doesn’t beat the holy hell out of Michigan in any sport, any time.
Eat at Arby’s.
choose RMB’s order
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sad roast beef and curly fries
sad potato cakes
sad one of everything
CELEBRATORY JAMOCHA SHAKE
Maryland Terrapins at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
2pm | BTN
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4pm | BTN
Stew: Iowa is good. Penn State is not. Hopefully it should be that simple. That being said here are a couple of things to look for.
Luka Garza was a monster and very much the best player in the country he’s hyped to be against wisconsin. Does he keep that up, or does he look a bit more human like the previous few games?
CJ Frederick has been day to day and been playing limited minutes and is still recovering from a lower leg injury. However, in those minutes he’s been absolutely fantastic. He has yet to commit a turnover in conference play and is shooting better than 50% from 3. All while also playing actual perimeter defense.
Joe Wieskamp has been on a tear lately. Being named conference player of the week. He has had the tendency to disappear at times, though. But he’s capable of being one of the best players in the league.
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6pm | BTN
This is the definitely of a get-right game for the badgers—what allowed Illinois to jump out to such a big lead on the ‘Cats was Northwestern’s slow rotations in their 3-2 zone; that’s tailor-made for basically ANY badger, but I’ll bet Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice, to bomb the ‘Cats into oblivion.
On paper, at least, I’d like to see Pete Nance against Micah Potter and/or Tyler Wahl...but I know better.
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Honestly, all today’s Big Ten basketball looks terrible, so just lump it into the “Don’t Watch” category. But there are games this afternoon!
...there aren’t many, now that Sam Houston State-Incarnate Word and Northwestern State-Lamar have been canceled due to the utter incompetence of gun-humping freedults in charge of Texas, but y’know.
Worth noting that last night, for some reason, the Nicholls Colonels played something called “Lincoln (MO)” and won 87-3.
Here’s your guide to this afternoon:
Don’t Watch This
Morehead State Eagles at #2 James Madison Dukes (-41.5, O/U 53.5) [11am]
Mercer Bears at Wofford Terriers (-16, O/U 55) [12pm, ESPN+]
Davidson Wildcats at Elon Phoenix (-19, O/U 52.5) [12:30pm]
Western Carolina Catamounts at Furman Paladins (-23.5, O/U 54.5) [1pm, ESPN+]
Samford Bulldogs at East Tennessee State Buccaneers
12pm | ESPN+ | Samford -6.5 | O/U 57
#24 Southern Illinois Salukis at North Dakota Fighting Hawks
12pm | ESPN+ | SIU -3 | O/U 48
It says something about the Missouri Valley that the Salukis are 24th in the rankings and they have virtually no chance of making the 16-team (reduced from 24) FCS Playoffs.
You might’ve missed a cracker of a #5 South Dakota State Jackrabbits-#3 Northern Iowa Panthers tilt last night, with the Jacks emerging from the UNIDome 24-20 winners. Don’t make that mistake again today.
There’ll be a college basketball schedule up later, maybe. Been a busy weekend and I’m due to go spend my afternoon tumbling down a hill in the name of “recreation” or something.
Thank God there’s a brewery nearby.
MNW: Speaking of, my beer recommendation for the weekend:
Cork Screw IPA, from Urban Harvest Brewing Company in Milwaukee. In town last weekend to sit on babies and watch people get married, we sat behind their plastic sheeting for a couple beers—while the imperial peach wheat was interesting, it’s the classic for me. During secondary fermentation, the brewers add oak spirals soaked in cabernet sauvignon for a fruity undertone that is fantastic.
They also have a very good stout named RADAR de Stout, f I recall, for one of the owners playing football at UW-Stout back in 1982, when Stout hosted UW-Oshkosh in a nationally televised game during an NFL players’ strike:
The game featured the Devil’s Radar Defense, with all defenders on the line in a two-point stance, much like a linebacker, and the Oshkosh offensive line in a two-point also, making it look more like a mass wrestling match prior to each snap.
Cool guys, excellent beer; if you’re ever in Milwaukee, give em a look.
LPW: My wife bought me a growler of bourbon county stout for Valentine’s Day.
Coray Seifert (WHO?!?!?): Been really enjoying Harpoon Rec League.
Stew, noted beer bragger: I’m getting 3 bottles of Toppling Goliath Assassin next weekend.
A lot of good sours out right now, and TG brewed Zeelander for the first time in a while.
Big Grove, Lion Bridge, Clockhouse, and, a little surprisingly, Back Pocket, have all made some very good sours. Big Grove has also made some great IPAs, their Hopocolypse series has been great.
Thump: Bell’s No, Yeah: Just a really nice beer.
I also want to mention that I brewed something that was supposed to be a chocolate stout, but ended up just kind of being a chocolate milkshake type of a beer. Didn’t put much dark grain in it, trying to preserve drinkability for my wife, whose precious Wilbur Chocolate I used making this thing.
Have a batch of New England IPA in secondary fermentation, so I’m gonna have two homebrews on tap when everyone helps me move.
Here’s your thread for the weekend. See you all at Thump’s next weekend.