Another weekend down, as the clock turns from January right into Franuary and the chaff of the Big Ten begin drifting, drifting, drifting.
The less said about this one, the better. Both sides had an eFG under 40%, with the Lions managing just .83 points per possession, compared to the Terps’ .75.
Credit to Penn State scrapping, particularly inside—John Harrar continues to defy the expectation I have of “He isn’t a basketball player, no way” and pull down double-digit rebounds in big spots. But Maryland...man, you gotta take advantage when John freaking Harrar is the only big on the court and that when he’s off, the Lions offer no one remotely close to a center.
But that’s also Maryland this year—Eric Ayala can’t do it all himself, and the Terps have no one big coming to the rescue; gods bless Donta Scott, but he’s a wing asked to play big man.
That culminates in a school with supposed basketball prowess playing ugly grapple ball. B1G as hell, Turge.
#12 Illinois Fighting Illini 75, #19 Wisconsin Badgers 60
Thumpasaurus: It’s always good to see a team like Illinois be able to get up for even the most lowly of opponents and maintain focus over the course of the game. Taking out the trash is a chore that must be done without drama every time and that’s exactly what happened here. The only drama involved three questions:
- will Wisconsin ever hit a three?
- will Brad Davison score?
- will Ayo Dosunmu get a triple double?
They finally hit their 10th attempt, Davison didn’t score, and Ayo had 19/12/12. The first half might have been about as dialed-in as Ayo and Kofi have looked, although once again you have to account for the level of competition here.
As impressive as Ayo looked on some of his drives to the hoop where they knew he was going to drive and couldn’t stop him, and as impressive as it was to see Kofi Cockburn hit a double double before half, this was against a Wisconsin team Illinois outrebounded 46-19. Still, it’s a pretty encouraging warm-up and a lot of the things they did well should translate to high level opponents. Unfortunately, we won’t get to see that borne into reality in Ann Arbor, as Michigan is still under lockdown.
I guess it’s football season again, as the highest-ranked Big Ten team is ducking Illinois fresh off beating the brakes off of a hopelessly overmatched red and white opponent.
#24 Purdue Boilermakers 75, Northwestern Wildcats 70
MNW: Was happy to see Collins made a few needed changes—chief among them allowing Robbie Beran to come off the bench and giving Ryan Young the minutes he deserves at center. Pete Nance shot the ball well and Chase Audige remains a gunner, but there’s just not any offense at the second guard or second forward spot—Boo Buie is a shell of himself, and Miller Kopp is struggling, so that meant...18 minutes of Anthony Gaines not attempting a shot.
Look, Collins has now missed on two straight recruiting classes. And I don’t know when or how promising “No no, this four-star recruit will lead us back to the Promised Land!” is anything to be hopeful for. Northwestern teams used to be much greater than the sum of their parts. These teams are less, and worse yet, their sum to begin with isn’t that great.
We saw from Purdue what getting actually game-changing freshmen can do for a program. Northwestern’s light years from that.
BoilerBettor: And how about those game-changing freshmen? 53 of Purdue’s 75 points were scored by them. Ranking 2nd in program history to...the Baby Boilers of 2007. If that doesn’t make opponents fear the future of this program, I don’t know what will.
Yeah yeah yeah, they still played like freshmen at times—don’t get me started on the end of the game (CALL A FUCKING TIMEOUT)—but damn if I’m not giddy at what this team could be.
Jesse: Did you know that 13/15 Nebraska Cornhusker players got COVID? Did you also know that meant that this team did not play live, competitive basketball for 29 days? Oh, you didn’t because Nebraska missing from basketball for 29 days was a meaningless thing? Neat!
So here’s the thing... Nebraska shot terribly, turned the ball over a BUNCH, and still only lost by 10 on the road behind a decent defensive performance and lolol Michigan state ‘offense’. If you watched this entire game - I uh, did not - kudos to you and also, do you need help? This was not even like, a great defensive effort on each team. There were plenty of open shots that just didn’t fall. Nebraska continues to be the only team without a Big Ten win, so that’s also a fun thing. We shouldn’t be playing, but alas, C.R.E.A.M.
Indiana Hoosiers 67, #8 Iowa Hawkeyes 65
Thump: Hey if Luka Garza is truly great enough that he warrants a mention on games that don’t even involve the Big Ten and is obviously this generation’s George Mikan...
...does that mean Fran is a fucking terrible coach?
Fran McCaffery calls @MarkEmmert question asking why he left Garza out for 12:30 in the first half "a ridiculous question."— Scott Dochterman (@ScottDochterman) February 7, 2021
Adds "you guys are unbelievable" because of questions related to not playing the starters late in the first half when Indiana put together a 9-0 run.
Candystripes: lol we went 2-0 against Iowa and might not even make the NCAA Tournament, what is this team?
Big Ten Tournament Projections
Worth noting that, as our friends at Hammer and Rails have pointed out, the Big Ten Tournament has moved from Chicago to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, where it’ll be practice for the NCAA Tournament.
Here’s what, if the season ended today, those BTT brackets would look like:
Worth noting that, as Team Rankings projects, Illinois, rather than Michigan, is playing at a pace to get the #1 seed in the BTT.
Time will tell.
Let us know your thoughts on the weekend’s basketball in the comments below! Hopefully we’ve got some bracketology and maybe previews for tonight coming down the pike later today. We’ll see...