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Hoosiers take a step toward a tournament bid, Illini and Sparty stay undefeated in conference play

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Plus: PSU beats Northwestern and sends MNW into meltdown mode.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Men’s Basketball Reactions

Wednesday, January 5

Michigan State Spartans 79, Nebraska Cornhuskers 67

Syndication: Lansing State Journal Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Green Akers: In lieu of broken record commentary about how these turnovers will absolutely cost them games in another intensely competitive Big Ten race, I do think MSU’s depth is worth commenting on.

Off day from Joey Hauser? No worries, Malik Hall picks up the slack. Tyson Walker was invisible against Northwestern on Sunday, going scoreless and fouling out; last night he puts in 10 pts/5 assists with only two turnovers, but his point pal AJ Hoggard was horrendous.

Every year, people assume Izzo will have to narrow his lineup at some point, and...he really doesn’t, and still mostly finds a way to make it work, and it sure looks like they’re going to keep running nine guys double digit minutes.

Now then. Let’s go back a dump truck over Michigan’s tournament hopes.

Penn State Nittany Lions 74, Northwestern Wildcats 70

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

MNW: Northwestern is not good enough to play with its food. It’s not good enough to turn its offense off for 6-8 minutes at a time. It’s not good enough to give up a double-digit rebounding margin to a team that maxes out at 6’9”. It’s not good enough to settle for contested jumpers and decline to run an offense.

All those factors cost Northwestern at home in a loss that will keep them out of the NCAA Tournament.

Boo Buie had a great night until he didn’t—and make no mistake, he was excellent—and Pete Nance disappeared for far too long in the middle of the game, taking it over briefly late but coming up small against John Harrar inside for huge stretches. Penn State brought an athleticism that Northwestern couldn’t contend with, and Seth Lundy and the Nittany Lions made threes when they counted.

I honestly am at a loss for what to do with this Northwestern basketball team. They look like they should be good enough, but they just aren’t.

misdreavus79: I was tasked with writing the recap for this game on “the other side,” and I effectively had to rewrite the whole thing after the game ended. When Northwestern went up 10, and the Wildcats couldn’t miss anything from, well, anywhere, it looked like that was curtains for the Lions. And not to be too hard on the previous coaching staff, but I’m confident that if this were a Chambers-led team, it most likely would have been curtains.

But Penn State found a way, slowly, but surely, making Northwestern actually work for its points while themselves starting to make shots (five of their nine threes came in the second half). With about 11 seconds left in the game, the Nittany Lions would be in the middle of a 20-to-8 run that was the difference maker. Instead of Penn State needing to foul to stay in it, it was Northwestern, and the Lions made it count.

Being 2-2 to start conference play when most people thought they’d win no more than two conference games in total sure feels nice, I’ll say!

Thursday, January 6

Illinois Fighting Illini 76, Maryland Terrapins 64

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Thumpasaurus: I could say the reason things were looking dicey for the Illini in the first half was because Plummer, Frazier and Grandison went 3 for 19, but really, the reason is that Underwood sat Kofi for the last 10 minutes of the first half when he picked up foul #2. Kofi had 23 points and 18 rebounds and had a ridiculous +/- of +29 in a game the Illini won by 12.

Trent Frazier is a real one for hitting the step-back three that covered the -11.5 spread at the end of the game even with a cheap Maryland layup.

Kofi Cockburn looks a lot more quick and athletic than he did last year and his hands seem to have improved somewhat. I imagine that whenever he doesn’t feel like working out or training, he pictures Cam Krutwig. He’s definitely the best I’ve ever seen him. Imagine if we had a point guard.

This team is competing for a league title.

HWAHSQB: Back in November, a coaching change helped Illinois exorcise the HAT demons that had plagued the Lovie era. Last night, maybe the coaching change on the other bench contributed to exorcising the Maryland in Champaign demons.

I also hated Underwood sitting Kofi for the last 10:17 of the first half because I didn’t figure there was any way Kofi could play the whole second half, but he did play until the game was decided. That’s impressive for anyone, but especially a guy that size.

Indiana Hoosiers 67, #13 Ohio State Buckeyes 51

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Buffkomodo: Winning cures a lot. It doesn’t cure that horrendous 3 point shooting, but it does soften the blow. Indiana came in with a chip on their shoulders and used it to beat the Bucks into submission. The game was pretty back and forth until the under 8 timeout and then Indiana really separated.

TJD was a man again. He’s proving he is one of the best big men in the B1G and in the NCAA. XJ actually played a good, quiet, steady game and Rob was pretty good as well. It’s really the guard play I can get behind.
Trey Galloway was back after missing time due to a broken wrist, and he served as the big spark for the Hoosiers. I don’t really remember being too impressed with him, but last night he played his ass off on defense, got some 50/50 balls, and really started a couple runs the Hoosiers really needed. Very impressive return for him.

This win does make the Penn State and Wisconsin losses sting a tad more though. Indiana very easily could be 4-0 in conference play. They aren’t, and in year 1 of Woody .500 in the B1G doesn’t seem so bad. On to Minnesota.

#23 Wisconsin Badgers 87, Iowa Hawkeyes 78

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Wisconsin
Here we see Brad Davison trying to injure an opponent
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Kind of...: Despite the photo above, Iowa was able to leave the Kohl Center with no injuries. This is in large part because, despite the photo above, for most of the night Iowa defenders stayed a healthy distance away from any Badger possessing the ball. Now, this did mean that Wisconsin scored 87 points—all five starters in double figures—and coasted for most of the game. But that’s a small price to pay for the the ability to whinge on twitter and assert the moral high ground.

Patrick McCaffrey is an intriguing player. In a program that cared about developing players and playing defense, he could be a bigger, better Tyler Wahl. Not so much Connor McCaffrey, who offers 80% of Davison’s hateability, but 40% of his productivity. But props to Jordan Bohannon for widening his B1G career made 3s lead with some excellent garbage time play.

Wisconsin moves to 12-2 overall, 3-1 in the B1G.

Poll

Who had the best week?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Penn State
    (18 votes)
  • 27%
    Indiana
    (50 votes)
  • 46%
    wisconsin
    (84 votes)
  • 16%
    Someone else
    (29 votes)
181 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who had the worst week?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Northwestern
    (45 votes)
  • 39%
    Ohio State
    (54 votes)
  • 18%
    Iowa
    (25 votes)
  • 10%
    Someone else
    (14 votes)
138 votes total Vote Now

Women’s Basketball Roundup

Tuesday, January 4

Nebraska Cornhuskers 79, #8 Michigan Wolverines 58

Jesse: Wooo. Nebraska WBB just knocked off #8 Michigan. At least someone is making good on PBA Magic.

BRT: We just need to quit men’s sports and give all the money and resources to the women’s teams.

Wednesday, January 5

#6 Indiana Hoosiers 76, Wisconsin Badgers 53

MNW: This one was all but over by halftime, as the badgers lacked the firepower to keep up with the Hoosiers on a night where Ali Patberg was unconscious from deep (4/5 3pt for 18) and Grace Berger dropped 11 dimes and grabbed 8 boards.

Julie Pospisilova (15 pts) is going to have a night where she gets hot for the badgers and drops someone—but the 8th-ranked Hoosiers were unlikely to be that team.

Thursday, January 6

#10 Maryland Terrapins 106, Penn State Nittany Lions 78

MNW: The Terps led by 25 at halftime and cruised, doing their using freight-train-meets-Prius impression with the bottom tier of the conference.

They nearly matched Penn State’s defensive rebounding total on the offensive glass, shot over 50% from the field and nearly 50% from deep...like, Angel Reese is averaging a double-double and Diamond Miller went for 24 and we’re all just playing for second (except for maybe Indiana who beat the Terps in OT over the weekend).

Minnesota Golden Gophers 62, Rutgers Scarlet Knights 49

MNW: No Lindsay Whalen (emergency appendectomy), no problem—because Rutgers is historically bad on defense. For the seventh time this season, an opponent held the Knights to 50 points or fewer (they’re 1-6 in those contests). Without C. Vivian Stringer this year, Rutgers could be in contention with wisconsin for the conference basement.

Ohio State Buckeyes 90, Illinois Fighting Illini 69

MNW: A 31-point third quarter blew it wide open for Ohio State, who got 32 from Taylor Mikesell.

Northwestern Wildcats 77, #22 Iowa Hawkeyes 69

MNW: Did I do a women’s basketball recap section ENTIRELY for this scoreline?

Despite Player of the Galaxy or whatever Caitlin Clark having another big scoring night for the Hawkeyes—this time courtesy of going 13/13 from the free throw line—Northwestern found a way to win. While the conventional wisdom is that they got F Monika Czinano in foul trouble, and that indeed did help, a look at Clark’s stats (that I posted over at InsideNU) suggests there’s something else at play here.

FOTP oldfatbaldguy did add a caveat to this:

That 24% on 3s in the three games against Northwestern matches her overall percentage for this season. Those aren’t dropping for her like they did last season, apparently. She was 1-for-8 tonight. Warnock was 4-for-6 and all other Hawkeyes were 2-for-20. The whole team is down from 41% last season to 29%. Gabbie Marshall is usually a problem from outside, too, but she was 1-for-5 tonight and that’s who Burton took the ball from on the play of the game.

Clark is a great player, but as you said, Northwestern is an increased degree of difficulty for her.

Let’s see what that does to the scores bracketology:

Weekend Basketball Schedule

Previews coming...tomorrow?

In the meantime, might I recommend the Southland Conference Tip-Off Tournament over on ESPN+? Since five teams from the previously 13-team Southland took off for the WAC and the conference is bargain-basement levels of bad in terms of Kenpom and NET (25 of their 41 non-conference wins were against non-D1 teams), the Southland decided a non-conference tournament featuring the eight conference teams would be good.

They’re in Katy, TX, and they’re fast and dumb basketball so shut up and don’t think about it too hard, OK? Tips off at 11am, so fire up the TV. It’s Friday—you’re not really working, are you?