While everyone is basking in the glow of Rivalry week, we have had an eventful basketball season, too. Here’s what happened this weekend.
Gavitt Games Concluded - Big Ten wins 6-2
The Big Ten took home victories in the final two games of the Gavitt Games to end the series with a victory. I’ve enjoyed the Gavitt Games much more than the ACC challenge the past few years, but it would seem that this is the end.
#12 Indiana 81, Xavier 79
BoilerUp89: Xavier had nobody who could match up with Trayce Jackson-Davis which came as no surprise to me. When Jack Nunge transferred to Xavier from Iowa, I had informed the Xavier fans I know that he was terrible because he couldn’t guard any post players in the B1G. Turns out the Big East doesn’t have a ton of dominant post players and he’s done pretty well at Xavier, but when faced with a post dominant offense Nunge and Zach Freemantle couldn’t do anything. TJD had 30 points on 13 of 16 shooting. He did not attempt a single shot outside of 4 feet.
This game was decided in the first 4 minutes of the 2nd half. Although the game had been fairly even up until that point, Souley Boum picked up his 3rd foul with 19:37 to play and continued to guard Xavier Johnson. This led to his 4th foul with 17:18 to play. He should have been guarding Kopp at that time since Kopp pretty much just stands in the corner and isn’t taking anybody off the dribble. Xavier needed Boum’s offense in this one, and foul trouble put him on the bench for long stretches of the 2nd half allowing Indiana to pull away.
Couple of other thoughts since I was at this one in person. Xavier Johnson played really well: 23 points on 7/8 shooting including 2/2 from three. Indiana needs either a third scorer to emerge or improved three point shooting if they want to make a serious run at a Big Ten title or a deep NCAA tournament run. Reneau played okay - but most of his positive plays seemed to come when he was facing off against Xavier’s backup post players. With 2:20 to play Indiana had an 8 point lead. They proceeded to take the air out of the ball instead of continuing to run their offense. This led to Xavier having the ball with a chance to take the lead as time was winding down. Fortunately for IU fans, Kunkel missed the layup, Indiana secured the rebound and made a free throw after the foul with 2 seconds to go.
Michigan State 73, Villanova 71
BoilerUp89: Michigan State led by as many as 16 (with 8 minutes to play), but some sloppy play and poor shot selection led to Villanova clawing back into the game late. Eric Dixon’s three point attempt at the buzzer followed 10 seconds of dribbling around and not running any play to try and get separation from the defender. Not sure what they were thinking with that play - guess they hadn’t practiced end of game situations yet.
Michigan State shot much better than Villanova (51.9% from the field and 52% from behind the arc to 45.3% and 27.6%), but only came away with a two point victory. On the one hand, it’s a victory against a solid Villanova team and Sparty looked in control of this one for the first 32 minutes. On the other hand, it was just a two point victory and had Villanova ran a play at the end it could have been a loss despite a poor shooting night from Villanova and a great shooting night for Michigan State.
Tyson Walker had 22 points and five rebounds. AJ Hoggard was two rebounds away from a triple-double as he had 22 points/10 assists/8 rebounds. The return of Marquette Joey Hauser continued with a 13 point/5 rebound performance from him. For Villanova, Eric Dixon had 24 points, and 9 rebounds. Their bench production was non-existent though and had just 7 points. Depth is a major issue for Villanova this season.
Charleston Classic - Penn State brings home 3rd place
Virginia Tech 61, Penn State 59
Penn State 68, Colorado State 56
BoilerUp89: This was a nice tournament for Penn State. Although devoid of many big name power conference programs (South Carolina and Virginia Tech were the only other P6 teams), but a bunch of solid NCAA tournament quality teams made up the field. Hometown College of Charleston took home the trophy after defeating Davidson/Colorado State/Virginia Tech.
Against Virginia Tech, Penn State played a lot of small ball. Caleb Dorsey and Kebba Njie combined for just 12 minutes and only 2 points. Opposing forwards Grant Basile and Justyn Mutts scored 17 and 10 points respectively while Mutts also had 12 rebounds. Virginia Tech led from start to finish but the Nittany Lions had the ball and a chance to win with 10 seconds to go before turning the ball over as time was running out. Andrew Funk led the Nittany Lions with 21 points. Myles Dread contributed 15 points - all from behind the three point line.
Against the Rams of Colorado State, Njie moved into the starting lineup and played 17 minutes - going for 8 points/3 rebounds. Although Penn State was outrebounded by 12, they (or the third game in 4 days) limited Rams three point shooting to just 20% on 30 attempts. Seth Lundy led all scorers with 17 points. Jalen Pickett had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
misdreavus79: Penn State and the Charleston Classic: The last time the Nittany Lions played in this event, they also went 2-1, but they did so from the loser’s bracket. This season, they survived a pretty good Furman, barely lost to Virginia Tech after their own furious comeback, then put away another good Colorado State team in the first seven minutes of the game. Penn State has only played six games, so I won’t be making sweeping conclusions just yet, but so far, they look pretty good. Kebba Njie is starting to get comfortable in the post, Evan Mahaffey’s lightbulb might have turned on during the event, and, the surprise of all surprises, Caleb Dorsey is playing pretty well for a guy no one expected to play much this season. There’s one more gimmie left to play in Lafayette before we really find out where Penn State will stand in the Big Ten standings, as they play arguably two of the three best teams in the conference right off the bat.
Main Event - Illini show they are great, but fall short in final
Illinois 79, UCLA 70
Thumpasaurus: After seeing Illinois start 3-0 largely on the strength of having blue chip athletes and playing teams that didn’t, I was fully prepared to fly out to Las Vegas to watch the Illini go 0-2 and possibly get totally run out of the building. The Illini had shown a propensity for lapses in focus, turnovers and cold shooting spells.
All of those things happened in the first half against a Final Four team returning most of its production except perhaps the cold shooting. The ballhandling was extremely sloppy and the Illini were turning the ball over at a furious enough pace to cancel out the fairly stifling defense they were playing. Despite some flashes, Illinois trailed by ten at the half.
With about 10 minutes to go, Illinois started to press. While it may have seemed like an extreme response to start the press this early, Illinois has a deep enough bench of athletes that this was a viable strategy. Terrence Shannon couldn’t miss from outside, Dain Dainja literally didn’t miss from anywhere and Sencire Harris came off the bench to provide a massive spark. The Illini press sparked the comeback with furious intensity, and all 73 or so UCLA fans in attendance were absolutely beside themselves. Illinois made the same number of buckets as UCLA...on 21 fewer shots.
This team has the athleticism to run the pressure defense Underwood was trying in the pre-Kofi days with little success. The biggest boi on the team (Dainja) is so much faster in transition than I expected. This is going to be a lot of fun.
Virginia 70, Illinois 61
BoilerUp89: At the Main Event in Vegas, the Illini coming out party occurred. Despite facing some really good competition that has a lot more experience than the young Illini, Illinois held their own and split their two games. Terrence Shannon Jr. destroyed the nets in the opener against UCLA (8 of 9 from three point range). Despite the 21 turnovers by the Illini, they were able to limit open looks for the Bruins. While Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell got their points (20 and 22), they both needed over 20 shots to get there.
Against the Cavaliers, the Illini offense was more limited - their pack line defense remains very good. The difference in this one was that Virginia got to the free throw line again and again while the Illini did not. Once at the line, Virginia converted 25 of their 32 attempts. Shannon’s shooting returned to earth as he had just 9 points. Our old friend Armaan Franklin had 9 points for the Cavaliers.
Dain Dainja continued to show flashes of brilliance in both games.
thumpasaurus: Some tunnel vision by the illini kinda doomed them, Lotta guys looking to score early instead of pass. That’s fixable. This team might not yet be great, but their ceiling is in the ionosphere
He was a high school QB: Illinois’ pressure D wore down a thin UCLA squad. Their four primary ball handlers all played 33-39 minutes. UVA went 9 deep just like Illinois and the team with a lot more experience and continuity came through in the end. Virginia made 25 free throws and Illinois went 4/9 so that wasn’t great either, but the turnovers and defensive rebounding that were problematic against UCLA were much better against the Cavs. Every Underwood team (incl OSU and SFA) has gotten better in the second half of the season and we’re already pretty good so I’m hopeful.
Basketball Hall of Fame Showcase - Rutgers stumbles
Temple 72, Rutgers 66
BoilerUp89: Temple isn’t bad (they beat Villanova), but they aren’t great either (losses to Wagner and Vanderbilt) and this wasn’t a loss Rutgers wanted to have on their resume. However, when you get outrebounded and shoot 6.3% from three you are probably going to lose games to decent teams.
Cliff Omoruyi had another double-double (21 points and 11 rebounds). Cam Spencer added 17 points but went 0 of 5 from deep. For the Owls, Khalif Battle had 24 points off the bench to lead all scorers. Rutgers bench depth continues to be an issue. The four starters that didn’t foul out all played at least 33 minutes. Mawot Mag was limited to 29 minutes as he fouled out. The four bench contributors had just 2 points in a combined 24 minutes of play. Hopefully that improves once they get some guys back from injury.
RU in VA: Rutgers 2022/23 campaign of misery:1-16 from the three point line spells death. Yes, Temple did beat Villanova, and yes, Villanova came extremely close to besting MSU. But like my first day in Algebra 1 - this transitive property sucks. Rutgers played without Mulcahy or Mcconnell - but still should have had more than enough juice to take over Temple. Apparently getting outscored 38-23 in the first half doesn’t work out well.In true Pike fashion, this team drops a winnable non-con game early in the season. Bright side is that this Temple team should end up being a Quad 2 loss - and it’s not Depaul, Lafayette, or Umass, like last year (yet).
Cancun Challenge Campus Game - Northwestern auto advances
Northwestern 60, Purdue Fort Wayne 52
BoilerUp89: I’m starting to think a bunch of B1G schools scheduled Fort Wayne so they could say they beat Purdue this season. If that’s the case, I’m left wondering why? Purdue is good but beatable this year.
A 1 point game with 2 minutes to go, Purdue Fort Wayne was held scoreless over that last stretch to secure the victory for the Wildcats. Northwestern went even in the rebounding battle, had 17 turnovers, and relied way too heavily on one player to get all of their points. Boo Buie had 28 points on 18 shots (7 made threes) while no other Wildcat finished with more than 7 points. Ra Kpedi had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Mastodons.
MNW: Did I give my thoughts on NU-PFW? Boo Buie did the chucker’s work on a night where Robbie Beran never quite got going and Chase Audige was offensive at all things offensive. This was a one-point game late, which is not where you want to be against the Mastodons. Credit to PFW, they pressed well and harassed the Northwestern backcourt into 17 turnovers. That’s a blueprint for the Big Ten schedule: harass Northwestern on the perimeter, get them out of their rhythm, because you know that they will naturally self-limit their paint touches. It is baffling how easy it is to get this program off-schedule in Year 52 of the Chris Collins era. But they are 4-0; I should not complain. On to Sportswashing U in Cancun, where the ‘Cats will need to muster every ounce of their offensive efficiency to keep the Fuckin’ Falwells at bay and set up a battle with Auburn. Onward.
Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off - Maryland brings home the trophy
Maryland 95, St. Louis 67
Maryland 88, Miami (Florida) 70
MaximumSam: The big surprise of the weekend is that Maryland is apparently great. After playing three bottom feeders, Maryland faced two top 50 type teams in Saint Louis and Miami, and they whipped them both. Donta Scott and Hakim Hart look like matchup nightmares, suddenly, and Maryland looking like a top line Big Ten team.
BoilerUp89: Honestly haven’t had an opportunity to watch Maryland yet this season, but these are two very nice wins. Maryland shot well from three in both of these games, but would have won even with more pedestrian shooting numbers. Against St. Louis, Donta Scott had 25 points and four other players were in double-digits. All five starters were in double figures against the Hurricanes, with Scott once again leading the way with 24.
I’m not ready to say Maryland will be a contender in the B1G (for one thing their tallest contributor is 6’9” and their 61% shooting on 2 pointers isn’t likely to continue once they are facing the trees of B1G play) but they definitely look like they should return to the NCAA tournament right now.
Hoosier Tip-Off Classic - Indiana begins their “tournament”
Indiana 86, Miami (OH) 56
BoilerUp89: Trayce Jackson-Davis continued to lead the Hoosiers with 17 points, 16 rebounds. Miami (OH) doesn’t have a competent head coach AND was physically overmatched in this one. Xavier Johnson took a back seat in this one, only attempting five shots. I’m assuming he is trying to help the younger guys develop so he doesn’t have to be the only guy other than TJD scoring in conference play.
Cupcake season continues - Michigan almost gets indigestion
Michigan 70, Ohio 66 (OT)
MaximumSam: Michigan games are starting to follow a pretty familiar pattern. Hunter Dickinson has a great game, Jett Howard throws in a few good shots, and...not much else. The backcourt is really struggling on both sides of the ball, which is no way to get through life or the Big Ten schedule. At least we did get the sequence at the end of regulation where Ohio inexplicably fouled with seconds left in a tie game, then threw this even more inexplicable inbound pass to tie it up.
Nebraska 82, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 58
BoilerUp89: APB has already played 7 games. They are 1-6. Their only win is their only home game, and is against something called Champion Christian. Credit where credit is due, this was the third biggest margin of defeat for APB, behind Mississippi State and Kent State but ahead of Cleveland State, TCU, and Oklahoma.
While Nebraska was losing 47-46 with 15 minutes to play, they held the Golden Lions to just 11 points the rest of the way. Blaise Keita had a double-double (14 pts/10 rebs) while Juwan Gary led the Cornhuskers in scoring with 17.
Jesse: Nebraska won! Nothing is guaranteed and a horrific end to the first half and shaky early second half had me questioning if this would be the nail in Hoiberg’s coffin, but then they realized they could muscle out APB. All in all a win is a win.
Other thoughts from our writers:
Stew: Iowa got off to a bit of a rough start through about the first two a timeouts against Seton Hall, but managed to stay in the game with some, hmmm, I believe it’s called “defense”? Is that right? Sounds wrong. Anyway, after that Iowa opened up about a ten point lead and managed to keep it at that throughout the rest of the game, cruising to a comfortable 17 point road win at a power conference school. Pretty great. Kris Murray was smooth and effortlessly put in 29 points while Tony Perkins provided some actual perimeter defense and some incredible toughness. Fillip Rebraca has his best game as a Hawkeye. Another pretty damn fun Iowa team.
BuffKomodo: Thoughts on IU: Well this was a pleasant weekend. Starting off with a win in our first true non-con road game since 2013 I believe was nice. Xavier is a good team, but Indiana did look like the number 12 team in the nation at times. Despite poor play from freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino and a rather pedestrian shooting performance and attempting to give the game away in the clutch, the Hoosiers survived. TJD had a 30 point game where he shot a ridiculous 13-16 from the field. Indiana followed that up with a rout of Miami Hydroxide at a neutral court in Indianapolis despite…you guessed it…a pedestrian shooting performance to start. The Indiana season ceiling will definitely be decided with Indiana’s ability to shoot the ball. Despite giving up 79 points to Xavier, the Indiana defense can be very good and has been for the most part. It’s just how well can the Hoosiers score? JHS was 1-9 against Xavier while Kopp was 2-8 and Race Thompson was 2-7. Recently, Indiana hasn’t been able to win those games. Now, they have two solid threats in TJD and Xavier Johnson, Xavier having a 7-8 23 point effort Friday on the road when it mattered. And don’t TJDv2.0, aka Malik Reneau who played well in both games this weekend. Indiana does appear to be as advertised and if they can shoot the ball more consistently, can certainly be a top 10 team at various points this season. It looks like we are on a collision course for No. 1 UNC and a top 10 IU in the ACC/B1G challenge. Buckle up folks, it’s going to be fun in Bloomington.
BoilerUp89: B1G basketball tier list (tiers in my order - but not a lot of separation within tiers yet)
Contenders: Illinois, Michigan State, Iowa, Indiana
Tourney Teams: Maryland, Purdue, Ohio State
Bubble Candidates: Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Rutgers
Playing Basketball: Northwestern, Nebraska, Minnesota