It’s officially Feast Week in college basketball, where ESPN uses Thanksgiving as an excuse to air a constant parade of college basketball tournaments. As you might expect, the B1G is involved in some of these, and we will bravely try to keep track of where your teams are going and who they are playing.
Wednesday, November 23
Battle 4 Atlantis, Dayton Flyers (3-1) v. Wisconsin Badgers (3-0), 1:30 pm, ESPN
MaximumSam: Wisconsin heads to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis. It doesn’t appear that the Battle 4 Atlantis is connected with Wakanda Forever, which feels like a missed opportunity. Wisconsin could definitely fill as an Martin Freeman in the hoops version of the movie. In any event, a pretty solid field this year, and Wisconsin potentially plays Kansas in the second round.
But first they play Dayton. The Flyers played a lot of freshmen last year, and this year they play a lot of sophomores. They do have some good size in DaRon Holmes and Toumani Camara. Kobe Ellis would be their scoring option in the backcourt, but he’s having a tough time shooting recently. Torvik gives this game to the Flyers, 60-59.
BoilerUp89: Dayton is a pretty solid team and once again one of the favorites in the A10. Anthony Grant is perfectly content to play at the slow Wisconsin pace. Dayton’s tempo is actually slower than Wisconsin’s. But they haven’t been getting high quality shots so far this year despite taking their time. They are launching a lot of threes and not making them. The Flyers defense is definitely ahead of their offense early on in the season.
As far as personnel, DaRon Holmes is a good, reliable post player who matches up just fine with the Badgers. Kobe Ellis is off to a slow start, but shot 36% from three last season. Perhaps most importantly, Malachi Smith - a 40% three point shooter last season - is back for this one after missing Dayton’s first three games including their loss to UNLV. Despite their slow shooting start as a team, Mike Sharavjamts - a freshman wing from Mongolia - is 10 of 21 behind the arc.
Feast Rating: Overcooked turkey smothered in some great gravy. If the base wasn’t dry and mealy, you would really be having a much better time, cause it tastes pretty great.
Hoosier Tip-Off Classic, Little Rock Trojans (2-3) at 11 Indiana Hoosiers (4-0), 5:30 pm, BTN
MaximumSam: Indiana continues on their tour of bottom feeders with Little Rock, 317th on Torvik. They sport some of the worst defensive stats in the land, and Indiana should get some practice shooting open shots.
BoilerUp89: Quite the exempt multiple team event you’ve put together here Hoosiers. Just 7 teams give up offensive rebounds at a higher rate than the Trojans. Like MaximumSam said, this is an opportunity to practice shooting threes and also to try and find who that third scoring option is going to be.
Feast Rating: Just shooting whipped cream in your mouth straight from the can.
Jackson State Tigers (0-3) at Michigan Wolverines (4-1), 7:30 pm, BTN
MaximumSam: Michigan has been having an interesting time with the creampuff part of their schedule. Jackson State ranks 300th on Torvik and this shouldn’t be competitive. But EMU is 279th and we saw how that worked out.
BoilerUp89: Speaking of the Emus, Purdue-Fort Wayne beat up on them pretty good. Northwestern defeated the Mastodons by the transitive property and some math that means Northwestern is a better team than Michigan.
Jackson State will offer us another Michigan comparison point by the end of the week as they are also scheduled to play Indiana on Friday. The Tigers have been a good rebounding team but not good at anything else. That probably won’t translate in a game against Hunter Dickinson since their tallest player is 6’9”, but who knows.
Feast Rating: When you show up eight hours late for Thanksgiving and everyone raves about how good the food was, but the turkey has just been sitting there for all day and eating it is a game of Russian Roulette.
Maui Jim Maui Invitational, Ohio State Buckeyes (4-1) v. 21 Texas Tech Red Raiders (4-1), 1:30 pm
MaximumSam: The Buckeyes are getting their money’s worth in facing good defenses in Maui, between San Diego State and now Texas Tech. Tech comes off of eviscerating Louisville and held them to just 13 points in the first half in route to winning by 32. BTW, by raw stats (no preseason inputs), Torvik ranks Louisville 314th in the land. That’s impressively bad.
Tech also features an old Buckeye nemesis in Kevin Obanor. You may remember him dropping 30 on Ohio State a couple years back when he played for Oral Roberts and they were a 15 seed. I can’t remember what seed OSU was, probably an 8 or 9 or something. He’s leading the Raiders in points this season. Zed Key gets another tough matchup with Daniel Batcho, the 6’11’’ Frenchman previously at Arizona. Torvik pegs this one for Texas Tech, 67-64.
BoilerUp89: The Buckeyes avoided picking up a bad loss in Maui, but still face an uphill battle to get a quality win. Texas Tech plays a smothering defense, creating turnovers and forcing opponents into tough shots. The Red Raiders can be a bit careless with the basketball so the Buckeyes should look to steal a couple of easy buckets off of steals. Tech is also an average (at best) shooting team so if Ohio State can avoid giving them easy looks this can be a game.
Feast Rating: A bowl of mustard greens. Their smoky, there is bacon in there. A little spicy. Good for you even. Absolutely a great thing to eat. But you present them to your kid and she starts bawling because she wants pie.
Cancun Challenge, Northwestern Wildcats (5-0) v. Auburn Tigers (5-0), 7:30 pm
BoilerUp89: Bruce Pearl remains a terrible person. The Tigers have shot poorly from three point range but that hasn’t mattered as they’ve yet to be tested this season. Games against Winthrop, Bradley, Texas Southern, South Florida, and George Mason don’t tell us a lot about what Auburn is capable of.
Somehow - and I really don’t understand this at all - the Tigers have been an elite offensive rebounding team and a bottom 60 defensive rebounding team. 5’11” Wendell Green is the playmaker of their offense.
MaximumSam: Auburn ain’t played nobody. That all changes when they play the fearsome fivesome from Northwestern. Fairly typical Auburn team with a lot of long athletes that make running your offense a pain, plus a little guard who can fill it up in Wendell Green. He’s leading the team in points on 50/38/80 shooting. Torvik says Auburn wins, 68-62.
Feast Rating: That perfect apple crumb top pie that was made by your aunt who everyone hates because she is so judgy about everyone. But man can she make a pie.
SoCal Challenge, Minnesota Gophers (4-1) v. UNLV Rebels (5-0), 9:30 pm
BoilerUp89: Minnesota goes by for a trophy in the final of the SoCal challenge, but frankly UNLV is a better team. The Running Rebels have wins against Dayton and Southern Illinois which are both stiffer tests than the Gophers this season.
The Rebels create turnovers at the 2nd highest clip of any team in college basketball this season. But this does generate a decent amount of looks at the three point line (over half of their opponents field goal attempts are threes). Offensively the Rebels are still a work in progress although Keshon Gilbert is shooting 10 of 15 from behind the arc. The key for the Gophers in this one is to avoid turning the ball over. The Rebels generate way too many points off of turnovers. Force them into a half court game and Minnesota can pull the upset.
Feast Rating: That leftover plate from yesterday you heat up in the microwave. Everything still kind of tastes good, but the mashed potatoes are still cold, the macaroni is too hot, and the gravy has a weird consistency. But whatever you’re still crushing it.
Rutgers 76, Rider 46
BoilerUp89: Omoruyi logged a 20 point, 12 rebound night for his third double-double in a row, but wasn’t super efficient from the field going 8 of 16 on his shot attempts. Cam Spencer also had 19 points for the Scarlet Knights. Rutger’s three point shooting returned to a respectable value in this one as they went 5 of 15.
The defense of Rutgers forced Rider into a low shooting percentage game (25%/10.5%) which is how they won by 30. There were however a couple of areas of concern for the Scarlet Knights: 1) they gave up 18 offensive rebounds to Rider, 2) they shot below 60% from the free throw line.
Ohio State 81, Cincinnati 53
MaximumSam: This game was even for a while, then OSU went on a run late in the first half and never looked back. Zed Key continues to have a great season - he dropped 19 and 8. Freshmen Bruce Thornton and Brice Sensabaugh both put in 17. But really, the name of this game was defense - they held Landers Nolley to just 2 points, and Cincinnati never looked comfortable getting into their offense. A much improved effort from Monday.
Northwestern 66, Liberty 52
BoilerUp89: Northwestern got off to a slow start and trailed by as many as 12 in the first half before making it a 1 point game at the break. Chris Collins then reminded his team they were playing a diploma mill, fraudulent university and Northwestern won the second half by 15 points.
Boo Buie had an off game (1 of 8 shooting) but was picked up by Chase Audige’s 20 points and Ty Berry’s 19. The Wildcats had better field goal shooting, 3 point shooting, steals, blocks, and rebounds while having less turnovers. A solid win. The Wildcats move onto the final against Bruce Pearl and Auburn. Man, this tournament just has a bunch of awful teams. Too bad Bradley didn’t advance.
MNW: It’s a chucker’s world in Evanston. Last it was Audige. Hopefully tonight it’s Buie.
I was talking with some NU fans elsewhere about this and I think I’m finally starting to evolve in my perspective on this club—they are offensively offensive and will remain that way. It sucks and it annoys the hell out of me that supposed offensive genius Chris Collins will never develop a smoother motion offense, but that’s what it is. Whatever.
Instead, this Northwestern team at least appears like it’s going to be hard-nosed on defense. 12 steals and 52 points allowed against Sportswashing U, which had been, going into the game, 64th in Kenpom’s offense ratings. I’ll take that, I’ll take Robbie Beran to be the new Sanjay Lumpkin, I’ll take Matt Nicholson being a large human being in the paint.
‘Cats +7 against #13 Auburn tonight. I’m not stupid enough to take that line, but I’m encouraged enough to enjoy it.