It’s the last day of the last B1G/ACC Challenge. The Big Ten has some work to do, currently down 3-5 with a bunch of tough games tonight. But they also have the chance to beat Duke and North Carolina, which is always a pleasure.
Wednesday, November 30th
#30 Ohio State Buckeyes (5-1) at #15 Duke Blue Devils (6-2), 6:15, ESPN
MaximumSam: Duke is back home and will try to get out of the trash can Purdue dumped them in. The Dukies have a lot of size and have three guys they can trot out who are 6’10’’ or above in Five Star Freshmen Derek Lively and Kyle Filipowski, as well as Old Friend Ryan Young. That will be in sharp contrast to the Buckeyes, who do finally have someone over 6’8’’ on the roster, but only the one. Duke hasn’t shot straight this season, just 29% from deep. To make up for that, they are relentless on the offensive glass (1st in the country) and they play very good defense. Going to be a tough battle for the Buckeyes on the road, and Torvik has Duke 70-64.
BoilerUp89: This is a game that will show us how much Zed Key has truly improved from last year and probably gives us a great idea how the Buckeyes will do in conference play (since Michigan, Indiana, Purdue, Rutgers, and Illinois all have really good post players). Duke is huge. The Blue Devils aren’t a great shooting team and are going to try to force the ball inside and crash the glass when their shots aren’t falling. Ohio State doesn’t have a Zach Edey to discourage them and force them to settle for midrange jumpers, but when Duke takes those jumpers the team rebounding effort needs to be on point for the Buckeyes.
#7 Purdue Boilermakers (6-0) at #192 Florida State Seminoles (1-7), 6:15, ESPN2
MaximumSam: Welp. Florida State just got humiliated by Nebraska on Sunday, if that tells you anything about how their season is going. At this point they are just happy Louisville is also in the conference. They’ve been bad on both sides of the ball but especially bad rebounding. Offensive rebounding was their calling card when they’ve been good, but that’s gone this year. That’s a rough combo facing Purdue, who has been the best team in the conference this young season. Torvik says Purdue rolls, 76-63.
BoilerUp89: I wasn’t happy to see this one on the schedule - but that’s only because Purdue has faced Florida State a bunch in the ACC challenge the past few years. Now though it’s a potential trap game as a young Boilers team is riding high and coming off just a tremendous weekend of hoops. Florida State will surely get up to play a team ranked in the top 5 of the AP poll.
If the Boilers stay focused though, there isn’t a lot that scares me about the current iteration of the Seminoles. Matthew Cleveland is still a good player, but probably not capable of carrying a team on his own since he isn’t a perimeter shooter. I guess Darin Green or Cam’Ron Fletcher could get hot from outside?
Florida State has been uncharacteristically poor at rebounding - giving up a lot of offensive rebounds to opponents. Just one opponent (Siena) has less than 10 offensive boards against the Seminoles and they didn’t really need them as they shot 52% from the field and got to the free throw line 20 times.
#40 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (5-1) at #49 Miami (Florida) Hurricanes (6-1), 6:15
MaximumSam: When we last saw Miami (Florida), they were getting pounded by Maryland. They are a smallish, pesky team that will force turnovers and generate good looks, but they struggle getting to the line. They are led by Norchad Omier, who is averaging a double double. Get to a triple double and he can change his name to Megachad. Torvik tips this one to Rutgers, 68-65.
BoilerUp89: Rutgers has looked really good against bad competition this year, but struggled against average teams. Miami is probably better than average so I’m concerned for the Knights here. The Hurricanes defensive game plan is to generate turnovers and they will take some risks defensively that result in their opponents getting good shots.
Nijel Pack got paid this offseason and is a key contributor alongside Norchad Omier and Isaiah Wong. I’m not sure who guards Cliff Omoruyi on their roster though. The Hurricanes have two rotation guys over 6’7”, but both are just 6’9” and neither starts.
#22 North Carolina Tar Heels (5-2) at #10 Indiana Hoosiers (6-0), 8:15, ESPN
MaximumSam: The Main Event of the night features last year’s runner up in North Carolina. While they started the year ranked #1 by the AP, they have not been dominant, with close wins over Gardner Webb and Portland coupled with losses to Iowa State and Alabama in quadruple overtime on Sunday. That’s something worth noting, because the Tar Heels aren’t super deep and their starters play a lot of minutes. They do have size, with Armando Bacot underneath the basket and Old Friend Pete Nance giving them some stretch at the four. Nance has actually been their best three point shooter this season, something most of the team has struggled with. Torvik gives this one to the Hoosiers, 74-69.
BoilerUp89: This is my opportunity to criticize the Hoosier’s non-conference schedule and I’m going to take it. Yes, games against Xavier, UNC, Arizona, and Kansas are good and I applaud the Hoosiers choices for headline games. But after them, it’s sub 200 teams (and mostly sub 300 teams) as far as the eye can see. Indiana basically said that they weren’t going to risk a bad loss at all. They went out of their way to host their own MTE against the dregs of college basketball instead of heading somewhere warm over Thanksgiving break and playing a team that might give them a challenge. Okay, on to North Carolina.
Carolina has looked like a team that read their press clippings over the summer instead of working hard in the gym. They are still a talented bunch, but they haven’t really resolved any of the issues that made them a 8 seed last year. The lack of depth is a major issue and Carolina is coming off a 4-overtime game against Alabama in which three players logged over 50 minutes. Look for Indiana to pound the ball inside as they will have an advantage there. On the other hand, UNC has been tested this season in more than just 1 game.
#31 Michigan State Spartans (5-2) at #80 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-1), 8:15, ESPN2
MaximumSam: The Irish are 6-1 but they’ve been dropping like a rock since the season started. The best team they’ve played is St. Bonaventure, and they lost that one by 12, and have very tight wins over Radford and Lipscomb. While they have some good players, including Nate Laszewski and Trey Wirtz, they are even thinner than the Spartans. They’ve only gone six deep this season, despite playing a bunch of nobodies. As such, they play a very slow tempo, don’t force turnovers, and don’t hit the offensive glass. Torvik still gives them this game at home, 68-67.
BoilerUp89: Both teams are hobbled by injuries at the moment. The Irish are missing Niagara transfer Marcus Hammond who was expected to lead the team in scoring before suffering a MCL sprain just before the beginning of the season. And as Spartan fans already know, Akins and Hall are missing for Michigan State. Due to their depth issues, the Irish don’t try to create turnovers and avoid sending teams to the free throw line (they can’t avoid to foul out). Their defensive identity is one of avoiding fouls rather than forcing opponents into tough shots. Due to their short bench, Sparty should keep attacking the rim and not settle for jumpers.
On offense, Notre Dame shares the ball well with all 6 of their rotation guys taking roughly the same number of shots. Laszewski and Goodwin are shooting very well from the perimeter, but everyone has been getting good looks in the paint.
#123 Boston College Eagles (5-2) at #106 Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-3), 8:15, ESPNU
MaximumSam: The nightcap features, well, it features some bad teams. We all know the follies of Nebrasketball. BC has been pretty lackluster, too, and they already sport losses to Maine and Tarleton State. The Eagles have been pretty strong defensively, but they don’t shoot straight and don’t pass much, which is typically a bad combination for offensive basketball. Their leading scorer, Makai Ashton-Langford, is shooting 10 percent from three. That’s not great! And he’s shot the second most threes on their team! Torvik goes with Nebraska here, 66-61.
BoilerUp89: As a reminder to our readers, Nebrasketball beat Maine by 13. BC lost to Maine by 5. BC is a really poor shooting team (47.2% from 2, 28.4% from 3, 66.9% from FT). They have been wise enough to not attempt many threes so they are at least aware of what is and isn’t a good shot. Prince Aligbe (a freshman from Minneapolis) scored 16 points in the opener before getting injured early in their second game against Detroit Mercy. Fellow freshman Donald Hand was also injured in game 2 after playing 14 minutes in the opener. Oh and transfer Quinten Post hasn’t played all season yet. I’m not expecting any of these three back for tonight’s game so Nebraska is catching a little bit of a break on when they are playing BC.
How we finishing?
This poll is closed
8-6 (tell us who is your 6 in the comments)
3-11 what the heck?
Monday, November 28th (0-2)
Virginia Tech 67, Minnesota 57
MaximumSam: One of those blah games where Tech was the better team, built up a double digit lead by halftime, and carried it through the entire second half. Jamison Battle never got going and the Gophs got clobbered on the boards. At least their freshmen got to play a bit.
BoilerUp89: Minnesota was overmatched in this one - which feels like it is going to be a theme in conference play. Virginia Tech played their game and let the Gophers talent deficit be the difference. Sean Pedulla led all scorers with 17 for the Hokies. Another dismal rebounding performance for the Gophers as they Hokies had 42 to their 27.
Pitt 87, Northwestern 58
MaximumSam: Well, that sucked. The Cats got run out of the gym by the previously inept Panthers, who went 14-22 from deep. Northwestern will probably look rough offensively against a team of fifth graders; this game just showed that if the other team gets hot, they are sunk.
BoilerUp89: Ouch. NU got embarrassed by a bad Pitt team. Pitt shot the ball really well from three - but if they only went 6-22 (27%), they STILL would have beaten the Wildcats by 5. Pitt won the rebounding battle by 11 despite shooting a lot better than Northwestern. Blake Hinson led the Panthers in scoring with 22 points and added 8 rebounds and 5 assists. At least Federiko Federiko played 16 minutes.
Tuesday, November 29th (3-3)
Clemson 101, Penn State 94 (2OT)
MaximumSam: The most fun game of the night featured a spirited effort from both teams. Jalen Pickett, Seth Lundy, and Cam Wynter were outstanding and nearly willed their team to a win. Unfortunately, the supporting cast just couldn’t get it going. Kebba Njie and Myles Dread put up goose eggs, with Dread going 0-6 from deep. They also had no answer for PJ Hall, who dropped 22 points in 25 minutes.
Maryland 79, Louisville 54
MaximumSam: Louisville is bad. Maryland had a double digit lead minutes into the game and that was that. They continue to be an interesting team of versatile scorers and defenders. But they might as well been playing North Maine Tech.
Illinois 73, Syracuse 44
MaximumSam: Well, I was looking forward to Illinois smashing Jim Boeheim, and they did, but this game was completely unwatchable. Syracuse went 15 of 54 from the field, which is unspeakably terrible. But Illinois seemed happy to match them, and missed 28 threes. God bless you if you watched this game from beginning to end. Somehow Coleman Hawkins got a triple double, so that’s cool, even though I could have probably gotten ten rebounds in this game just by standing vaguely near the basket.
Thumpasaurus: Coleman played a lot better than he did in the early games. He was more in control, turned it over less, passed it better. This game is more about how bad Syracuse is. The Illini had a horrific shooting night, bricking three after three after three. Some were open, many weren’t. I think this Illini team is currently overrated and I think they played a pretty bad game...which tells you all you need to know about Syracuse.
How in the hell did the bottom fall out of the ACC like this? Cuse, Louisville and Florida State is one incredible trifecta.
Virginia 70, Michigan 68
MaximumSam: Michigan was in this one the whole way and was up 11 at halftime. Unfortunately, they never seemed able to stop Virginia from getting in the lane, and their lack of point guard options were really pronounced late in the game, when they looked inept. For the umpteenth game, Hunter Dickinson and Jett Howard looked good, but the surrounding cast isn’t doing much.
Iowa 81, Georgia Tech 65
MaximumSam: Kris Murray apparently wanted everyone to know that he isn’t just Kroger brand Keegan. He dropped 31 points on 18 shots and pulled down 20 rebounds. Iowa needed it, too, because Tech stayed within shouting distance until late.
Wake Forest 78, Wisonsin 75
MaximumSam: I said Wisconsin could win this game if they neutralized Tyree Appleby. Readers, they failed in this endeavor. Appleby dropped 32 on 16 shots, to go along with 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Wisconsin still had a chance to win, mostly because Chucky Hepburn showed signs of life and scored 23. Unfortunately, he messed up the end by chucking a long three when he anticipated getting fouled. The foul wasn’t called, and the shot didn’t go, and that was that. Which brings me to:
MaximumSam’s Rant on Basketball: Wake had a three point lead late in the game, which brings up the old debate of whether it is better to foul and let Wiscy shoot two free throws or not foul and let them go for a three. No matter how you feel about it, it’s absolutely boring as hell to watch. Fouling sucks all the life out of the end of fun games. While everyone with a soul agrees with this, no one can agree on how to fix it. But it’s easy to fix! Turn on the World Cup if you want to see. When a foul is committed but calling it would hurt the team that got fouled, they just don’t call it. Wow, that’s simple! American sports are often hurt by the fact that people want officials to be rule worshippers instead of game managers. Let refs have a brain - it would help the game immeasurably.