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Big Ten Basketball: The Weekender

Hey, more random basketball “Events”

Syndication: The Herald-Times
All right buddy, you got this
Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

Thursday, December 8th

Ohio State Buckeyes 67, Rutgers Scarlet Knights 66

Rutgers v Ohio State
Good if it goes! And the refs ignore that he was out of bounds and didn’t reestablish himself inbounds.
Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

MaximumSam: Is it possible to steal a win at home? I dunno, that’s how it felt after a pretty discombobulated effort from everyone outside of Zed Key, who had a dominant first half and finished with 22 and 14. The second half was a real slog, controlled largely by Rutgers behind their own big man, Cliff Omoruyi, who finished with 16 and 8. But end was defined by Rutgers choice to foul up three. It was terrible to watch, and Torvik caluclated the Buckeyes had a 6% chance to win with eight seconds left. But the window was left open when Caleb McConnell missed a free throw, and we were left with this awesome and totally legal finish.

BoilerUp89: So I’m pretty sure the Big Ten issued a statement saying that the refs missing the fact that Holden was out of bounds and didn’t reestablish himself inbounds. I would care a lot more if Rutgers hadn’t had an opportunity to not make that even a concern. Don’t foul with 7 seconds to go. It’s that simple. You have to get the clock down to 3-4 seconds before you foul while up three if you are Rutgers. If you can’t manage that, then make your free throws.

Zed Key and Cliff Omoruyi were a treat to watch in this one.

MaximumSam: Pretty sure the statement came from the Protecting Rutger Fan Feelings Department. The Big Ten has to spend all that money somewhere.

Iowa Hawkeyes 75, Iowa State Cyclones 56

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Iowa
This is Fran with a huge lead against Iowa State. Guy is going to have a stroke if he doesn’t relax
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

MaximumSam: I was watching the Buckeyes when I saw BoilerUp89 comment on the Hawkeyes. I checked the score, and they were up 20 ten minutes into the first half, a margin they carried pretty much until the end. With Kris Murray on the bench with an injury, Filip Rebraca carried them with 22 points, and the team shot 12-23 from three, compared to 3-22 from the Cyclones. That will lead to a blowout.

BoilerUp89: Put your hand up if you thought Iowa would be better without Kris Murray. Okay, now put your hands down you liars. The Hawkeyes came out and blitzed the Cyclones out of the arena starting the game 15-0 and then 20-2. They never looked back and led by as many as 29 before Iowa State made the final score look slightly more respectable. Rebraca’s double-double (11 rebounds to go along with his 22 points) led the way, but the McCaffery brothers also combined to score 27 points and every starter made at least two three-pointers. Perhaps most impressive - Iowa won in blowout fashion despite having 18 turnovers.

Michigan Wolverines 90, Minnesota Golden Gophers 75

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Minnesota
Hunter Dickinson taunts the Gophers
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

MaximumSam: Another laugher, Michigan was also up 20 ten minutes into the game, and was eventually up by 31 in the second half. The most interesting part of the game was seeing how they responded to the loss of Jaelin Llewellyn. For the most part, they rode with freshman Dug McDaniel, who played great and finished with 15 points and 7 assists. For Minnesota’s part, they are really in a tailspin. Being uncompetitive at Purdue is understandable. At home against Michigan is more concerning.

BoilerUp89: Michigan led by as many as 24 before becoming bored with their food. They built their lead with an incredible three point shooting night - making their first 5. The Wolverines didn’t cool down too much as the game went on. They finished 10 of 18 from behind the arc. Dickinson led all scorers with 19.

For Minnesota, well they did outrebound Michigan by 3 including 9 offensive boards although some of that was due to Michigan going deep into their bench. The shooting numbers weren’t awful and Pharrel Payne was a perfect 6 of 6 from the field, but they had 16 turnovers which is a ton especially when you realize that Michigan’s defense doesn’t typically generate all that many turnovers.

Saturday, December 10th

#49 Penn State Nittany Lions (6-3) at #13 Illinois Fighting Illini (7-2), 11 am, BTN

MaximumSam: Hangover potential for the Illini, who are coming off that big overtime victory over Texas. We do get a battle between two of the best guards in the conference, with Jalen Pickett and Terrence Shannon. Outside of them, it will be a struggle for the Nits. Their freshman big man Kebba Njie has combined for 2 points over the past two games, and now he faces Dain Dainja and Coleman Hawkins. Penn State has lived at the three point line, and are 5th in the country at taking them and 23rd at making them. They’ve struggled there in the past two losses, but hard to believe they will win this game without returning to form. Torvik goes Illinois, 76-67.

BoilerUp89: Both teams will look to avoid starting off conference play at 0-2. I’d expect big things and big minutes for Dain Dainja in this one - Penn State doesn’t have anyone who can guard him this season. Despite their interior issues, it’s not an automatic loss for Penn State. Shrewsberry is well aware of his team’s strengths and weaknesses and a talented shooting Nittany Lions squad will continue to bomb away from the perimeter. If they have a good morning/early afternoon, they have a chance. If they repeat their shooting performance against Michigan State, this could get ugly.

#5 Purdue Boilermakers (9-0) at #87 Nebraska Cornhuskers (6-4), 1:15 pm, BTN

MaximumSam: Will Weasel Grisel play? Does Purdue have a chance if he does? Will Derrick Sky Walker stuff Zach Edey in a trash can? I can only assume yes. Torvik picks Purdue, 70-64.

BoilerUp89: All conference road games are difficult. Despite not having a lot of height, Nebraska limited Ryan Kalkbrenner to just 10 points and Trayce Jackson-Davis to just 12. I’d expect them to continue packing the paint on defense for a third straight game and force their opponent’s shooters to make threes. Creighton’s did not while Indiana’s did resulting in Nebraska going 1-1 over their last two games. On the season, Purdue’s outside shooting percentage has fallen right in the middle of Creighton and Indiana.

It will also be interesting to see if Matt Painter is able to draw up offensive plays that get Zach Edey touches despite the inevitable double and triple teams and whether TKR, Furst, or Gillis (if he returns from injury) are able to get easy looks by diving to the basket while the defense is focused elsewhere. Nebraska has also avoided sending teams to the free throw line much this season, while that’s where Purdue has generally made their living.

Griesel was out with an illness, so unless it was something like COVID I would expect him back for this one. On offense, Nebraska has gotten a lot of looks from 2. How they get Zach Edey in space and move him away from the rim protector role he’s grown to love this year will be interesting. None of their three centers are super comfortable shooting threes (Breidenbach is 2 of 11 so he might at least attempt them), so I would expect lots of ball screen action.

#198 Brown Bears (6-4) at #56 Michigan State Spartans (6-4), 3:30 pm, BTN

MaximumSam: I had no idea that Brown is called the Bears but my God what a perfect name.

BoilerUp89: Unlike Eastern Michigan, Brown understands good nicknames. Must be that Ivy League education they are always talking about. Brown is an awful free throw shooting team - 2nd worst in the country, right behind Minnesota. They shoot a lot of threes, but are just average at making them. On defense, their best attribute is that they don’t get up offensive boards to their opponents. Some of that may be their level of competition though - Michigan State will be their first top 100 opponent of the year and despite that Brown already has four losses.

#10 Arizona Wildcats (7-1) v. #12 Indiana Hoosiers (8-1), 6:30 pm, FOX

MaximumSam: I suppose I should be happy we get big games like this. But similar to football, it would be cooler if we got some of them in the actual basketball arenas with the students. Instead, we get this game in Las Vegas, and hey, at least it’s not in a ballroom. Anyway, Arizona looked great in Maui in beating Creighton and whipping San Diego State, but have been shaky since, with a 15 point loss to Utah and a closer than expected win over 0-10 Cal. They have a couple seven footers in Oumar Ballo and Azuolas Tubelis who can both score and attack the boards. TJD will find some tough sledding. Torvik favors Arizona by the tiniest of margins and projects an 81-80 score.

BoilerUp89: Arizona plays fast tempo and attacks the rim. This gets them a lot of easy buckets and free throw opportunities and has turned them into a top 5 offense on the season. While their Maui championship isn’t looking quite as good as it did at the time (thanks mainly to Nebraska taking the bloom off of Creighton’s rose), they looked real impressive to those of us who watched them then instead of working. Although they aren’t known as a three point shooting team, their main core of six players are 51 of 125 on the year (40.5%). It’s their role players and deep bench that bring the team-wide percentages down to 36.5%.

Ballo and Tubelis start together and play alongside each other just under half of the game. I think that makes this a tough matchup for the Trayce Jackson-Davis who has historically had some issues scoring efficiently against bigger defenders. If TJD can’t get either of the Wildcats into foul trouble, he’s going to have to use his newfound distribution skills to get others involved.

Sunday, December 11th

#258 Prairie View A&M Panthers (4-4) at #79 Northwestern Wildcats (6-2), 1 pm, BTN

MaximumSam: Northwestern gets to view the Prairie, who aren’t good but do sport a win over Wazzu. Will Douglas leads the team in points, rebounds, assists, and steals, so the Cats may want to guard him.

#16 Maryland Terrapins (8-1) v. #2 Tennessee Volunteers (8-1), 3:30 pm, FS1

MaximumSam: The last time these teams faced each other, Len Bias was playing. No rest for the Terps, who play their third tough game in ten days. The Vols looked shaky early in the season, but they did put a whoopin’ on Kansas, which is always worth something. They are pretty deep and will play nine guys, though Five Star Freshman Julian Phillips has been their ace, leading them in points and rebounds. The Vols will do not play hero ball, as they lead the country in assist rate, even though they don’t shoot the ball particularly well. They will defend - they are 2nd in defense in the country, 3rd in forcing turnovers, and 1st in defending the three. Maryland better bring their hard hats. Torvik goes Vols 66-62.

#37 Wisconsin Badgers (7-2) at #15 Iowa Hawkeyes (7-2), 5:30 pm, BTN

MaximumSam: It’s unclear if Kris Murray will play in this one, though they certainly didn’t need him in their last game. Wisconsin looks to Wisconsify Iowa, they currently rank 12th in defensive efficiency, but the Hawkeyes rank 4th in offense. Wiscy’s shooting splits are truly interesting; they are 62nd in threes, which is pretty good. But they are 341st in twos - which is very bad! Their free throw shooting is right in the middle, at 149th. Can this team shoot straight or not? Torvik goes with the Hawkeyes, 70-63, though that doesn’t take into account Murray’s health.

#59 Seton Hall Pirates (5-4) at #31 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (6-3), 5:30 pm, FS1

MaximumSam: Rutgers looks to get out of their feelings against Seton Hall. When we last checked in with the Pirates, they were getting whooped by Iowa. Since then, they do have a tight win over Memphis, but also a loss to Siena and big losses to Kansas and Oklahoma. Shaheen Holloway seems to be still searching for his best lineups - they’ve played 10 guys decent minutes. Big man Tyrese Samuel looks to be the best of the bunch so far - he leads the team in points and rebounding. The officiating may be important here - Rutgers wants to bodyslam teams through a table, but Seton Hall shoots a lot of free throws. Torvik goes Rutgers, 66-60.

#35 Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-0) at #191 Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-5), 7:30 pm, BTN

MaximumSam: Well, this is odd. Minny hosts a real live team from a real live conference. The Bulldogs are surprisingly undefeated, and while they haven’t played a murderer’s row, they do have wins over Marquette and Utah. Big man Tolu Smith is averaging a double double, though only shoots 52% from the line. Hack a Tolu? Tee Off on Tolu? The Gophers have just been straight up bad, and lost their last three games by double digits. They do one thing well on offense, which is get to the line. Unfortunately, in what seems like a cruel joke, they are almost dead last in the country in free throw percentage. Torvik goes Bulldogs, 62-55.