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Big Ten Basketball: Weekend Recaps

Frantrum Season is in the air

When I left there were two slices of pie! Two! Where’s the pie Margery??

BoilerUp89: Not a great weekend for whomever ends up as a bubble team in the conference.

Saturday, December 10th

Penn State Nittany Lions 74, Illinois Fighting Illini 59

MaximumSam: Well, hello there Nits. Penn State took a flamethrower to the Illini defense, especially in the first half. They constantly isolated Jalen Pickett against whoever was guarding him, and they also found open shooters off of that or in transition, leading to 47 points in the first half. Illinois was better in the second half defensively, but could never find much on offense. Terrence Shannon was a no show, scoring 4 points on 7 shots. You could have watched large portions of this game without realizing he was on the court. Heck of a win for Penn State, who are officially part of the Big Ten scrum.

BoilerUp89: Penn State can shoot it. Illinois appeared to be celebrating their victory over Texas. You can’t take a night (or morning in this case) off in this league unless its against Minnesota at home.

misdreavus79: Andrew Funk had been shooting terribly as of late, but he and Miles Dread combined for 35 points, all from beyond the arc, to make Penn State run away with it on the road. This is the first time Penn State has beaten a ranked team on the road since beating No. 15 Virginia Tech by 20 in the 2020-21 season.

The most impressive part of this game is that, they didn’t play all that differently from what they did on Wednesday against Michigan State, they simply made more shots. Which, probably, will mean Penn State will burn holes in a couple more teams moving forward, and will likely find itself in dumb games against others when the shots don’t fall. I’m hoping it’s more of the former and not the latter.

Purdue Boilermakers 65, Nebraska Cornhuskers 62 (OT)

MaximumSam: Heartbreak for the Huskers, who had Purdue on the ropes and just couldn’t quite get that last possession to go their way. Derrick Sky Walker held his own against Zach Edey, but the leader of the team was Keisei Tominaga, though when you lead the team in points you don’t have to settle for the Americanized version, so we’ll refer to him as 富永 啓生. He needs a better nickname - the “Japanese Steph Curry” is too boring and long. I thought of Santoku, which is a versatile Japanese knife. It literally means “three virtues” and refers to a knife that can be used for multiple things, though with a little effort it could refer to someone who is virtuous at shooting threes. Though I think he is better referred to as the blade. The edge of the knife is the hasaki, and the point is the kissaki. I kind of like referring to the guy as the tip of the blade. In any event, go Huskers.

BoilerUp89: Nebrasketball fought hard and their defensive strategy against Purdue is one that I would expect many teams to follow until Purdue starts knocking down open perimeter shots. Tominaga was awesome - I enjoy watching him play when it’s not against my team. Purdue had some minor defensive miscues (mostly errors by the freshman) but for the most part stayed locked in on that end of the court despite a rough offensive game. Finding a way to win when you can’t make a bucket is something last year’s team never did, so credit to the team for pulling out that victory. Nebraska deserved to get this win just as much, but the rules say that one team has to lose.

Arizona Wildcats 89, Indiana Hoosiers 75

MaximumSam: Arizona jumped on the Hoosiers early and were up 19 before the ten minute mark of the first half. Indiana got back into it, but could never quite get over the hump and get enough stops. Free throws were a story - Arizona went 17-25 while Indiana was just 7-9. Jalen Hood-Schifino was out again - hopefully he can get back when B1G season starts in earnest.

BoilerUp89: In the first half, Arizona showed why they are capable of winning it all and why they are capable of losing to a 16 seed. Super high ceiling and super low floor team which makes them really interesting. Indiana came out a bit flat footed, but despite that pulled back into contention at several points. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, every run was answered by an Arizona run. I wouldn’t read too much into this loss for IU. Arizona has the personnel to guard TJD and Race Thompson in the paint one-on-one and still be at an advantage. That’s not something the Hoosiers will see too much of.

Michigan State Spartans 68, Brown Bears 50

Sunday, December 11th

Tennessee Volunteers 56, Maryland Terrapins 53

MaximumSam: Maryland was, uh, ineffective in the first half. Ten minutes in, the score was 17-5. Fifteen minutes in it was 25-10. Watchable basketball this was not. To their credit, Maryland did come back in the second half and eventually made it a game down the stretch. I’m not sure what to take away from this game. The Terps shot 2-24 from three. The Vols went 12-45 from two. Might as well burn the tape of this game and forget it ever existed.

larry31: Technically, Maryland was the home team. But, the game was played at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, NY. Another game I did not expect Maryland to win. Tennessee owns the #1 rated defense in the country according to KenPom and the #3 overall team. The low score was totally expected and is not concerning to me. But, this was one ugly game, making the Maryland-Wiscy affair look like the ‘80’s Showtime Lakers against the Larry Bird-led Celtics. Woof! Who let the dogs out?

Earlier in the week, Willard said he made a huge mistake in scheduling. The away game against Lousiville in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, then home against Illinois, followed by an away game against Wisconsin, then traveling to Brooklyn for a “home” game led Willard to realize his team needed to be home practicing more rather than spending all this time traveling, especially at the end of the semester. It sounded like he was not expecting Maryland to play its best basketball against a very good Tennessee team. The first half was brutal. Maryland scored a whopping 17 points to Tennessee’s 34 points. That’s right, Tennessee doubled up Maryland’s score. Ouch. Maryland shot 13% for the first half. Not a typo.

To Maryland’s credit, they rallied in the 2nd half, posting a 50% field goal percentage in the 2nd half and they had a chance to tie the game on a 3-pointer that missed, losing 56 - 53. Tennessee killed it on the offensive glass, leading to a ton of second and third chance points. Very frustrating to watch for a Maryland fan.

It feels weird to go 0-2 for the week and not feel pissed or worried. And it’s nice to have KenPom validate my perspective. Maryland started the week ranked #18 and sit at #18 as I write this.

Wisconsin Badgers 78, Iowa Hawkeyes 75 (OT)

MaximumSam: With Kris Murray and Ahron Ulis unavailable, Coach Fran was already popping the sleeve of his blood pressure cuff. His sons tried to soothe him, as Patrick went for 24 and Connor went for 17. Unfortunately, the officiating crew wasn’t listening and let Wisconsin shoot 11 free throws, compared to just 17 for Iowa, leading to Fran trying to hold his breathe and shoot lasers from his eyes.

It wasn’t enough. Tyler Wahl led the Badgers with 21, and Connor Essegian added 14 to squeak out a good road victory.

Seton Hall Pirates 45, Rutgers Scarlet Knights 43

MaximumSam: Ugh, speaking of unwatchable basketball. Both teams shot an EFG below 40%, and Seton Hall’s Dre Davis led all scorers with ten points. Yes, ten. Rutgers’ leading scorer was Aundre Hyatt, who had 9. While we are burning tape, burn this one too.

misdreavus79: When keeping it real goes wrong!

Mississippi State Bulldogs 69, Minnesota Golden Gophers 51

MaximumSam: Another game, another blowout loss for the Gophers. Dawson Garcia had a nice game, finishing with 20 and 6, but nearly everyone else was a no show. Minny has three buy games before B1G season starts. Hopefully, they can get in some sort of rhythm, because it’s tough to see them winning any conference games at this point.

Northwestern Wildcats 61, Prairie View A&M Panthers 51

MNW: This was sure a basketball game!

Northwestern shot 29.5% from the field and 27.6% (8/29!) from deep. Prairie View committed to the bit, going 29.0% and 28.6% (8/28!) from deep. The Panthers’ 16 turnovers to Northwestern’s 9—along with their sub-50% FT rate—were the difference here.

Look we’re getting close to auto-respond territory here on NU basketball: they cannot shoot, and yet they have no other options—Chris Collins will continue to enable Boo Buie (4/15 and 2/7 from deep for 12 points, 7 assists) and Chase Audige (4/14 and 1/6 for 11 points, 6 reb, 5 blocks) because that’s it on offense. Things like Robbie Beran (6/11, 4/9 for 20 points and 12 rebounds) hitting uncontested look after uncontested look aren’t going to happen in Big Ten play. And thus it’s kinda “Ride the lukewarm hand and pray.”

I will say 15 assists on 18 makes is nice. But this team ain’t great.

Could be enough to avoid Wednesday in the Big Ten Tournament, I guess. Progress!