Wednesday, December 14th
UCLA Bruins 87, Maryland Terrapins 60
MaximumSam: UCLA put a whomping on Maryland, who have quickly lost all the shine they accumulated early in the season. They were down 29 at halftime and were down 37 in the second half. Jahmir Young got completely locked down, going 0-8 from the field. Not much to say other than Maryland was outclassed from the jump.
BoilerUp89: How did Maryland beat Illinois? This wasn’t even a stellar individual effort by any of the Bruins - just good shot selection, taking care of the basketball, and suffocating defense.
Minnesota Gophers 72, Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions 56
BoilerUp89: Good job Gophers. Freshman Braeden Carrington had the first 20 point performance of his career.
Thursday, December 15th
Wisconsin Badgers 78, Lehigh Mountain Hawks 56
MaximumSam: This one was actually interesting for a while, as Lehigh had a one point lead at halftime and this was a four point game with ten minutes left. Then Wiscy went on a big run and that’s all she wrote. Goodbye Lehigh, say hi to Miss Sly.
Saturday, December 17th
#17 Indiana Hoosiers (8-2) at #7 Kansas Jayhawks (9-1), 11 am, ESPN2
MaximumSam: When we last checked in with Kansas, they were squeaking by Wisconsin in overtime. They promptly got whupped by Tennessee, but then put a couple of whompings on Seton Hall and Missouri, who both have decent squads. Their statistical profile is pretty positive, outside of free throw shooting, but they don’t get to the line much so who cares. They are the anti-Minnesota.
They have a POTY candidate in Jalen Wilson, who averages 22 and 9. Gradey Dick is the Five Star Freshman shooting 47% from three. This will be an tough game for the Hoosiers, going on the road against a strong team. Jalen Hood-Schifino has apparently started practicing again, so he could possibly return. Still, he has been Just All Right this year. While they can make some hay with TJD at the basket, they need to shoot the ball well to win. Torvik gives this one to Kansas 74-68.
BoilerUp89: I disagree with the notion that Seton Hall and Missouri have decent squads this year. I’d be surprised if either made the NCAA tournament. I will admit though that Kansas seems to be rounding into form since their loss to Tennessee.
Jalen Wilson is definitely a national player of the year candidate and Gradey Dick is a a tremendous shooter. But while Arizona was a matchup nightmare for the Hoosiers, Kansas doesn’t have huge bodies in the paint. Their tallest guy that plays at least 10 mins/game is 6’8”. That’s a recipe for success for the Hoosiers offense.
I know this is a road game for the Hoosiers (and road games are difficult), but I think this one tells us a lot about Indiana’s ceiling for the year. If they can win (at least keep it competitive), Indiana can be an Elite 8/Final 4 caliber team with the right matchups in the tournament. If they can’t compete with the elite teams that they match up well with, the ceiling gets lowered.
#74 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-3) at #31 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (6-4), 11 am, BTN
MaximumSam: When we last saw Wake they were cooking Wisconsin behind 32 points from Tyree Appleby. Since then they got whipped by Clemson and dropped a tight one to LSU and needed a buzzer beater to get by Appy State. Further, Appleby was helped off the court late in that game and his status is unclear. If he’s unavailable, Wake will probably depend a lot on shooting guard Cam Hildreth and stretchy big man Andrew Carr. Feels like another 45-42 game incoming at the RAC. Torvik goes Rutgers, 69-61.
BoilerUp89: This is an important game for Rutgers bid chances. To date Rutgers best non-conference win is UMass-Lowell. With all due respect to the River Hawks, if that’s your best non-conference win, Rutgers is going to need to go 12-8 in the B1G again to get in the NCAA tournament. While that’s possible, a win here can lower that bar.
Tyree Appleby has been the star and one of just two reliable perimeter shooters for Wake. The other - Damari Monsanto - was held out of Wake’s last game against App State as the head coach hasn’t been happy with his effort in practice. Without either Appleby or Monsanto on the court, Rutgers should be able to pull out the victory over Wake. If they both play and are healthy, this could be interesting.
#146 DePaul Blue Demons (6-5) at #80 Northwestern Wildcats (7-2), 1 pm, BTN
MaximumSam: We saw DePaul put it on Minny early in the season, but that hasn’t meant so much. Since then they’ve struggled and dropped five games including ones to Santa Clara and Duquesne. They don’t play much defense or rebound, and usually their success is dependent on a couple guys getting tons of buckets. Wing Javan Johnson is averaging 18 a game and shooting 46% from three, while point guard Umoja Gibson is their second scorer. U v. Boo. Torvik tips Northwestern 69-61.
BoilerUp89: Mayor’s cup or something. I don’t know - MNWildcat will probably tell us why this game is important.
DePaul is a decent three point shooting team but they can’t rebound. Northwestern should crash the offensive glass to get some easy put backs.
#28 North Carolina Tar Heels (7-4) v. #27 Ohio State Buckeyes (7-2), 2 pm, CBS
MaximumSam: Former #1 in the country and currently unranked North Carolina heads to New York to face the Buckeyes. We last saw them losing to the Hoosiers, part of a four game losing streak. They still have twin towers in Armando Bacot and Old Friend Pete Nance, as well as a scorer in point guard Caleb Love. Their problems include generally ineffective defense and a lack of three point options, as well as a very thin bench. This game is at Madison Square Garden, so expect New Yorker Zed Key to be, uh, keyed up. Sounds like Ice Likekele and Eugene Brown are still unavailable. Torvik goes with OSU, 77-76.
BoilerUp89: The Tarheel’s biggest probably has been their defense. Sure, the three point shooting is below expectations, but they still have an effective offense as they avoid taking too many of them and work for good shots closer to the basket. Neither OSU nor UNC has the greatest defense and both have some effective offenses so this could be a fun one for neutral fans.
#324 Alabama A&M Bulldogs (3-6) at #22 Illinois Fighting Illini (7-3), 3 pm, BTN
#187 Lipscomb Bison (7-4) at #64 Michigan Wolverines (6-3), 3 pm, BTN+
#157 Davidson Wildcats (7-3) v. #5 Purdue Boilermakers (10-0), 5:15 pm, BTN
BoilerUp89: The Loyer brothers (Foster and Fletcher) get to face off against each other in Indianapolis. Purdue’s annual game in Indianapolis this year is against Davidson - usually a solid A10 team. Unfortunately, the retirement of Bob McKillop and succession of his son Matt has turned this from a potential solid game to just a risky one.
Foster is Davidson’s leading scorer but his younger brother has been giving all the Boilermaker guards tips on how to defend him. Davidson is an abysmal rebounding team while Purdue likes to get an advantage on the boards. 6’9” center Sam Mennenga will have his hands full on defense but he is a 43% shooter so this could be an interesting preview of how Edey guards the perimeter.
#85 Nebraska Cornhuskers (6-5) v. #46 Kansas State Wildcats (9-1), 6 pm, ESPN+
BoilerUp89: Kansas State’s defense lives by creating turnovers so it will be important for the Cornhuskers to value the basketball. Keyontae Johnson is a deadly three point shooter (15 of 30 on the year).
MaximumSam: I demand to know why they are hiding Keisei “Swaggy Santoku” Tominaga behind a paywall on ESPN+. This kind of flap could cause an international incident. Biden should demand action on behalf of the millions and millions of Husker basketball fans across the world.