MNW: Penn State made a great adjustment at halftime, getting the ball in the hands of Jalen Pickett, who would effectively back down onto the left block, prompting Northwestern’s defense to collapse and struggling with the two-block game the Nittany Lions had going on. It was tradition, inside-out basketball, and it worked. In response, Boo Buie (7 assists, but 4/12 from the field) and Chase Audige (3/15 for 11, 3/8 from three) just continued to dribble-drive and bomb bad shots.
There are some things the ‘Cats just can’t plan for, like Dallion Johnson going 5/5 from deep for 15 points, but getting bullied inside by John Harrar is beyond the pale—why was Ryan Young sitting on the bench as Pete Nance clearly wanted no part of that smoke? Why wouldn’t Northwestern switch Julian Roper onto Pickett for those block isos?
Getting out-rebounded 45-29 is embarrassing. Losing despite winning the turnover battle 14-4 is disgusting. Your “big three” going a combined 12/38 (6/14 from three, admittedly) for 31 points is woefully inefficient.
And keeping this status quo at the end of the season would be willful negligence.
misdreavus79: Penn State this season has done a pretty good job of outperforming the second leg of the double plays, with the exception of Indiana (and, as the season closes out, we can all agree that game was a giant anomaly, even for my 10th-place Nittany Lions). Yet, in the first half, it sure looked like that was not going to be the case!
Both teams started both halves hot, and, in the first one, Penn State had its patented cold streak that led to a six-point Northwestern lead into the half. In the second half, after the Wildcats threw the zone wrinkle, Penn State started sending Jalen Pickett to the paint and creating mismatches inside, while also opening up shooters outside. Seven threes later (13 for the game), the Nittany Lions were in full control and simply needed to close the game out.
...except this is Penn State basketball and they had to make it interesting so two dumb fouls and a turnover later, and Northwestern nearly made the comeback.
#25 Iowa Hawkeyes 88, Nebraska Cornhuskers 78
See Jesse below for thoughts on Nebraska. We want for an Iowa writer, evidently.
Michigan State Spartans 68, #4 Purdue Boilermakers 65
BoilerUp89: Purdue holds a B1G tournament team to under 70 points for just the 2nd time all year (or 3rd if you want to count Indiana as a tournament team). Naturally the offense didn’t show up (it also didn’t in the Indiana game so...).
Just 11.1% from 3 - from the team that was 3rd in D1 in 3pt % coming into this game - and 17! turnovers. The Spartans defense deserves some credit for that, but you still can’t have that many turnovers if you want to win any game against a good team.
Purdue still controls their destiny for a share of the B1G title, but if you are like me this is just another example of why I stopped believing in the Purdue Final Four a couple of weeks ago. The offense can be great at times, but it’s not unstoppable as we’ve seen them falter a few times this year. And the defense isn’t capable enough to make up for that.
MaximumSam: I just want to complain about the refs. The last two seconds of this game took what felt like 45 minutes to complete. First, despite Purdue being out of timeouts, the refs called timeout after Walker’s big three point winner, apparently so they could check the clock? Then after Sparty threw a bad pass, the refs spent two hours discussing the ins and outs of basketball before deciding that their call was correct.
I hate replay. While I concede it can have a place, it inevitably consumes whole games. The end of this game was borderline unwatchable. Who tunes in to watch refs huddle around a monitor after every play? College basketball is as much about energy in the building as play on the court, and this stuff manages to kill both. Congrats, basketball rule nerds.
#13 Wisconsin Badgers 66, Rutgers Scarlet Knights 61
Kind of...: For the second time this year, Caleb McConnell played excellent defense on Johnny Davis, and Rutgers’ length and physicality kept Tyler Wahl and Steven Crowl in check (though Crowl hit a huge three as the shot clock expired to take the lead back late in the second half). But Brad Davison hit four threes and Chucky Hepburn’s 13 points included a big three to put UW up two possessions with about five minutes to play, minimal breathing room that served UW well the rest of the way. Hepburn also made Geo Baker work for his 19 points.
It was far from a work of art, but nobody gives a shit about style points when you’re playing on the road in the B1G, especially at the
RAC, er Blood and Spiders Arena, um Jersey Mike’s.
Wisconsin, who was picked 10th in the preseason poll, needs one win in their final two games (and one of them if home vs. Nebraska) to clinch a share of their second B1G title in the last three years.
RU in VA: We all knew the Knights run was going to become cold at some point. I swear, 6 foot 2 white guys with terrible haircuts are Steve Pikiell’s kryptonite. Davison, Weiskamp, Bohannon...the list will continue to go on.
A lot of forced bad mid-range looks doomed this game. We’ve really seen the limitations of the bench, as well. There are only a few players that can plug and play right now. The Knights are going to need a guard that can run around and hound three point shooters to make and real noise in the B1G tournament. That ‘length’ and ‘athleticism’ only goes so far when you wont take the two steps to defend the 3 line.
HWAHSQB: Illinois concludes their road portion of the B1G schedule at 7-3 overall and 7-1 against real Big Ten teams. Illinois will be favorites for the final two home games against PSU (10 pts or so) and Iowa (5-6 pts likely) although as the calendar flips past February, Fran and the boys get a little scary.
For the second game in a row, Alfonso Plummer went off, scoring 26 points in each outing, which is fun. For the second time in the last three games, Trent Frazier has nailed a three late in a close game while being guarded by a big after a switch to seal a win. That is also fun. Frazier doesn’t get enough credit for what he’s done. After being a top offensive option his first two years, he took a step back on the offensive side of the court and made himself into the top on-ball defender in the country. Curbelo befuddled the Michigan D and had a whopping +18 +/- in limited minutes. The other top two +/- contributors for Illinois were Coleman Hawkins and Luke Goode bringing defense, rebounding, and energy.
COCKburn > DICKinson has been confirmed again as Kofi racked up 27 points to Hunter’s 13. Underwood has now beaten Juwan’s Michigan Men all five times they’ve met and Michigan hasn’t beaten Illinois in 1144 days.
Thumpasaurus: Just like Ayo two years ago, I thought a Big Ten basketball crowd couldn’t get any quieter than Michigan’s during the late stages of a close game, but somehow Trent Frazier made them EVEN MORE QUIET!
Maryland Terrapins 75, #22 Ohio State Buckeyes 60
MaximumSam: A fairly easy game to describe. OSU shoots a wide open three. Clank. Maryland throws something at the rim. OSU watches Maryland rebound. Fatts Russell shoots from half court. Swish. Rinse and repeat.
WSR: Hey @mnw (after I asked him for a recap): No sabe nada. No hablo ingles.
OK. So Minnesota is clearly and obviously not a great basketball team. We have a bunch of guys who have no legs, but a lot of experience and heart. And what happens when you take that group and run into a team that has a couple really talented guys and a guy that has a ridiculous performance (Where the hell was that against wisconsin, Professor X?) is that they beat the hell out of you. Sure as shit, they did. But this team did the Minnesota thing where the game is clearly over at the 10 minute mark until it’s not over anymore. A little run and the next thing you know it’s a 2 possession game with under a minute to play and The Barn gets rocking. We may be bad and Gopher fans know it, but we’ll get behind this team every single time because they’re just a fun group of guys. I’m disappointed that this run is about over, and I really hope we get one last chance to cheer them on at home during an NIT game.
BuffKomodo: I don't even think this was just a game. It was a metaphor for Indiana basketball since 2002. Skeptical for a road win against a bad (bad now but they'll be good next year) team, Indiana came out firing. Even though the halftime margin was 7, that was due to a last second 3 by Minny. In the second half, Indiana would push their lead to 25, and then slowly degrade that margin to 3 in the closing minute. Saved by some XJ free throws, Indiana would hold on against a frantic comeback.
Xavier has truly been a bright spot over this conference season. He's playing great, and if we have this XJ in November, Indiana probably has 2 more conference wins to this point and we aren't worrying about a bubble. Race Thompson continued to do great things all night. TJD played fairly well as well. This sets up a pseudo-play-in game Wednesday when the ‘Gers come to the Hall. It's a must win for Indiana as they MUST get to 10 wins to be safely in the tourney, and Rutgers desperately needs to halt their skid to prevent playing themselves out of their tourney.
All in all? Ask me more about my feelings Wednesday night.
Nebraska 93, Penn State 70
Jesse: Look, it was said in our slack channel - and by literally everyone in Nebrasketball twitter - but if Nebraska plays like that, they can play with anyone.
Unfortunately, this year is basically a master class in losing focus, taking mediocre shots, forgetting what defense is, and generally being bad at basketball.
Am I annoyed that the last weekend of February is when this team decided to look its best? Yeah, that’s not great! But hey, maybe this is a sign that this can work. Two more chances to be a giant pain-in-the-ass. I’m hoping Bryce McGowens at least gets to put his mark on the program by doing something cool. We shall see.
misdreavus79: This would be upsetting if I weren’t a fan of Penn State basketball. But, like, also: 65% from three is just one of those performances when you throw out the tape and move on.
This poll is closed
More importantly: worst?
This poll is closed
Penn State (sorry: lose to Nebraska, you're on the list)
More bracketology, Big Ten coach of the year, surprise/disappointment of the year, tickle pickle, preview of tonight's games, and conference tournament chatter coming later today.
One of those things might not be true. I doubt we'll get an Iowa-Northwestern preview up.