It’s February and things are getting serious in both the Big Ten title race and the struggle for bubble relevancy. Nebraska also exists.
Tuesday, February 1
#13 Michigan State Spartans 65, Maryland Terrapins 63
Green Akers: MSU has now played four of its ten B1G games to margins of two points or less after—and stop me if you’ve heard this before—putting up a careless weeknight effort after a fantastic Saturday performance, making what should have been an easy win into a nail biter.
Malik Hall played the hero, and Joey Hauser’s redemption arc is picking up steam (still do not think he has any business guarding centers). But the wildly inconsistent point guard play, baffling rebounding anemia from the 5s, and Gabe Brown’s now-official Shooting Slump give Izzo plenty of things to work on with a race-to-50 game coming @Rutgers on Saturday.
Northwestern Wildcats 79, Rutgers Scarlet Knights 78 (Overtime)
MNW: A first half characterized by fast ball movement, fast breaks, and dynamic offense managed to open up a 24-point lead in the second half...of which Northwestern promptly blew every single goddamn point. Because Chris Collins took his foot off the gas.
Credit Rutgers’ switch to a zone for stymieing the ‘Cats here—something I haven’t seen Northwestern fans talk enough about when screaming about how Chris Collins should be fired, which, I mean...—but when we’re talking about Pete Nance getting benched in crunch time? Chase Audige and Boo Buie missing three straight free throws with the game on the line with under 10 seconds left in overtime?
Whatever. They won. No further questions.
BoilerUp89: Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Nebraska faced off against a Big Ten opponent, kept things close for the majority of the game, and then found a way to allow the opponent to score the last 6 points to win the game. No, this isn’t Nebraska football. This is Nebrasketball.
McGowens had 24 points for the Cornhuskers but Nebraska didn’t have an answer for Hunter Dickinson who had 26 in just 23 minutes of play. The Wolverines put themselves in position for the upset with a paltry 2 of 13 shooting from behind the arc, but they outrebounded the Cornhuskers by 15.
Wednesday, February 2
#4 Purdue Boilermakers 88, Minnesota Gophers 73
BoilerUp89: Before I talk about Purdue, I need to recognize the play of several Gophers during Wednesday night’s game. As a whole the Gophers shot 11-22 from 3 and limited themselves to just 5 turnovers. Jamison Battle and Payton Willis both played all 40 minutes. Battle had 21 points, while Willis had a double-double of 24 points and 10 assists in addition to adding 5 rebounds, 3 steals, and a block. The Gophers battled all night and honestly played a pretty good game but just didn’t have the size to deal with Purdue.
Zach Edey was too much for Minnesota to handle. Charlie Daniels, Eric Curry, and Treyton Thompson all picked up 4 fouls and combined for only 10 points and 3 rebounds. Edey meanwhile had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Boilermakers and forced Minnesota to go to a zone defense once their bigs were in foul trouble. The zone did help the Gophers cut the lead from 19 to 7 as Purdue started settling for ill advised threes instead of attacking the weak spots of the zone. But Matt Painter called a timeout and Purdue got back to getting the ball inside to Edey or having Edey just collapse the zone defense so that the guards and wings had space to attack towards the rim which resulted in Purdue building the lead back up to comfortable double digits.
The Boilermakers matched Minnesota from 3 point land going 50% on 12 of 24 shooting and shot 55.6% from the field overall. For the first time in recent games the free throw shooting of the Boilers returned to respectable numbers of 6 for 8. But the game was essentially won on the rebounding battle with Purdue outrebounding Minnesota 39 to 23. Eric Hunter Jr. continued his mid season breakout and had a career high 20 points along with a 2:0 assists:turnover ratio. Sasha Stefanovic joined the 200 career 3 pointers list and now sits at 9th on the Purdue list. Here’s hoping that Purdue plays enough games this year for him to seriously challenge Carsen Edwards’ 281.
#18 Illinois Fighting Illini 80, #13 Wisconsin Badgers 67
Steven Crowl and Brad Davison clanking wide open threes all night had me absolutely howling. Trent Frazier and Da’Monte Williams are just fantastic defenders, and the Krush suffers no goons.
Kind of...: Um, UW shoot terribly from 3 and let Kofi run wild, so there’s no scenario in which they deserved to win. Such is life on the road in the B1G. That said, the Badgers were surprisingly close, given the above, for most of the night, and I’m not feeling all the down today about the effort.
As for Illinois, at full strength, they might be the best team in the conference. However, if they crap out of the NCAA early again, I think you can look at last night and see the faint blue print. Tyler Wahl ran wild for much of the first half and there certainly exist bigger, burlier teams that can double harder on Kofi.
As for the Orange Krush...a brainteaser: how can you suffer no goons if, throughout your history, you’ve had goons as members?
HWAHSQB: They’re not goons if they’re on our side. This is one of the immutable truths of sports fandom.
Kofi is getting lauded and praised throughout the basketball world, but let’s give a quick shoutout to Frazier, Grandison, and Williams. That trio combined for 16 assists and 2 turnovers. Also, let’s talk more about the best defensive player in the country, Trent Frazier. Coming into the game, when the player he guarded used a pick and roll, they were getting a paltry .538 PPP in those possessions, the best in the country. It’s probably even lower after last night.
Bo Ryan was not a likable person, but Greg Gard, who I originally thought was milquetoast, actually made a funny last night, saying in the post game presser that the next time they play Kofi, he’s going to tape Crowl and Vogt together so they have a chance to guard him.
I also have a brainteaser. At the end of the day, do you know what is great about beating wisconsin to take sole possession of first place in the B1G?
Thursday, February 3
Iowa Hawkeyes at #16 Ohio State Buckeyes - postponed
BoilerUp89: As a result of a little snow, Iowa was unable to fly to Columbus for Thursday’s game and it has been postponed. They had the option to travel via railroad but refused because they hate trains. No word yet on when it will be made up. The Buckeyes now have two games to reschedule.
Who had the best week?
This poll is closed
Northwestern turns season around
Illini take 1st place
Boilermakers for not having an injury
Iowa for avoiding Columbus
Other - By choosing this option you are legally obligated to tell us who in the comments or send a donation of Culvers to OTE Headquarters
More importantly, who had it the worst?
This poll is closed
Wisconsin falls into 3rd place
Rutgers loses in overtime
Nebraska’s tournament hopes depend on the Big Ten Tournament
Other - We will also accept donations to the OTE curling team as we prepare for representing Team USA in the 2026 Olympics if you don’t wanna tell us who