Tuesday, December 10th
Michigan State Spartans 69, #18 Wisconsin Badgers 65
BoilerUp89: An exceptionally physical game, even by Big Ten standards, this was a back and forth affair that saw 14 lead changes and neither team lead by more than six. Down 50-46 with 9 minutes to go, the Spartans would not miss a field goal the rest of the way. They went 8/8 from the field and 6/7 from the FT line down the stretch to grind out the victory.
The Badgers were without star center Tyler Wahl and got beat up on the boards 33-18. Now some of that was that Michigan State just made more shots and provided less defensive rebounding opportunities for the Badgers, but the rebounding advantage for Michigan State was key in a close game. The other two big differences in this game were free throws and turnovers. Michigan State went 16 of 17 from the charity stripe, while Wisconsin was limited to just 6 of 8. Despite the shooting, free throws, and rebounding though Wisconsin was able to keep this close by generating 14 turnovers while only having 5 of their own.
Joey Hauser had 20 points to lead all scorers on his return trip to the cheese state. 61 of Sparty’s 69 points came from the starting lineup - only Malik Hall scored off the bench. The Badgers were led by Steven Crowl’s 19 points but Crowl and fellow starting forward Carter Gilmore combined for just 4 rebounds.
BoilerUp89: The Fighting Illini steadily built up a 11 point lead by halftime, stretched it to 20 halfway thru the 2nd, and then extended it to the final margin following a mini-Nebraska run that cut it to 13. Neither team shot well from behind the arc (less than 30%), but they might have just been having trouble getting into rhythm due to the 24 fouls called in the first half.
Terrence Shannon Jr. had a double-double with 25 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Illini in both categories. Both teams were sloppy at times, but Illini won by being more effective inside the 3 point arc. The Illini made 20 of 32 two-point attempts while holding the Cornhuskers to just 16 of 40. In addition to the better shooting percentage, the Illini had more possessions due to some sloppiness by Nebraska resulting in 17 turnovers for the Cornhuskers.
BRT: Unwatchable. Literally. I have sat through a lot of bad Nebrasketball in my life, but this was some of the worst. Much of it was Nebraska’s fault (terrible ball control, terrible shooting), some of it was not.
Wednesday, December 11th
#43 Indiana Hoosiers (10-5, 1-3) at #44 Penn State Nittany Lions (11-5, 2-3), 6 pm, BTN
BoilerUp89: Another big important game for NCAA tournament resume purposes, both teams could use a win right now. Will Indiana figure out how to play some defense or will Jalen Pickett and the Nittany Lion shooters carve them up? On the other end of the court, does Penn State have anybody that can slow down Trayce Jackson-Davis? TJD can struggle with taller opponents at times, but has generally been dominant when playing against guys his own height or shorter. Penn State doesn’t have a big center to go against him.
MaximumSam: Grizzled veteran stars against freshmen? Sign me up. I feel like TJD will try to stuff Kebba Njie right through the basket. On the other end, Jalen Pickett will try to bury Jalen Hood-Schifino under the floorboards. They could both go for 40. Torvik says PSU 73-70.
#15 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (11-5, 3-2) at #49 Northwestern Wildcats (12-3, 3-1), 8 pm, BTN
BoilerUp89: Your (tied in the loss column) first place Northwestern Wildcats take on a Rutgers team that makes every opponent earn wins. These are two top ten in the nation defenses and they both hold opponents to low shooting percentages while generating a high number of turnovers. Both offenses though are not good. Rutgers is 31.2% from three and Northwestern 31.4% on the year. Each are below average inside the arc as well, but Northwestern has been especially hideous at just 43.6%.
If you like defensive grinds, this is the game for you. If you prefer offensive explosions, find a different game.
MaximumSam: One Brick to rule them all, one Brick to find them, one Brick to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them. One does not simply make a basket. Torvik says Rutgers 58-57.