Sunday, January 1st
MaximumSam: Michigan really needed the win, and boy did they show it. Michigan led 44-16 at halftime, led by Hunter Dickinson and his irrational hate for Maryland. He dropped 32 and 12 and was generally back to being the force of nature he hadn’t been the past few games. The team was nails on defense - they held Maryland to an EFG of 30% and generally made Maryland look like they had never played basketball before.
Speaking of Maryland, that’s the third game that they looked completely inept in the first half, following similar performances against Tennessee and UCLA. At some point, Kevin Willard needs to switch some things up. Donald Carey continues to be their three point ace despite the fact that he’s shooting 25% from three and went 0-8 last night. This team looked much better than expected early in the season, and now looks much worse than expected. Pick a pony, Terps.
MaximumSam: At halftime it looked like Hopeless Iowa was continuing, as PSU was up 44-26 and I flipped to BBQ Cookoff or whatever show they have on Hulu. Iowa did make a game of it, cutting the lead to two with about a minute left, but couldn’t quite get over the Nittany hump. Kris Murray looked healthy, playing 40 minutes and dropping 32 and 9. The team was undone (again), by three point shooting - 7/25 won’t cut it.
PSU continued their hot shooting with an EFG of 62% (that’s over double what Maryland shot). Jalen Pickett continued being awesome and went for 26 with 7 rebounds and 6 assists. He and Zach Edey are the frontrunners for POTY in the conference this season.
Ohio State Buckeyes 73, Northwestern Wildcats 57
MaximumSam: The Buckeyes went on the road and got a solid win on the strength of a great first half where they led by as many as 24. Defense was the name of the game, as they held Northwestern to an EFG of 35% and also held a small lid over the bucket, foiling all of Northwestern’s plans. Ohio State has climbed to 10th on Torvik, setting up a pretty good showdown on Thursday with Purdue.
Monday, January 2nd
#17 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (9-4) at #8 Purdue Boilermakers (13-0), 6 pm, BTN
MaximumSam: Purdue has a pretty tough week - while they are the darlings of the FancyStats in the B1G, they get the next two top teams this week in #17 Rutgers and #10 OSU. It may be the week they declare themselves the frontrunner or get in the dirt with everyone else. Rutgers is ranked 3rd in defensive efficiency and will try to turn the game into a wrestling match.
Fortunately for Purdue, they are well equipped for that. It remains true that stuffing Zach Edey into a trashcan is a physical impossibility. While Cliff Omoruyi is more well-equipped than most to handle him, guarding him 1 on 1 is a good recipe to foul out in 12 minutes. The bigger question will be how Purdue’s freshmen backcourt responds to the B1G grind, and few teams Grind more than Rutgers. If Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith can hit some threes after getting hip checked into the stands, they should be ok. Torvik goes Purdue, 63-58.