Saturday, January 7th
Illinois Fighting Illini 79, Wisconsin Badgers 69
MaximumSam: Illinois finally got in the win column, and the Badgers finally got in the loss column, and things made sense in the world for one day. Wisconsin was competitive even without Tyler Wahl, as Chucky Hepburn and Steven Crowl both went for 20. That couldn’t overcome Coleman Hawkins inexplicably going 6-9 from three, or Terrence Shannon reemerging from Witness Protection to drop 24 and 8. Illinois seemed to move the ball a lot better in their first game since Skyy Clark shot himself into the sky, so we’ll see if that keeps up.
Nebraska Cornhuskers 81, Minnesota Gophers 79 (OT)
MaximumSam: Oh so close to a Big Ten victory for the Gophers. They were ahead after a half, even after regulation, but just a basket away in overtime. Unfortunately, that’s the one that counts, so the Gophers still sport an 0-fer (HEYO!) in Big Ten play.
Michigan State Spartans 59, Michigan Wolverines 53
MaximumSam: It wasn’t quite the banger we hoped for, and no one got in a fist fight, so as a game it was a disappointment. Both teams brought their bricklayers hats, as MSU went 6-19 from 3 and Michigan went 3-20. Michigan’s problems were familiar - everyone not named Dickinson, Howard, or Bufkin combined for ten points. Sparty survived a scare for Malik Hall, who was limping after seemingly aggravting his foot injury. He returned and Sparty held on for an ugly win.
Also, I want to rant against the refs. The obsession with following rules instead of managing the game meant we had to watch the refs huddle around a monitor for twenty minutes to determine whether there was 0.1 seconds left on the clock and let the Spartans shoot two completely meaningless free throws. That was a waste of everyone’s time, got the teams pissed off, but maybe some degenerate gamblers were happy. Might as well prep for Vegas to get their own replay button to make sure the calls were right.
Sunday, January 8th
#65 Northwestern Wildcats (11-3, 2-1) at #27 Indiana Hoosiers (10-4, 1-2), 11 am, FS1
MaximumSam: An interesting game in Bloomington. Before the season, we would have called this a no-brainer Hoosier win. Now, with Indiana looking a bit thin and Northwestern looking ferocious on defense, the game requires more of a brain. The Hoosiers did get some good news, as Race Thompson could potentially return to the team at some point. It won’t be today though, so Indiana is going to have to grind it out and make some shots to beat a game Wildcat squad. Torvik goes Hoosiers, 66-60.
#68 Iowa Hawkeyes (9-6, 1-3) at #11 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (11-4, 3-1), 11 am, BTN
MaximumSam: Iowa willed themselves out of their funk against the Hoosiers. Now they head to the RAC and face perhaps the B1G’s best team and very likely its best defense. Rutgers games tend to be a war of between Rutgers body checking teams into the boards v. Rutgers inability to make shots. We’ll see how Iowa sorts it out, though their shooting woes aren’t a good sign. Torvik goes Rutgers, 75-64.
#10 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-4, 2-1) at #71 Maryland Terrapins (10-5, 1-3), 12 pm, ESPN
MaximumSam: The Buckeyes head to Maryland, where they got bopped last season by fifteen. They are also likely without Zed Key, who left with a shoulder injury against Purdue. That means Felix Okpara probably gets his first start, which also means the Bucks will start three freshmen, which is not great. Maryland has been in a tailspin themselves, mostly because they can’t shoot straight from outside. Donald Carey showed some signs of getting out of his funk in his last game. He and Donta Scott take the bulk of their three attempts but are only shooting 27%, which is a percentage usually reserved for your backup centers. Torvik goes Buckeyes, 72-68.
#8 Purdue Boilermakers (14-1, 3-1) at #44 Penn State Nittany Lions (11-4, 2-2), 5 pm, BTN
MaximumSam: Small Ball verses Big Ball comes to a head in this game. PSU plays one guy over 6’8’’, and that is fairly ineffective freshman Kebba Njie. He will draw Mega-center Zach Edey, and I’m wondering if PSU doesn’t just fully commit to the bit and roll out five shooters against Purdue instead of trying to pretend to guard Edey. Torvik picks Purdue, 68-65.