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Off Tackle Open Threads: Nov. 17th Basketball

Thad Matta and the Ghost of Villanova

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Ohio State
Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports


Indiana Hoosiers 89, Wright State Raiders 80

BoilerUp89: Former Buckeye Tanner Holden had himself a game with 24 points and 8 rebounds for the Raiders. Not to be outdone, his teammate Andrew Welage shot 7 of 10 from behind the arc and scored 25 points. Holden and Welage kept this one closer than it should have been. Indiana got to the foul line early and often but were unable to convert the freebies (they shot 20 of 32 from the charity stripe). The Hoosiers are still struggling to shoot the ball in general outside of attempts close to the basket. Luckily for them, Kel’el Ware is simply bigger and stronger than anyone their opponents have had and has been able to dominant. That changes in Indiana’s next game versus UConn. Let’s see how Indiana adapts.

Oh, and Wright State’s best player so far this season did not play. Trey Calvin had 33 against Colorado State and 22 against Toledo. Calvin was named Horizon League Preseason Player of the Year but sat out due to a shoulder injury.

Missouri Tigers 70, Minnesota Golden Gophers 68

BoilerUp89: With 11:25 to play, the Gophers held a 20 point lead and were on the precipice of adding the Big Ten’s best win of the season. Instead they collapsed in painful fashion. Ben Johnson proved he doesn’t understand how to use timeouts when it comes to momentum. After an 8-0 run for the Gophers, Johnson called a timeout to halt their momentum. When Mizzou made their run, Johnson stood on the sideline dumbfounded and with did not call a timeout despite one remaining.

MaximumSam: I enjoyed the ref throwing Caleb Grill out of the game. Usually refs are quick on the trigger, but this ref thought about it for a while then played to the crowd, like Mr. Perfect in Wrestlemania 10. I did not enjoy watching Minnesota throw away the lead while Ben Johnson looked confused as to why he was in the building.


#87 Butler Bulldogs at #17 Michigan State Spartans (-8.5), 5:30 pm, FS1

MaximumSam: Very Old Friend Thad Matta brings his undefeated Bulldogs into East Lansing. He in turn is bringing Sparty’s Old Friend Pierre Brooks, who is leading the team in missed threes, so you know there is still some Sparty in there. Butler’s whole team is transfer heavy, but they did annihilate the first three (bad) teams they have faced. They also feature Name of the Year Candidate Finley Bizjack. Torvik says MSU, 76-64.

BoilerUp89: As a child I attended the Thad Matta basketball camp run by Sean Miller (Thad was not really interested in running the camp but loaned his name to the camp as the head coach of Xavier). Last year, I was in attendance when Thad made his long awaited return to the Cintas Center after a long, long absence. Yes, fans still booed despite the 20 year gap in history.

Back to the present... I have a ton of respect for Thad Matta as a basketball coach - anyone who doesn’t has forgotten just how good his Ohio State teams were at their peak. If Butler stays in the game against MSU, it will start with their defense Butler has beaten three directional schools in a row to start the season and held them to 55, 56, and 47 points. Offensively, guards DJ Davis and Posh Alexander have led the way in the early going with both scoring in double figures each game. Both are shooting the ball well, but Davis in particular has a track record of being able to fill it up from outside the arc.

#220 Morehead State Eagles at #141 Penn State Nittany Lions (-12.5), 6 pm, Peacock

MaximumSam: This game will answer the burning question everyone wants to know. Is Penn State better than Purdue? Purdue beat Morehead 87-57. If the Nits can exceed that we might as well skip the conference season. Torvik isn’t so sure, but goes PSU, 72-64.

BoilerUp89: Riley Minix was a force against the Boilermakers and Drew Thelwell is shooting the three ball extremely well so far this season. Can Penn State fix their rebounding issues? Morehead has been active on the offensive glass.

#281 Robert Morris Colonials at #40 Wisconsin Badgers (-19.5), 6 pm

MaximumSam: Wisconsin needs a get-right game and the Colonials should provide. They’ve already been cracked by Xavier and lost to Towson. They’re led by guard Justice Williams, an LSU transfer who has averaged 18 points a game. Torvik says Badgers, 77-58.

BoilerUp89: Bobby Morris financed the American revolution. Wisconsin is a hive of scum and villainy. Your rooting interests should be clear.

As for the game, the Colonials have struggled shooting the ball this year and give up a ton of offensive rebounds. That second issue might not matter against the Badgers since Gard’s teams have never been ones to attack the offensive glass.

#114 Long Beach State Beach at #36 Michigan Wolverines (-14.5), 6 pm

MaximumSam: I imagine the professors at Long Beach State have heard “Beach” jokes about 400,000 times in the wake of Barbie. For Michigan’s part, we can only hope they don’t talk a big game and then roll over like a bag of wet shoes. We know Michigan would never, ever talk about how their opposition has made a huge mistake and then fold like a used toothpick. That’s not the Michigan way. Torvik says the Wolverines settle for an 86-74 win.

BoilerUp89: I miss having Hunter Dickinson on the Michigan roster. You know he would have had some fun comments that we could talk about regarding Long Beach State. Despite a 1-2 record, Long Beach isn’t bad. They’ve yet to play a home game and their losses are to San Diego State and Portland while they beat DePaul. The Beach also have a Messiah on their team. Messiah Thompson to be more precise.

#346 Valparaiso Beacons at #34 Illinois Fighting Illini (-29.5), 7 pm

MaximumSam: Man, it’s been a while since a Drew has been in Valparaiso. I guess since there was a Stark in Winterfell. Torvik goes Illini, 82-56.

BoilerUp89: I liked them better when they were the Crusaders.

#189 Arkansas State Red Wolves at #43 Iowa Hawkeyes (-18.5), 7 pm

MaximumSam: Coming into the season I said Arkansas State would play slow. Then they played at a pace where Wisconsin scored 105. Now they play Iowa. We could see an NBA All Star game in this one. Torvik says Hawkeyes, 92-75.

BoilerUp89: Arkansas State also scored 100 against Alcorn State. I’m not entirely sure Alcorn State’s defense is worse than Iowa’s but I guess we will find out during this game.

#44 Maryland Terrapins (+6.5) at #31 Villanova Wildcats, 7:30 pm, FS1

MaximumSam: Two teams, two second year head coaches, and two mad fan bases. Maryland is coming off two losses to Davidson and UAB, while Villanova just got upended by Penn. Villanova brings in a veteran squad led by forward Eric Dixon and guard Justin Moore. Maryland fans will recognize Old Friend Hakim Hart, who played nine minutes and put up 0 points against Penn. Maybe Willard can swap for him at halftime. Torvik says Nova, 72-67.

BoilerUp89: What’s weird is that despite Maryland being much more successful under Willard last year than Villanova was under Nepture, I’m still much higher on Neptune’s coaching ability than Willard’s. Maybe I’m just reading too much into the fact that he made Fordham relevant in the A10 for the first time in forever. Justin Moore is a guy and has the potentially to take over this game if Maryland isn’t careful.

Bonus Saturday

No game thread tomorrow due to the footballing. Minny welcomes South Carolina Upstate on Peacock at 1 pm. Northwestern gets Rhode Island at 1:30. Rutgers gets Howard at 5 pm. The “Big” game is very loosely Nebraska against Oregon State, which is being played at the Sanford Pentagon in South Dakota. This raises many question - why is there a pentagon in South Dakota? Apparently, if you are in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, you can also attend a football Watch Party after the game, where they are serving $2 Busch Light. The more you know.