VCU Rams 86, Penn State Nittany Lions 74
BoilerUp89: Penn State finishes dead last in their MTE by losing to head coach Mike Rhoades former school by 12. Ace Baldwin Jr. played all 40 minutes against his former school to score 27 points, but he was inefficient in getting those 27 points going 8 of 19 from the floor. The Nittany Lions lost the rebounding battle again; this time by 29-36 margin. That’s similar to last season, but they don’t have the three point shooting to make up for it this year. VCU went 8 of 15 from three including 5 of 6 from Alphonzo Billups III off the bench.
MaximumSam: Disappointing for the Nits to go 0-3 in their tourney. Also disappoint - Kanye Clary exited with some sort of arm injury. He tried to return but it wasn’t happening.
Nebraska Cornhuskers 85, Cal State Fullerton Titans 72
BoilerUp89: Nebraska owns what is tied for the 2nd longest winning streak in the nation at 7. Sure Duquesne is the only decent team they’ve played, but Nebrasketball is winning the games on their schedule. The Cornhuskers had balanced scoring with five players in double figures. Keisei Tominaga did not miss a single shot, going 5 for 5 from the field and 4 of 4 at the free throw line. Titans guard Max Jones dropped 30 points to keep this one respectable for Fullerton.
Indiana Hoosiers 89, Harvard Crimson 76
BoilerUp89: Indiana got their first double digit victory of the season. In the first half, Harvard made three pointers to take a 1 point lead into halftime. In the second half they stopped making threes and Indiana was able to pull away. Kel’el Ware overmatched Harvard and scored 28 points while missing just 1 field goal attempt. Mgbako had his best game of his Hoosier career with 18 points and 8 rebounds.
The bad news for Indiana however come on the injury report. Xavier Johnson attempted to play through a foot injury, but appeared to reaggravate it and was forced to go to the locker room and did not play in the 2nd half. It is the opposite foot as the one he broke last year so hopefully he will be fine in a few days. Malik Reneau also played through a back injury but was forced to come out of the game several times.
San Francisco Dons 76, Minnesota Golden Gophers 58
BoilerUp89: The Gophers trailed the entirety of the game following the Dons first possession, but did get it to within 1 with about 13 minutes to play. The Dons then pulled away and we are left with another Gophers loss against decent competition. After losing to Missouri and San Francisco, the Gophers now have zero opportunities remaining to get even one top 200 non-conference victory this season. It’s year 3 of the Ben Johnson experiment and the best non-conference win might end up as Ball State or Florida Gulf Coast if they can pull either one of those off. Otherwise, maybe UTSA?.
Congratulations are due to Dawson Garcia who had 19 points and reached 1000 career points. Unfortunately his fellow starters combined for 8 points on just 3 of 9 shooting from the field and 2 of 2 from the charity stripe. The rotations and game plan were confusing, there are too many black holes in the starting lineup, and the defense was ... well, let me share a stat about the defense. San Francisco entered the game with 15, 17, 14, 17, and 13 turnovers in their games against Division 1 competition. Simply put, they’ve struggled to not turn the ball over against middling competition. Yesterday against the Gophers they had just 6 turnovers. There are different ways to play defense and you don’t necessarily have to generate turnovers to be successful (Purdue, Nebraska, and Illinois don’t), but you have to do something to make your opponent uncomfortable on offense. The Dons ran their actions without having to worry about the Gophers at all.
MaximumSam: So...Minnesota went to San Francisco to get blown out. Is...is Minnesota the buy game?
#266 Saint Peter’s Peacocks at #63 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-15.5), 6 pm
MaximumSam: The Ghosts of Purdue’s past show up in the RAC, though not much remains from their Sweet Sixteen run in 2022. Guard Latrell Reid is, as far as I can tell, the only player left, and he does lead the team in points and assists. Both of these teams struggle to score but play some defense - I can see why this is relegated to BTN Plus. Torvik goes Knights, 68-54.
The Peacocks have not left the state of New Jersey this season. They’ve played three road games at Seton Hall, FDU, and NJIT in addition to a home game against UMass Lowell. Their one victory came against future 16 seed and Purdue dream killer NJIT. Saint Peter’s plays slow and hacks everyone on defense. So long as Rutgers makes their free throws they will be okay. If they don’t make their free throws (and this is where I point out that Rutgers is shooting just 63.6% from the charity stripe this year), this might get interesting.
#343 Western Illinois Leathernecks at #34 Wisconsin Badgers (-27.5), 6 pm, BTN
MaximumSam: I’ve already given my Western Illinois spiel when they played Illinois. Semper Fi. They are still bad. Torvik goes Wiscy, 82-57.
BoilerUp89: Back when we had NCAA basketball videogames, I started my coaching career with the Leathernecks. They won multiple NCAA championships before I moved on to greener pastures. Unfortunately for WIU fans, the current roster can’t shoot nearly as well as my videogame Leathernecks roster.
#165 Northern Illinois Huskies at #47 Northwestern Wildcats (-11.5), 7 pm
MaximumSam: Not sure why this game is relegated to BTN+ in favor of Wisconsin drubbing someone, but this could potentially be a decent game. The Huskies are 5-1, with their only loss being to Marquette, and there’s no shame in that. They have a dynamo at point guard in 5’11’’ junior David Coit, who goes for 20 a game. The Buie-Coit battle should be a good one, though hopefully Northwestern can button everyone else down. Torvik says Cats, 78-65.
BoilerUp89: It’s relegated because the network heads at BTN don’t appreciate good basketball. That or Northwestern hasn’t had their yearly basketball game on BTN+ yet and its their turn.
NIU likes to get out and run but aren’t a great rebounding team. The Wildcats should be able to control the glass and gain some extra possessions. The Huskies get to the free throw often so don’t be shocked if there are a bunch of whistles in this final tune up for Northwestern before their Big Ten opener on Friday.