Are you tired of college football season? Ready to move on to the superior sport of college basketball? Then I’ve got good news for you! The season officially starts tomorrow and we here at Off Tackle Empire are committed to following the season with you every step of the way.
Before the season gets underway, teams are able to utilize two preseason games to get into the flow of things. They can play two preseason contests consisting of exhibitions against non NCAA Division 1 programs, secret scrimmages against fellow NCAA Division 1 squads, or charity exhibitions against Division 1 competition. Secret scrimmages are not allowed to have press or fans, while charity exhibitions obviously have those things because otherwise they wouldn’t be able to raise money. Most Big Ten programs have gone with the approach of one game against Division 1 competition and one game against a non-Division 1 opponent. A handful of programs have decided to rack up wins while they can instead.
Every head coach treats preseason competition differently. Some coaches take the games seriously and treat them like regular competitions - scouting opponents and playing to win. Others will experiment with rotations, evaluate potential redshirt players, play with a modified rule set, and try things out. Occasionally secret scrimmages aren’t even games, just practicing different scenarios against your opponent. We really shouldn’t read too much into these games.
That won’t stop us though. It is our right to overreact and we will do so in this article and invite you to share your overreactions in the comments. What follows is a quick recap of the exhibition and scrimmage results from this preseason. Note, that due to their nature, information on secret scrimmages will be sparse. All numbers in front of a team are their AP preseason rankings.
25 Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois 116 - Ottawa Braves 65
Illinois 82 - 1 Kansas Jayhawks 75
The Illini made quick work of Ottawa in a warm up exhibition back on October 20. All 15 Illini played and 14 of them scored at least one point. Goode, Hawkins, Rodgers, Shannon Jr., and Domask started for Illinois and the Illini outrebounded the Braves 59 to 22.
Illinois followed the Ottawa win up with a statement victory against Kansas the following weekend as they raised money for Maui. Guerrier replaced Goode in the starting lineup. Terrence Shannon Jr. played inspired basketball and led all scorers with 28 points. Dainja played very sparingly.
OTE fan favorite and former Big Ten center Hunter Dickinson fell to 0-5 against Illini. Unfortunately for the Illini, since this was a preseason charity exhibition, their massive resume defining win will not be on their postseason resume. It’s still a promising sign for the Illini and gives a glimpse of their ceiling. They have the talent to join Purdue and Michigan State as national contenders this season.
Indiana 74 - Indianapolis Greyhounds 52
Indiana 94 - Marian Knights 61
Indiana won both of their scrimmages against non-Division 1 competition by 20+, but not everything went completely perfect. Against the Greyhounds the Hoosiers turned in a lackadaisical performance in the first half resulting in them being down two at the half. Kel’el Ware led the Hoosiers with a combined 34 points in the two games showing signs that he’s put behind him last year’s disappointing year in Eugene, Oregon. The Hoosiers attempted just 10 three pointers in their first game, but opened things up to attempt 17 against Marian. A lot of points have been coming from the trio of Ware, Reneau, and Mgbako whom Indianapolis and Marian really don’t have anyone to match up against.
Iowa POINTS - Wichita State Shockers LESS POINTS (Secret Scrimmage)
Iowa 103 - Quincy Hawks 76
The Hawkeyes have our first secret scrimmage to discuss. They reportedly beat the Shockers in what may have been a close game - I’ve seen 20+ and a couple of possessions both stated in the dark corners of the internet. Starters are rumored to have been Dix, Perkins, P. Sandfort, P. McCaffery, and Krikke. Wichita was missing three contributors and is expected to be a middle of the pack American squad so I wouldn’t read too much into the fact that Iowa beat them.
Against Quincy, Bowen replaced Dix as a starter. After being down 10 to the Hawks early, the Hawkeyes responded to run away with the game. The scoring was balanced for Iowa with 7 players in double figures.
Maryland 74 - Cincinnati Bearcats 70 (Secret Scrimmage)
Maryland ? - Virginia Cavaliers ? (Secret Scrimmage)
Maryland played two secret scrimmages and details are sparse.
Against the Bearcats, Jahmir Young scored 23 points and the Terrapins escaped a close one. Cincinnati was without big man Aziz Bandaogo. Cincinnati also lost to Indiana State by 2 in a secret scrimmage this fall.
Versus their former ACC pals, the Cavaliers, no details have leaked out following that game. This is a little strange since last year we know that Virginia won by 6 in a secret scrimmage. Since we’ve had a departure in the two sides not leaking the results, I’m assuming one of the squads got massacred and both agreed to keep it quiet.
Michigan 115 - 5 Marquette Golden Eagles 111 (Secret Scrimmage)
Michigan 92 - Northwood Timberwolves 45
Michigan and Marquette played four 12-minute quarters which explains some of the high scoring nature of their secret scrimmage. No other details have leaked. Marquette won the Big East last year and returns just about everyone from last season’s squad so if they weren’t experimenting too much this would be a really encouraging result for Michigan. It’s also possible that Marquette benched all their top 8 plays for the last 24 minutes of play after opening up a 50 point lead. We simply don’t know.
The Wolverines held the Timberwolves to 25.7% shooting. Tray Jackson led all scorers with 20 points off the bench for Michigan. McDaniel, Reed, Nkamhoua, Burnett, and Williams started for Michigan.
4 Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State 85 - Hillsdale Chargers 43
9 Tennessee Volunteers 89 - Michigan State 88
In an exhibition against Hillsdale, the Spartans dominated their opponent so much that Hillsdale is probably considering closing down the school. Walker, Cooper, Carr, and Akins scored in double figures while star Steven Izzo went 2 for 2 from the free throw line to finish out the scoring for Michigan State. Well done, Spartans.
Sparty then played a thriller against Tennessee in a charity exhibition for Maui relief (this was the first game of a double header on BTN followed by Illinois-Kansas). Tennessee started on fire and built a 18 point lead following a 17-1 start, but Michigan State fought back to make this a game and had closed the deficit to three by halftime. Down three late, Michigan State stole the ball and A.J. Hoggard hit a three pointer to tie the game with 8 seconds left. Unfortunately, an untimely foul then sent Tennessee to the free throw line where they made 1 of 2 to pull out the victory. Tyson Walker led Michigan State with 22 points and was joined in double figures by Hall, Hoggard, and Akins.
Michigan State is mortal.
Colorado State Rams 87 - Minnesota 49 (Secret Scrimmage)
Minnesota 97 - Macalester Scots 73
Look away Gopher fans. At least you have hockey.
Niko Medved auditioned for the Gophers job by taking the current squad behind the woodshed. Ben Johnson is grateful this was a secret scrimmage. You don’t want to read too much into any secret scrimmage game - and Colorado State should fight for an at-large bid if they can avoid the injury bug that bit last year’s team - but losing by 38 points isn’t what you want to see if you are a Gophers fan. As a reminder, Medved is a Gophers alumni. Minnesota isn’t going to screw this up and not hire Medved a second time, right?
The Gophers rebounded by beating the Scots by 26 in an exhibition despite allowing Scots guard Caleb Williams to erupt for 41 points. Ola-Joseph led the Gophers with 21 points and Dawson Garcia had a double-double. Just 8 players played more than 7 minutes despite this being an exhibition: starters Ola-Joseph, Garcia, Ihnen, Hawkins, Carrington, and Mitchell were joined by Fox and Betts off the bench. I know Minnesota needs to make sure they win every game they can, but the lack of exploring your roster seems odd when they are supposed to be deeper this year. Maybe I’m missing some details.
Utah Utes 83 - Nebraska 81 (Secret Scrimmage)
Nebraska 84 - Doane Tigers 53
Nebraska and Utah played two 20 minute scrimmages separated by joint drills between the two teams. Nebraska won the first 43-38 but lost the second 45-38. Keisei Tominaga led all scorers with 22 points. The Cornhuskers were without two front court starters (presumably Gary and Mast).
Against Doane, Nebraska started five guards (Wilcher, Hoiberg, Williams, Lawrence, and Tominaga) as forwards and centers Juwan Gary, Josiah Allick, Rienk Mast, Blaise Keita, and Ramel Lloyd Jr. were are unavailable. Tominaga was also limited to just 8 minutes as he suffered what appears to be a minor ankle injury. The Cornhuskers need to get healthy fast as they shot just 24% from three and don’t currently have any post players but Doane proved to be no more than a speed bump. Eli Rice led the Cornhuskers in scoring with 18 points off the bench.
Iowa State Cyclones X + 6 - Northwestern X (Secret Scrimmage)
Northwestern 85 - McKendree Bearcats 63
For the second consecutive season, Iowa State and Northwestern met up in a secret scrimmage. Other than the fact Iowa State won by 6, no details have emerged. Clearly Northwestern doesn’t have a very good journalism school if they can’t even report what happened in this meaningless scrimmage.
Brooks Barnhizer announced that he is ready for a breakout season against McKendree. The Lafayette, Indiana product had 29 points, seven rebounds, five steals, four assists, and four blocks. The Wildcats had just three turnovers as a team and turned McKendree’s 20 turnovers into 29 points.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State 78 - Dayton Flyers 70
Clemson Tigers 86 - Ohio State 64 (Secret Scrimmage)
Ohio State and Dayton played a charity game to raise money for mental health programs in Ohio. While I applaud the charity fundraising, I take this opportunity to ask why does Ohio State not play Dayton, Xavier, or Cincinnati more often during regular season non-conference games? To their credit they were forced into playing Xavier in the Gavitt Games last year and just came off a home and home with Cincinnati, but these games have been few and far between. Anyway, Thornton led the Buckeyes with 21 points. Dayton star DaRon Holmes II did not play in the last 16 minutes.
Their scrimmage against Clemson was played behind closed doors. Okpara and Key started alongside each other and played heavy minutes as Jamison Battle was dealing with a family issue in Minneapolis. Devin Royal and Taison Chatman were also unavailable for the Buckeyes due to injuries. The Buckeyes had a poor shooting day and Roddy Gayle is rumored to have struggled with turnovers in this one.
Penn State Nittany Lions
22 Villanova Wildcats ? - Penn State ? (Secret Scrimmage)
Penn State 68 - Robert Morris Colonials 58
I’m assuming Villanova beat Penn State in a secret scrimmage. Both because Villanova is expected to be good this year and Penn State doesn’t appear to be great based on their other preseason contest. However, we don’t really know. Maybe Penn State shocked the world with a huge victory. This is another in-state game that a Big Ten team should play during the regular season more often.
In a charity exhibition for Coaches vs. Cancer, Penn State defeated the Colonials by 10. With three minutes to play the Nittany Lions led by just five points, but they were able to hold Robert Morris scoreless in the final three minutes to get the victory. Qudus Wahab led the way with a 15 point, 10 rebound double-double. Ace Baldwin Jr. added 13 points and 6 assists. Robert Morris is expected to be a sub 300 quality team this year so the result is concerning.
3 Purdue Boilermakers
14 Arkansas Razorbacks 81 - Purdue 77 (Overtime)
Purdue 98 - Grace Lancers 51
Purdue went on the road to face Arkansas and raise money for Arkansas tornado relief. In front of a packed crowd, the Boilers fell to Arkansas. Clearly the Boilermakers have learned nothing from last year’s issues and it’s time to consider firing Matt Painter.
That or Matt Painter scheduled a game in a raucous environment against a top 20 team with elite length and athleticism because that’s the exact type of opponent last year’s team struggled with and they need the practice against those types of teams. Despite 20 turnovers, poor shooting (29.6% from three), Purdue not scouting Arkansas, and limited minutes from Zach Edey (foul trouble), Purdue still held a three point lead prior to a late Arkansas three pointer that sent the game to overtime.
There was some odd lineup experimentation by Purdue in the first half, but they also clearly played to win this game especially in the second half. You don’t like losing and there’s clearly some things to work on, but Arkansas was favored (yes, there was a spread on this game for some reason) and I’m encouraged by the performance.
Against Grace College, Purdue ran away with the game despite Matt Painter continuing to experiment with lineups and rotations. Zach Edey scored 19 points but missed his first three point attempt in a game ever. Lance Jones and Braden Smith combined to go 6 of 10 from three. The rest of the team was just 2 of 17 from behind the arc.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Rutgers X + 32 - DePaul X (Secret Scrimmage)
St. Johns Red Storm 89 - Rutgers 78 (2 OT)
Rutgers beat up on DePaul in a secret scrimmage behind closed doors. It’s rare to get many details when a secret scrimmage is so lopsided, and this one isn’t any different than the usual.
In the battle for the hearts and minds of New York City, Rutgers met St. Johns in a charity exhibition benefitting the Dick Vitale Pediatric Cancer Research Fund at the Jimmy V Foundation. I don’t understand why Steve Pikiell is willing to play high majors during unofficial games but not during the actual season.
Against Rick Pitino’s Red Storm, Rutgers fell in double overtime after clawing their way back from a 20 point deficit in the second half. Griffiths, Simpson, Omoruyi, Palmquist, and Hyatt started for the Knights. Rutgers shot 20% from three including 0 of 11 in the first half. At least their defense was solid, holding St. John’s to 36.6 from the field and just 26.3% from three.
Wisconsin ? - Northern Iowa Panthers ?
Wisconsin 87 - Wisconsin Stevens Point Pointers 44
Wisconsin and Northern Iowa played three periods in their yearly secret scrimmage. I’m not sure why they thought playing hockey rules would help prepare for basketball season, but weird things happen in the desolate frozen wasteland that is Wisconsin. The Badgers won two of the three periods and were led by AJ Storr’s 18 points.
Against Stevens Point, the starters were Storr, Crowl, Wahl, Hepburn and Klesmit. AJ Storr once again led the team with 14 points. He was joined in double figures by Crowl (10) and Essegian (11). The Badgers scored as many points in the paint as the Pointers scored from anywhere.