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Off Tackle Open Threads: December 1st Basketball

Finally, Some B1G on B1G Crime.

NCAA Basketball: Empire Classic-Connecticut at Indiana
Xavier Johnon’s number is a tribute to the Hoosiers three point percentage
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Recaps

Minnesota Golden Gophers 97, New Orleans Privateers 64

MaximumSam: TGD. Total Gopher Domination.

BoilerUp89: The Gophers had just 12 turnovers (3 of which came from deep reserve Jack Wilson in the closing stretch of the game) and that meant New Orleans wasn’t able to get easy buckets in transition. Combine that with the Privateers going 1 of 11 from three and the Gophers having their way in the paint and you have a blow out victory for Minnesota. Freshman guard Cam Christie had 20 points off the bench to lead all scorers. He should probably be starting, but you do you, Ben Johnson.

Conference season is finally here and with it the opportunity to show that the non-conference doesn’t matter. Sure, Maryland and Indiana haven’t been the most impressive so far but both still have the opportunity to go 20-0 in B1G play or win the Big Ten regular season. This is what college basketball is all about - winning the Big Ten regular season. Nothing that comes after that matters... breaks down crying

The competition is about to ramp up and games will get harder, but the mistakes of the non-conference can be erased with a great conference performance. My favorite example of this phenomenon was the 2014-15 Purdue season, when the Boilermakers started out 8-5 with losses to North Florida and Gardner-Webb. There was a very real possibility that Matt Painter would be fired at the end of the season. Purdue then finished 12-6 in the Big Ten to make the NCAA tournament and have not missed a tournament field since. Sometimes teams just need to get to Big Ten play to turn things around.

What is your favorite in season turnaround prompted by conference play?

Previews

#53 Maryland Terrapins (4-3) at #58 Indiana Hoosiers (5-1) (-3.5), 6 pm, BTN

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
Do you know how difficult it was to find a photo of these teams from last season without TJD?
Alex Martin/Journal and Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

MaximumSam: The first B1G matchup presents two teams who have haven’t exactly lit the world on fire. Maryland had a very disappointing start, losing to Davidson and UAB in their tourney and then getting drubbed on the road by Villanova. Indiana didn’t suffer any unexpected losses, but looked pretty unconvincing in all of their games, which included a blowout loss to UConn.

The Hoosiers do sport a strong inside game with Kel’el Ware and Malik Reneau, but they’ve displayed almost no outside game at all. They are 350th in three point rate and 349th in three point percentage. That’s impressive for the crowd that thinks the three point line ruined the game, but not great for winning modern games. But they are great at twos, and they get to the line at one of the top rates in the country.

Maryland has been a little similar with Julian Reese and Donta Scott. They have been even worse shooting threes than Indiana, even if they take a lot more of them. Jahmir Young was supposed to drive the offense, and he has, but his shooting numbers have been fairly rough early. His counterpart for Indiana, Xavier Johnson, is iffy to play due to injury. Torvik goes Hoosiers, 71-68.

BoilerUp89: Probably the two most disappointing Big Ten teams versus preseason expectations. If either teams finds a way to shoot threes for this game, they probably win this game. If both continue to struggle behind the arc, I may actually like Maryland a bit more despite them being the road team.

The Terrapins have been a better rebounding team and have the better defense. Those things should travel. Indiana has the better interior scoring, but a lot of that has come against smaller teams that can’t match up against them. Maryland doesn’t have a Donovan Clingan, but Scott and Reese are better post defenders than any non-UConn team has shown against Indiana this season.

Watch out for Jordan Geronimo in his triumphant return to Assembly Hall.

#1 Purdue Boilermakers (7-0) at #48 Northwestern Wildcats (5-1) (+6.5), 8 pm, BTN

Purdue v Northwestern
Hopefully tonight isn’t another court rush
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

MaximumSam: All hail November Purdue, Conqueror of Dreams. This season they are 3rd in three point percentage, 6th in defending the three, 1st in adjusted offense, and 3rd in adjusted defense. They haven’t shown many flaws - their free throw shooting has been poor, and their turnover and offensive rebounding have been middling. It ain’t much. That’s how you run off wins against Xavier, Gonzaga, Tennessee, and Marquette.

Northwestern hasn’t been all-conquering, but does have a nice win over Dayton, even if they got bopped by Mississippi State. Boo Buie has been good, steady even. Brooks Barnhizer and Ryan Langborg have some room to grow - they are both shooting below 30% from three. Matt Nicholson has also been very solid at center, and hey, look who he gets to guard tonight. They did beat Purdue last year with Buie going off for 26 and holding down everyone not named Edey. That’s probably the strategy again, though a tougher one to pull off. Torvik goes Purdue, 71-65.

BoilerUp89: The Kings of November move into the month of December and will try to avoid the example of Terrapins football. Last season Northwestern beat #1 Purdue at home to secure their NCAA tournament bid. This season, the game comes much earlier in the year and Northwestern has still be in the process of putting things together.

Buie, Barnhizer, and Langborg will need to have good games to pull off the repeat but it’s not impossible. Nicholson is one of the better defensive centers in the Big Ten and the physical play of Northwestern’s defense will give them a chance to disrupt what Purdue wants to do on offense. This would be a major boon in the tournament resume for Northwestern.

From the Purdue side, look for Braden Smith and Lance Jones to push the issue in transition whenever they see an opening. One of the things that makes Purdue more dangerous this season is that they are running when they have opportunities and not just walking up the court to settle into their highly efficient half court offense. That may be counter intuitive (the half court offense is really good), but it helps steal some easy buckets especially against teams that pressure the ball and deny easy post entry passes.

This will also be the first road game for Purdue this season—although Chicago isn’t exactly devoid of Purdue fans—and Northwestern is one of those schools that doesn’t use the Nike basketball. As Purdue fans know well, the team has struggled in recent years with different basketball brands.

One other thing I’ll mention just to rile up Northwestern fans: the Wildcats are wearing their Black Gothic uniforms with gold trim and asking fans to participate in a black out. Despite black uniforms typically being the road option in basketball, Purdue has not worn them at Northwestern since 2016. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I can’t help but think this is just a way to swallow up the Purdue fans in the crowd wearing black.

MNW: “Purdue doesn’t do well with non-Nike basketballs” might be the best pre-excuse I’ve seen in some time.

Northwestern and Northwestern fans seem to be poking the bear train a little bit after last year, a decision that I’m sure won’t end badly for the ‘Cats. The blackout is what it is—the Gothics and the Chicago-brand unis get brokenout for special occasions, and I wouldn’t read too much more into it than that at the risk of sound like an Iowa fan miffed with Iowa State has the audacity to wear black. Third colors are a thing, guys.

To the court! Defending Zach Edey obviously is what it is, but more concerning for me is what the ‘Cats have put out on offense. Northwestern isn’t getting to the line, isn’t shooting threes well, and is allowing opponents to hit 38% from deep, bottom 20 in the country. That means it’s got to be a great night from probably all three of Buie, Barnhizer, and one of Berry or Langborg, and I just don’t see that happening.

The roster gets awful thin awful fast, particularly in the frontcourt, where I expect Luke Hunger to be the Mike Turner Memorial Foul Sponge tonight—there’s just no productive depth after Nicholson to deal with Edey. Running the court would be an effective way to get the ‘Cats out of their rhythm, but I haven’t liked enough of what I’ve seen this season to think it’ll ever come to that—Purdue should win this straight-up. If you can get overs on Purdue total and offensive rebounding lines tonight...take them.

Poll

Who wins tonight?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    In 49 states, it’s just basketball: Hoosiers and Boilermakers
    (11 votes)
  • 16%
    Home teams: Hoosiers and Wildcats
    (4 votes)
  • 37%
    Road warriors: Terps and Boilers
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    Underdogs: Terps and Wildcats
    (0 votes)
24 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Thoughts on Northwestern wearing black and gold uniforms and having a black out against Purdue?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    Again? I thought they were purple
    (9 votes)
  • 34%
    Northwestern’s gothic blacks predate Purdue’s adoption of old gold and black so it’s fine
    (16 votes)
  • 10%
    Kind of funny
    (5 votes)
  • 34%
    This is like Indiana football taking their stadium crowd photos against Ohio State
    (16 votes)
46 votes total Vote Now