Illinois Fighting Illini 98, Florida Atlantic Owls 89
BoilerUp89: Big quality win for Illinois in what was an extremely entertaining offensive showcase. Terrence Shannon Jr. and Marcus Domask were both fantastic with each scoring 33 points. The duo went a combined 25 of 35 from the floor. It probably didn’t hurt that FAU star Vladislav Goldin spent much of the game in foul trouble and was limited to just 19 minutes before fouling out at the end of the game. Goldin made the most of his time by scoring 23 points.
BoilerUp89: We correctly identified that Crowl v. MSU’s centers matchup as one to watch, but I don’t think any of us were expecting Crowl to go 4 of 4 from three point range. The Badgers outrebounded the Spartans 36 to 22. For those of us used to watching Tom Izzo’s teams pummel their opponents into submission on the boards, that’s an eye opener. It was also a difference maker in this game as those extra possessions add up. Tyson Walker and AJ Storr both had 22 points to lead their respective teams, but Storr got his on 9 fewer field goal attempts.
Kind of...: Maybe MSU sucks, in which case this is still a conference road victory, and you never turn those down. Maybe MSU isn’t yet what they will become, in which case you are grateful for the good fortune of playing them in December. Maybe Wisconsin is actually good, in which case, just start holding your breath and not think of ways things can go wrong.
Either way, both teams were 23-51 from the floor and UW committed three more turnovers, so, to win by 13, they did an awful lot right. A.J. Storr isn’t an All-American, but what he brings to table adds a huge variable to the UW lineup. Add in Crowl’s development, the fact that Chucky Hepburn doesn’t have to hunt for shots so much on offense, and John Blackwell’s energy off the bench, and there’s enough that is different to conclude that the Badgers might be be a team transformed even though the brought almost everybody back from last year. They are truly playing with house money when they head to #1 Arizona Saturday.
MaximumSam: Do we need to talk about Sparty? Outside of Hoggard and Walker, no one else scored more than five points. Hall, Akins, and Sissoko combined for 6. Yech.
BoilerUp89: This was a really evenly matched game. The difference is that Indiana realized they are a poor three point shooting team and only took 9 (they made 3 which is respectable). Michigan took 17 threes and despite their usually decent shooting ability they only made 4. One additional made three or skipping a couple of long range shots for looks closer to the rim could have seen Michigan come out triumphant in this one.
#62 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (5-2) (+3.5) at #92 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-3), 5 pm, ACCN
MaximumSam: Rutgers sneaks off for a road game at Wake Forest, who are coming off a big win over Florida. A real contrast in styles, Wake is a pretty good shooting team that is a bit light on defense and rebounding. They have a quartet of guys who can score, plus they have transfer big man Efton Reid making his debut tonight after the NCAA spun the Wheel ‘O’ Eligibility enough times to let him play. Torvik goes Wake, 70-68.
BoilerUp89: Rutgers is one of the Big Ten schools with just 1 December Big Ten game, so they won’t get their first conference win until at least January. They have five more games in their non-conference, and Wake Forest is the median of those five which makes it a critical game for a program that is trying to build some momentum going into Big Ten play. However, the game against Wake Forest is only the second most important Rutgers basketball outcome of the day...
#131 Penn State Nittany Lions (4-4, 0-0) at #66 Maryland Terrapins (4-4, 0-1) (-7.5), 6 pm, BTN
MaximumSam: Both of these teams could use a win, though we get to see if Home Maryland is a thing this year. Neither team are great shooting deep but the three point rate Maryland yields is 3rd in the nation - man, last year’s Nit team would have feasted. This year’s not so much - Torvik goes Terps, 75-66.
BoilerUp89: Penn State has lost four in a row - the most recent to sub 300 Bucknell. Maryland hasn’t beaten a team in the top 200. Maryland is favored by the advanced analytics, but those systems don’t know that the Jahmir Young is injured and questionable to play. If he can’t go, this one gets a little more interesting.
#263 Miami Redhawks (4-3) at #28 Ohio State Buckeyes (7-1) (-23.5), 6 pm
MaximumSam: The Buckeyes sneak in a buy game while everyone else is playing someone of consequence. It’s been a long time since Wally Szczerbiak roamed the court. Torvik goes Buckeyes, 84-63.
BoilerUp89: Miami Ohio’s head coach Travis Steele isn’t a very good head coach. The one saving grace for this Redhawks team is that they can shoot the three ball decently. They will need a really good night to make up for the fact they turn it over too much and are outmatched on the boards.
#39 Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-1, 0-0) at #111 Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-3, 0-1) (+2.5), 8 pm, BTN
MaximumSam: Both of these teams are coming off of losses, but Nebraska styles itself a real team this year, so this is the type of game they need to win. Dawson Garcia was awesome against Ohio State, and if Minny can just stop turning the ball over, they have a decentish team. Nebraska got run through a meat grinder by Creighton, so Hoiberg will be looking for a big response from The Blade. Torvik goes Huskers, close, 74-72.
BoilerUp89: I know this is a road game, but this is one Nebrasketball has to have if they want to make a run at the bubble. The Cornhuskers are shooting too many threes for their percentages and if they aren’t careful they could shoot their way out of a win against Minnesota. As MaximumSam mentions, the Gophers need to stop shooting themselves in the foot with turnovers. Some rotations that make sense would also be a welcome sight, but I’m not holding my breath there.
What’s more terrifying?
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New Jersey basketball
The Demon Deacon
Is Penn State - Maryland a rivalry?
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Nebraska or Minnesota?
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Minnesota kills the dream before it begins