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Off Tackle Open Threads: January 10th Basketball

Break Up Nebraska

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Arizona
Learning ball, not just jealous
Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports

Recaps

Rutgers Scarlet Knights 66, Indiana Hoosiers 57

BoilerUp89: This was a game until Xavier Johnson was ejected for grabbing his opponent’s nuts. You can’t do that. Rutgers went on a run after that to get their first win of Big Ten play. Indiana had 18 turnovers and shot 26.9% from three. Rutgers was even worse at shooting the ball, but got to the charity stripe 28 times and walked away from their with 19 free points. Austin Williams provided Rutgers with some excellent energy.

Nebraska Cornhuskers 88, Purdue Boilermakers 72

BoilerUp89: This is life on road as the #1 ranked team. You get everyone’s best shot. And Nebraska’s best shot is pretty damn good. Hats off to their players and Fred Hoiberg. Nebrasketball’s defensive intensity was fantastic and their double (and sometimes triple teaming of Edey) caused Purdue’s offense major issues in the first half. The crowd was fantastic and Nebraska shot a blistering 60% from behind the arc. Sometimes you run into a freight train. Keisei Tominaga and Reink Mast were fantastic with 19 and 18 points respectively.

5 of Purdue’s last 7 losses have resulted in court storms. One of the others was against Fairleigh Dickinson. Moving forward Purdue has to do a better job avoiding turnovers and tighten up their defensive switches which got blown up late in the first half.

(The Tominaga beacon appears) Jesse: Is... is that Jesse coming out of the rafters to talk about Nebrasketball? HELL YES IT IS!

My goodness... I don’t even know where to start. Look, Nebraska isn’t bad this year. That’s probably the BEST place to start. They have good defensive intensity, are coached well, and seem to be playing about as cohesive a style as I’ve seen in literally all of my life. With shooters everywhere, it is feasible that they were going to at least stay in tonight’s game.

And yet - AND YET - I promise that even in my wildest dreams, I didn’t think we’d do it, and do it by leading for pretty much the entire game. Reink Mast is a damn warrior who did his part against Edey, and Hoiberg’s, “we’re just gonna send literally everyone at Edey” defense was so disruptive. Every player on the court played their part, and KEISEI TOMINAGA did it with his usual style and swagger. Oh, and HUGE shout-out to Brice Williams who chipped in 9 points, 11 boards, 11 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. What an all-around effort by him and everyone else. I could go line by line but I need to talk about one more thing...

The fans.

The crowd at PBA was legit all night, and I am genuinely overwhelmed by not being there. I don’t miss cold snowy nights in Nebraska all that often, but as the seconds ticked off and the fans rushed the court, I found myself missing home. What an awesome night for Nebrasketball. Who knows what tomorrow brings, but that was magic. Can’t take that away from these guys. Every fan should stay until the lights get turned out. Just wonderful stuff.

BRT: That’s right, you get both of us. Nebrasketball hasn’t beaten a #1 team in my lifetime (and I don’t think in Jesse’s either), the last time being in 1982. If that pace continues, the next time it happens, I’ll be 81, so to say last night was pretty amazing is an understatement.

To beat a #1 team as a... not #1 team, shall we say, requires a few things, and Nebraska had them all last night. A plan. Mental toughness. Execution. And just plain luck. Nebraska did tons of things right, but it was also great that Purdue had a poor night shooting and Nebraska had an insane night shooting. Sometimes, timing really is everything.

One of the things I liked most about last night were how many guys mattered. Reink Mast gets my early game MVP, because he was absolutely unafraid early on and just punched Purdue repeatedly in the mouth (even though he was the one who ended up bleeding—the guy played with tissue up his nose for most of the game after his nose came face to face with a Purdue player’s jaw). I think that his success and confidence was key for the rest of the team, and I think it disconcerted Purdue. Then, of course, there was Tominaga, who flipped seemingly effortless threes through the hoop after barely touching the ball and with hands in his face. CJ Wilcher also had himself a night- he played less than 50% of the game’s total minutes, but I think he only missed one shot that he took. Sam Hoiberg had two gutsy steals and fast breaks that effectively took the wind out of Purdue’s sails during their comeback bids. You can say good things about every guy who played for Nebraska last night, and that’s awesome.

I’ll also second Jesse on the crowd. We had a major winter storm here on Monday, and schools were closed in Lincoln Monday and Tuesday. Snow removal in Lincoln is... shall we say, not a point of civic pride, and driving around Lincoln in that weather is a fair bit of dedication. The crowd showed up, wanted it so badly, and were richly rewarded. Pretty good for a volleyball state.

Previews

#54 Northwestern Wildcats (11-3, 2-1) at #110 Penn State Nittany Lions (8-7, 2-2) (-1.5), 5:30 pm, BTN

BoilerUp89: Northwestern finds themselves at 2-1 after facing Purdue, Illinois, and Michigan State. That’s pretty good, but now they go on the road and face a pesky Nittany Lions squad that has two conference wins of their own.

Two things to watch: 1) Northwestern’s turnovers. The Wildcats have gotten big home wins against Michigan State and Purdue by taking care of the ball at an elite level, but Penn State’s defense generates a ton of turnovers from their opposition. 2) Who wins the rebounding battle? Neither team is very good on the boards. Whoever can steal some extra possessions will have an advantage.

MNW: Penn State has won five straight and seven of the last eight against Northwestern. So I’m not holding my breath on this one, especially at an early tip in the Big Blue Mausoleum.

#16 Wisconsin Badgers (11-3, 3-0) at #25 Ohio State Buckeyes (12-3, 2-2) (-1.5), 7:30 pm, BTN

BoilerUp89: Wisconsin now has a two game lead in the loss column over preseason league favorite Purdue. They have to go on the road against a Buckeyes team that has been dangerous when their guards get going. I think Wisconsin has an advantage inside and their ability to secure defensive rebounds will hurt a Buckeyes offense that relies on a lot of second chance opportunities, but life on the road can be difficult. B1G teams are now 6-22 on the road (21.4%) in conference play this season.

MaximumSam: Please baby Jesus, let the backcourt learn how to shoot again. After some extremely bad shooting against Indiana, the Buckeye guards hope to turn it around tonight. Wiscy has become a really tough matchup, mostly because of balance. They put out a lot of good players and threaten you at every level. Steven Crowl had led them in rebounds and three point percentage, so this is peak Wisconsin. Torvik goes Buckeyes, 72-70.

Other Games to Watch Tonight, Says MNW

  • Fort Wayne at Youngstown State (-3.5, O/U 154.5): it’s a congested top of the Horizon table this year—everyone is 4-1, 4-2, or 3-2 save for Bobby Morris (1-4), IUPUI (1-5), and Detroit Mercy (0-6, 0-17 overall). The Mastodons and Penguins offer the second-most exciting combo of the bunch (PFW/Wright State is first), as both push the pace and are average-plus offenses. [5:30pm, ESPN+]
  • UNC Asheville at High Point (-6.5, O/U 152.5): Two of the four best in the Big South (with Winthrop and Longwood). Drew Pember of the Bulldogs is a talent you need to see. [6pm, ESPN+]
  • Chicago State at Fairleigh Dickinson (-1.5, O/U 147.5): Pay no mind to BoilerUp telling you the Cougars are already eliminated from the NCAA Tournament—this one will be a fun test of the Cougars’ discipline, as the Chess Pieces get out and push. Plus, this is your reminder to download NEC Front Row/On the Run and watch really bad Northeast Conference hoop. [6pm, NECFR]
  • Stetson at Kennesaw (-4.5, O/U 160.5): the ASUN is Lipscomb’s to lose, but Kennesaw is the fastest team in college hoops under former Alabama assistant Antoine Pettway. The Owls pull the board, push the floor, and shoot quick, evidenced in a 100-87 loss at Indiana on the 29th. [6pm, ESPN+]
  • Penn State at #14 Indiana: It’s really dumb that decent B1G women’s hoops games are behind a paywall. Like this one. At least move them all to Peacock—picking between BTN+ and Peacock is annoying (even though it’s absolutely the point). [6pm, BTN+]
  • #7 North Carolina (-3.5, O/U 154.5) at NC State: Yeah, sure, probably worth an eye if you’ve got one. [7pm, ESPN]
  • Indiana State at Drake (-1.5, O/U 157.5): Game of the night, in my opinion. Sycamores are 4-0 in the MVC, have only lost to Alabama and Michigan State (embarrassing, Sparty’s trash), and probably could be a bubble team, while the Bulldogs have some weaknesses but are the reigning MVC champs. [7pm, ESPN+]
  • #3 Iowa at Purdue: Caitlin Clark, etc. [7pm, Peacock]
  • Washington State at USC (-6.5, O/U 146.5): Remember—late-night college basketball has feelings, too. [9:30pm, FS1]
  • Colorado (-3.5, O/U 149.5) at California: And for those of you pooh-poohing an elite team traveling to an overwhelmed Bay Area foe, I’ll direct you to last night’s San Diego State-San Jose State game, which was an absolute banger of shot-making and what-the-hell offense. Heartbreak for Tim Miles’s club, who deserved better in the end. [10pm, ESPNU—sadly, no Walton]