Following the disaster that was the Gavitt Games for the Big Ten, the conference needed some big wins to put those games in the rear view mirror. While Maryland kept their game closer than it needed to be, the conference successfully ate their cupcakes without getting sick this weekend.
That left the two preseason tournaments that Purdue and Michigan were competing in to get the big conference defining wins. Purdue held up their end of the bargain and brought the Big Ten’s record against the Big East to 3-6 on the season on their way to a tournament victory and likely top 5 ranking in the AP poll on Monday.
Unfortunately, Michigan had a harder time of things and didn’t measure up to their expectations in Las Vegas against Arizona.
Cheez-It Hall of Fame Tip-Off
Billed as one of the top non-conference tournaments of the season, the Hall of Fame Tip-Off lived up to its billing with 4 top 25 teams and a March like atmosphere in the arena. Purdue takes home some hardware and showed that they are a very dangerous team capable of achieving great things this season.
#6 Purdue Boilermakers 93, #18 North Carolina Tar Heels 84
Purdue’s offense continued their hot start to the season by clearing 90 points for the 4th game in a row (a Purdue record by the way). The hot shooting of Sasha Stefanovic early (14 of Purdue’s first 22 points) helped the Boilers build an early lead. But 2 fouls for Zach Edey and Trevion Williams in the first 12 minutes of play meant that Caleb Furst was forced into playing emergency center minutes for the final 8 of the first half. Backup PF Mason Gillis was still suspended for this game so Ethan Morton had to play the 4 spot. During that stretch Purdue held UNC to a 17-17 draw despite some rebounding issues that occurred as a result of not having two of the best rebounders in the country available. Furst and Morton deserve a lot of credit for Purdue maintaining their 6 point lead into halftime.
The second half saw North Carolina slowly chip away at Purdue’s lead until they finally got their first lead of the game with 9:21 to play at 65-64. Less than 20 seconds later, Purdue would tie it up when Zach Edey made 1 of 2 free throws.
Enter Jaden Ivey. Following a UNC missed three pointer, Ivey corralled the rebound and brought the ball up the floor quickly. As the Tarheels were still getting set on defense, Ivey drove the left side of the lane, bringing three UNC defenders crashing down on his position. Instead of forcing up a contested shot at the rim as has been his decision in the past, Ivey fired a pass to a wide open Stefanovic at the top of the key who drained the 3. Next possession, UNC missed another three and Ivey grabbed the rebound again and started sprinting down the court with the ball. He got to the free throw line drawing the defense before passing it to a wide open Thompson who buried another 3. The following possession, Edey got the defensive rebound and the Boilers went sprinting into transition once again. Ivey’s got the ball on the right wing, drove to the rim, Euro-stepped across the front of the basket before finishing the layup and drawing the foul. With 8:56 to play UNC had the ball and it was a tied game. With 7:54 to play, Purdue was up 9 thanks to three good plays and decisions by Jaden Ivey.
North Carolina would make another run to close it to 2 points before Purdue salted away the win by dumping the ball inside to Trevion Williams on the low block and letting him go to work. The Boilermakers shot a blistering 55.7% from the field and 43.5% from 3. The Tarheels aren’t the best defensive team Purdue is going to see this season, but 93 points is still really impressive against a top 25 team.
Stefanovic, Ivey, and Williams (in only 13 minutes) all cleared 20 points with 23, 22, and 20 respectively. Ivey also had 10 rebounds and 6 assists. The Boilermakers had just 9 turnovers. Defensively, the Boilermakers played okay but not great. The Tarheels presented some matchup issues to Williams and Edey on that end of the floor as Dawson Garcia (26 points) was able to pull up for jumpers away from the rim. R.J. Davis and Caleb Love both had 18 points for the Tarheels as well and North Carolina shot 41.4% from 3.
#6 Purdue Boilermakers 80, #5 Villanova Wildcats 74
I’ll be honest, for the first 30ish minutes of this game the W/ildcats were the better team. Most of the first half was both teams feeling each other out, but early in the second half Villanova built up a lead into the high single digits and then the low double digits. Villanova found a way to attack Zach Edey on defense and exploit Purdue’s help defense for wide open looks from three. The Wildcats repeatedly attacked this flaw in the Purdue defense and were making their three pointers at a mid 40s % clip.
In the last ten minutes though, Purdue’s offense flipped the switch. They would make 11 consecutive shots from the field. After trading buckets for a couple of minutes, Purdue was still down 9 with 7:23 to play. But then Villanova started missing shots from 3 and the FT line due to a combination of better Purdue defensive switching and tired Villanova legs. Purdue would go on an 18-2 run over the next 5+ minutes of the game. Purdue’s depth and the lack of it for Villanova - who played only 7 guys and who were playing their second game in two days - helped Purdue to make this comeback.
All five Boilermaker starters were in double digits with Zach Edey leading the way with 21 points. Ivey once again showed great decision making as he dished out 7 assists to go along with his 10 points and 7 rebounds. Thompson had 12 points on just 4-5 shooting from behind the arc. And Caleb Furst was perfect shooting in this one with his 5-5 effort from the field.
Purdue outrebounded Villanova 38 to 26 but the Wildcats 4 turnovers - 0 in the first half - and hot shooting helped them build their lead. Neither team attempted a free throw in the first half. Villanova, a very good FT shooting team on the year, went just 9-17 from the charity stripe in this one and missed all 6 of their 3 point attempts between the 9:04 and 23 seconds marks. Four of Villanova’s starters played 36+ minutes. In contrast, only 2 of Purdue’s played more than 24 minutes and they were both limited to just 33 minutes. Purdue’s depth and ability to create offense in many different ways was the difference in this one.
Roman Main Event in Las Vegas
#4 Michigan Wolverines 74, UNLV Rebels 61
In the late hours of the night, the Wolverines used their superior size and strength to score and their length advantage to limit the Rebels own opportunities and win the rebounding battle 33-24. Eli Brooks was very good and scored 22 points. Hunter Dickinson and Moussa Diabate would each add double digit points and 7 rebounds. Michigan had 5 blocks to prevent the Rebels from finishing around the rim.
Arizona Wildcats 80, #4 Michigan Wolverines 62
Michigan wasn’t able to get it going in this one and Arizona just dominated them as the Wolverines defense flopped. Even worse was that the Wolverines shot a dismal 1 of 14 from deep. Although Arizona didn’t do very well from behind the arc themselves (4 of 21), the Wildcats shot 50% overall from the field and was able to get out and run in transition.
The Wolverines will have to regroup and try to diagnose their issues so far this season. Hopefully Juwan Howard can figure out the prescription that works for them and they find a way to perform better.
MNW: It was a DAMN impressive dismantling by Arizona. The Wildcats do a few things most Big Ten teams can't, namely the size and shot-blocking of Christian Koloko and a lineup that at one point went 7'1", 7'0", 6'7", 6'7", 6'4" -- Hunter Dickinson and Moussa Diabate struggled to contend with that size, while UA's defense rendered Caleb Houstan mostly useless.
But, like Boiler Choo Choo Man says, Michigan has some questions to answer. Perhaps the size and wrestleball of the Big Ten will be a welcome respite, but even that just delays these questions until March.
#20 Maryland Terrapins 69, Hofstra Pride 67
This was a back and forth affair between the Pride and Terrapins all game long. The largest lead for either team was 7. Hofstra led by 2 with the ball under a minute to go. But they weren’t able to score on that possession, the Terrapins tied it up on theirs, and then on the Pride’s attempt to win the game with 4 seconds to go they ended up committing a foul following a block by Eric Ayala. The Terrapins made their free throws and escaped with the win.
Nebraska Cornhuskers 78, Idaho State Bengals 60
Nebraska Cornhuskers 82, Southern Jaguars 59
Does the person in charge of scheduling the Nebraska basketball games enjoy large cats?
Minnesota Golden Gophers 78, Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons 49
In a bit of bad news for the Purdue University system’s basketball teams this weekend, the Gophers handed the Mastodons their first loss of the season. Sean Sutherlin went 7-7 off the bench and led the Gophers in scoring with 19 points.
I haven’t actually watched the Gophers this season but from scanning their box scores nothing really stands out to me. The Gophers aren’t really shooting great or significantly outrebounding teams or even getting more possessions than their opponents. But they are generally taking care of the ball (just 12 turnovers in this one) and moved to 4-0 on the season following this win. They’ve even moved inside the KenPom top 100.
Michigan State Spartans 83, Eastern Michigan
Eagles Emus 59
First off, I will always refer to Eastern Michigan University as the Emus. Any attempt to refer to them as the Eagles is wrong.
After about 8 minutes in this one, Michigan State woke up and realized they were the better team. They would slowly but surely build up a lead from that point onward. This game was a 24 point victory despite the Emus shooting 8-17 from behind the arc while the Spartans managed just a 4-17 performance from deep.
Indiana Hoosiers 76, Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns 44
Do you know the last person to win their first four games in their coaching career at Indiana before Mike Woodson? That’s right, it’s Bobby Knight. Which means the Hoosiers are back! National Title #6 incoming!
The Hoosiers went 10-19 from deep in this one and held the Ragin’ Cajuns to just 19.2% shooting from the field and only 10% from 3. I’m pretty sure that’s good defense.
Who had the best weekend in Big Ten hoops?
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Who had the worst weekend?
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Northwestern didn't win a SINGLE GAME this weekend; fire Chris Collins
Previews of the Monday Feast Week action coming up a little later today. Wisconsin in not-Maui! Stay tuned.