The weekly check-in with Rutgers and Maryland took a turn for the depressing this past week as Rutgers went 0-2 and Maryland lost to Pitt last week. Neither team has looked tournament worthy all season, but Maryland has (had?) NIT aspirations and really could have used a better result in their home matchup against a ranked Pitt squad. Enough with the formalities, let's just dive right in to the grimy underworld of mediocre AAC and ACC basketball.
Facing a very defensively inclined SMU team to start off the week, Rutgers shot poorly to start the game, missing 15 of their first 16 shots, and ended up suffering a 70-56 defeat to the much improved Mustangs. Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack, the two leading scorers for Rutgers this season, combined to shoot a horrid 4-of-22 from the field and could (clearly) never find their rhythm against a stifling SMU defense. Mack ended up with 13 points and five assists while Jack chipped in eight points and four rebounds. JJ Moore was the leading scorer, dropping 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting, but that was nowhere near enough against an SMU team that is looking for it's first tourney bid in two decades. Mack was held in check again during Rutgers second game of the week against UConn, as the Knights fell 82-71 to the Huskies. Mack had a season low six points and didn't get to the free throw line once against the stingy UConn defense. Luckily Kadeem Jack and Jerome Seagears picked up the slack and scored 19 points each. Jack had 11 boards and four blocks, while Seagears distributed six assists. Unfortunately for Rutgers, Shabazz Napier woke up at halftime and proceeded to drop 20 of his 26 points after the break. Rutgers has a chance to pick up a win this week at a turrible Temple team and they have a home rematch against Houston to end the week.
The Terps took #20 Pitt right down to the wire, but ended up losing 83-79 at College Park last week. Lamar Patterson scored 28 points to go along with seven rebounds, seven assists, and four steals for Pitt in a dominating performance for the senior. Maryland was outmuscled down low and lost the rebound battle 37-28 (rebounding machine Charles Mitchell was held to zero, wait that can't be right, yup...zero rebounds) and couldn't stay out of foul trouble, giving up an astonishing 47 free throw attempts to Pitt. Dez Wells had 19 points and four steals and Jake Layman had 18 points and five rebounds to lead the Terps. This game was a much better showing for Maryland than the first time they played Pitt this season and lost by 1,000 (author's note: I may be remembering that score wrong). The Terps have a chance to regain some momentum this week with matchups against The U at home and a trip to Blacksburg to face Virginia Tech.
This has been your weekly reminder that the Big Ten will have 14 teams next year. Just try and wrap your head around that, man.