We don't get back to really intriguing non-conference action until Saturday, but last night we at least had four games to look at. That's more than we can say for Monday or Tuesday, which were devoid of Big Ten basketball. With two MAC teams and two MEAC teams on the slate, there seemed to be a decent chance for a Big Ten sweep, but as usual, Northwestern screwed everything up.
Game of the night: Eastern Michigan at Michigan State
Although Eastern Michigan just knocked off Michigan at little over a week ago, the Spartans would prove to be a stiffer challenge. Eastern used zone defense to frustrated Michigan State into 37-percent shooting, but the Eagles shot just 23 percent from the floor themselves in a 66-46 Michigan State win. Bryn Forbes led all scorers with 14 points, but the big story surrounds Branden Dawson. The senior forward was fouled while going for a dunk and landed hard on his wrist. He missed the rest of the game with what is said to be a sprain. We don't know yet how long Sparty will be without its leading rebounder. Michigan State's next two games are tune-ups against Texas Southern and The Citadel before Maryland comes to East Lansing on December 30 for the Big Ten opener.
Central Michigan at Northwestern
Even though Michigan State fended off Eastern Michigan, the Big Ten could not avoid a defeat at the hands of the MAC. It's not as though the Chippewas are a pushover, but you still expect even a struggling Big Ten team to defeat them at home. Instead, Central Michigan crushed Northwestern 80-67 behind the strength of 58-percent shooting. The Chips went 10-for-18 from three-point range, and the Wildcats were unable to keep pace with JerShon Cobb still resting his injuries. Central was led by Braylon Rayson, who scored 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting, while Alex Olah and Bryant McIntosh each had 12 points for Northwestern.
North Carolina A&T at Ohio State
Junior forward Bruce Beckford led all players with 26 points, but it wasn't nearly enough for North Carolina A&T in their quest to upset Ohio State. The Buckeyes got 21 points on 7-for-14 shooting from D'Angelo Russell en route to a 97-55 victory in their warm-up for Saturday's clash with North Carolina. Marc Loving and Kam Williams each had 15 points for Ohio State, which shot 57 percent from the field and forced the Aggies into 26 turnovers. Shannon Scott was key on that front with seven steals to go with his 12 assists and eight points.
Hampton at Illinois
With their annual date with Missouri ahead of them and two straight losses behind them, it was crucial for the Illini to get a win against Hampton on Wednesday night. That didn't turn out to be much of a problem, as Illinois rode four Kendrick Nunn three-pointers to a 73-55 win. Nunn led everyone with 16 points to help put away a Pirates team that kept itself in the game with 15 offensive rebounds. Rayvonte Rice added 12 points for Illinois, and Nnanna Egwu scored 10 to go with five blocks.