Story of the Day
Coming into Saturday the B1G as a whole had been struggling. Michigan, Rutgers and others had been upset by lower conference teams and chances to notch signature wins against teams like Iowa State, Arizona, Villanova and Louisville came and went without B1G wins. Non-conference play in recent years had been a place for the B1G to flex its muscle and prove just how strong the conference was, but this season has been different. Saturday provided a chance to make up for the last few weeks and notch some key victories against high quality opponents on neutral courts. Unfortunately, we just saw more of the same and perhaps the largest upset of the year.
Game of the Day: #24 Michigan State vs Texas Southern
The Texas Southern Tigers came into this game at 1-8 with a victory over Lamar, a 40 point loss to Gonzaga in their last game, and a former B1G head coach who had never won in the Breslin Center. Michigan State came in without Branden Dawson due to an injured wrist suffered in their last game, but still favored by more than 20. By the end of the game, the Tigers and coach Mike Davis had secured one of the biggest wins in school history and the Spartans had given Tom Izzo one of his worst losses ever.
The Spartans committed the cardinal sin of giving up an upset because they let Texas Southern hang around. MSU led the entire first half and it wasn't until 1:26 left in the second that the Tigers took their first lead after a late rally. The Spartans had plenty of chances to put this game away but instead they went to overtime and that is where Texas Southern took control, winning 71-64 and never trailing in the extra period. The Tigers got 20 points and 7 boards from junior Malcom Riley off the bench and 22 points from starter Chris Thomas. Michigan State won the rebounding battle by 12, thanks in part to Matt Costello grabbing 10 to go along with his 17 points, but the Tigers shot 53.2% from the field compared to 39.3% from the Spartans. Michigan State takes on The Citadel Monday in their final non-conference game.
Indiana vs #23 Butler
IU had one of their best games of the season, and scored a quality win, 82-73 thanks to a huge game from Troy Williams. The sophomore filled up the stat sheet with 22 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. His 12-point effort in the first half helped make it a tie game despite James Blackmon going 1-8 and Yogi Ferrell sitting scoreless on the bench with two fouls. The second half became the Troy and Yogi show for the Hoosiers as Ferrell scored 20 points, including his 1000th career point, and Williams added 10 more. For the Butler Bulldogs, Kellen Dunham led the way with 23 points, while Kameron Woods added a double-double. Indiana actually won on the boards in this game, thanks to Williams and a solid effort from Hanner Mosquera-Perea, who had one of his most complete games of his career with 8 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks. The Hoosiers take on New Orleans on Monday, before a tough test against Georgetown next Saturday.
Purdue vs #21 Notre Dame
It was close, and then it was a blowout. Purdue was within 4 with 15 minutes left, then three quick dunks and a three-pointer blew the lid off for Notre Dame. The Boilers seemed to lose their nerve and drop their heads as they reverted back to the tentative and hustle-less team fans have seen way too much of over the last couple of years and Notre Dame walked away with a 94-63 victory. Six Irish players scored in double figures, led by Demetrius Jackson with 22 and Pat Connaughton with 19 and 14 boards. Purdue got 11 points from Jon Octeus, A.J. Hammons and Bryson Scott, but no one on the team had good game. Matt Painter's team only has til Monday to get it figured out before they play Gardner-Webb.
Illinois vs Missouri
The Braggin' Rights trophy is staying in Champaign, thanks to Rayvonte Rice. Rice hit a three a the clock expired to give Illinois a 62-59 victory over rival Missouri in St. Louis. It was Rice's game-high 19th point of the day, to go along with 7 rebounds, in what was the second biggest victory for the conference on the day. Mizzou was led by Jonathan Williams III who scored 15 points and grabbed 8 boards for the Tigers, who were decided underdogs coming in. The Illini play Kennesaw State next Saturday, before starting conference play.
Iowa vs Northern Iowa
The Hawkeyes have now lost two straight to in-state opponents, and the Northern Iowa Panthers have proven once again that they are a legit at-large team if they don't earn the Missouri Valley auto-bid. Played in Des Moines, this game was part of the Big Four Classic, the other game being Iowa State-Drake. Iowa led at the half, but went extremely cold in the second period going 3-24 from the field. The only Hawkeye in double figures was Mike Gesell with 10. Iowa plays North Florida, who already has a B1G scalp (Purdue), on Monday.
Michigan vs SMU
The Michigan Wolverines have now lost four games straight, including three at home. Michigan took a 48-45 lead with eight to go, but would only score three more points against the SMU Mustangs the rest of the way as they lost 62-51. Zak Irvin scored 17 but his team struggled shooting and rebounding the ball again, negating any advantage gained from SMU's 20 turnovers. Michigan gets to play 1-9 Coppin State on Monday in their last chance to score a victory before B1G play.
#12 Ohio State vs #24 North Carolina
The Buckeyes got to take on North Carolina in the first ever CBS Sports Classic. OSU had an uncharacteristically poor shooting day and were down by double digits most of the game - perhaps because of the four giant school logos that took up most of the court, but probably not. Marc Loving scored 19 for the Buckeyes and Sam Thompson had 17, but it wasn't enough. OSU plays Miami (OH) at home on Monday.
Penn State vs Drexel
The Penn State Nittany Lions again played a close game against an opponent who was supposed to be inferior, but again they managed to hold on. 11-1 is impressive no matter how you get there and D.J. Newbill and company appear to have the mental edge needed to win close games, which will be a boon in B1G play. Newbill had 20 against the Dragons and teammate Brandon Taylor gathered 11 boards and dropped 14 points. PSU takes on Dartmouth this Monday.
Northwestern vs Western Michigan
Northwestern almost dropped second game to a directional Michigan, but pulled it together in the second half to keep the Broncos at bay. Tre Demps scored 17 and big man Alex Olah grabbed 12 rebounds. The Wildcats take on crosstown foes Illinois-Chicago Monday and Northern Kentucky next Saturday before their conference opener against Rutgers.
Rutgers vs St. Francis
Rutgers lost to another small school named after a saint, despite leading by 16 in the first half. Kadeem Jack had 20 points and 12 rebounds, but Rutgers continues to look like a team that might go winless in B1G play. The Scarlet Knights have two more games before the gauntlet starts though, at home against Sacred Heart on Tuesday and an away game against Monmouth next Sunday.