Storyline of the Day
Conference play started on Tuesday this week, and every team had played once going into Saturday. The day's games included two matchups of teams looking for their first victory, one featuring two teams trying to achieve a 2-0 start and erase the memories of their non-conference losses and Maryland's first ever B1G home game. After Saturday's games we are starting to see the conference landscape really begin to take shape.
Game of the Day: Penn State at Rutgers
The Scarlet Knights were able to successfully defend the RAC and come away with their first B1G conference win against the Nittany Lions. RU had many people questioning if they could even achieve such a milestone after dropping home games to St. Francis and St. Peters in non-conference play, but the Scarlet Knights showed improvements recently and were able to hold off a Penn State team that was hungover after a loss to a championship-caliber Wisconsin team. This win is definitely historic, but could it mean that this Rutgers team actually has the heart and the talent to stay out of the B1G basement? We shall see in the coming months.
Rutgers led the whole way against PSU, including being up 30-19 at half, but Penn State battled back and cut the lead to one in the final minute before RU sealed the victory from the line. D.J. Newbill had 14 points, 4 assists and 3 steals, all game-highs, but it wasn't enough as poor shooting (28.8%) doomed the Nittany Lions and they finished with their lowest point total on the season in the 50-46 loss. Kadeem Jack led the Scarlet Knights with a double-double of 12 points and 11 boards, while Myles Mack added 10 and 7. Rutgers travels to Nebraska on Thursday for their first B1G road game, while PSU welcomes the Wolverines to Happy Valley on Tuesday.
Michigan at Purdue
It could be argued that these two teams were the most disappointing squads in non-conference play, but both were able to bounce back and steal victories in their opening B1G games. The Michigan Wolverines looked like they were going to pull away late in the first half, but Purdue was able to keep it within eight at the half. Then the second half was a completely different ballgame as improved defense from Purdue and cold shooting had the Wolverines only able to produce 4 FGs. Purdue would take the win 64-51, thanks to big games from A.J. Hammons (15 pts & 12 reb) and Vince Edwards (16 & 6), and a 44-22 rebounding margin. Michigan was led by Spike Albrecht off the bench with 17 points, while no other Wolverine scored in double figures. Purdue next gets its toughest test of the season on Wednesday against Wisconsin, and the Wolverines get a chance to rebound (no pun intended) against Penn State.
Illinios at #20 Ohio State
The Ohio State Buckeyes recognized their championship-bound football team during the game, and like the OSU football team the basketball Buckeyes were able to ride a strong second half to an impressive victory. The Illini led for the majority of the first half and at the break, but a change in defensive styles from Thad Matta helped spark a dominant second half for the Buckeyes as they won 77-61. D' Angelo Russell continued his campaign for Freshman of the Year with 22 points, while Marc Loving contributed 13 to go along with 8 boards. Rayvonte Rice excelled for the Illini scoring 20 and adding 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Illinois gets to play their first conference home game on Wednesday against Maryland, while Ohio State travels to Minnesota on Tuesday.
Minnesota at #12 Maryland
The Maryland Terrapins got to play their first B1G home game against a Minnesota squad still reeling from a loss at Purdue. The Golden Gophers kept it close until late in the second half, but were slowed by a strong defensive effort from the Terps, who are proving that they belong in the B1G with a 70-58 win. Fantastic frosh Melo Trimble scored 20, while Damonte Dodd was great inside grabbing 12 rebounds and blocking 3 shots to go along with 9 points. Maurice Walker was a bright spot for Minnesota, he went for 20 and 10 and also added 3 blocks. Minnesota gets Ohio State at home on Tuesday and Maryland travels to Illinois.