On Friday, the Big Ten had a very interesting day of non-conference action. In total, eight Big Ten teams played with two games against Big East teams, four games as part of non-conference tournaments, and one on the road in an interesting in-state battle.
Let's take a look at the action.
Game of the Night: UT-Arlington 73, Ohio State Buckeyes 68
The Buckeyes had what appeared to be the team's third gimme game in a row on Friday night at home against UT-Arlington. Ohio State was a significant favorite and UT-Arlington came in at just No. 182 nationally in KenPom ranking. In fact, for most, this probably wasn't even a game that showed up on the radar.
However, that thought changed quickly in the first half. UT-Arlington had no problem hanging with the Buckeyes and only trailed by two at halftime. Kevin Hervey and Erick Neal were both getting solid looks all game and the Buckeyes didn't get a ton of bench production. All told, UT-Arlington pulled off the upset of the day by a final score of 73-68.
For the Buckeyes, it was a crushing upset and very likely the team's worse loss since Thad Matta took over the program before the 2004-05 season. The defense looked pretty underwhelming, the team got outrebounded, and there wasn't much offensive production outside of a handful of players. In fact, Keita Bates-Diop had 16 points, JaQuan Lyle had 15 points, and Marc Loving had 12 points, but no other player got to double-digits.
Nobody is quite sure where Ohio State will fit into the NCAA Tournament picture at season's end, but this is certainly a big blow to all of those hopes. The Buckeyes needed every win the team could get and to drop a game like this already puts the Buckeyes back just three games into the season. There's still plenty of hope for improvement, but the team will not be playing from behind for at least the start of the season.
- Maryland Terrapins 65, Rider 58
The Terps had a scary one on Friday night. For a team projected to be this year's Big Ten preseason favorite, the start to the season has been pretty slow and after a decent, but not great win over Georgetown, many were looking for Maryland to turn the page against Rider. Unfortunately, the shooting was once again underwhelming with just 22.7 percent from three and only 63.6 percent from the free throw line. Notably Diamond Stone did have an improved performance with 12 points and five rebounds in 19 minutes.
- Xavier 86, Michigan Wolverines 70
The Wolverines had a huge game on Friday night and the team's first opportunity to prove that last season was a fluke for the program. Unfortunately, Michigan came out slow and could never recover. Caris LeVert was fantastic with 29 points, seven rebounds, and three assists, but there just wasn't enough on the defensive end and enough in the frontcourt to keep Michigan close in the second half.
- Michigan State Spartans 92, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 46
The Spartans were probably the only Big Ten team that looked great on Friday. The bench got plenty of action in this game and it was never really competitive. Star Denzel Valentine finished with seven points, seven rebounds, and 11 assists on the night. Other notable performances came from Javon Bess who had 16 points, Matt Costello who had 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Bryn Forbes who had 14 points and a 139 offensive rating. At this point, Michigan State probably looks like the most impressive team in the conference.
- Minnesota Golden Gophers 74, Missouri State 69
The Gophers were trying to rebound from a tough loss to Temple on Thursday and faced an underwhelming Missouri State team on Friday. Unfortunately, the game was tougher than Gopher fans hoped. Missouri State outrebounded Minnesota, got better bench production, and got a lot more production from the free throw line. The good news is that is that largely thanks to Joey King's 18 points and Carlos Morris' 12 points, Minnesota held on for the win.
- Northwestern Wildcats 83, Columbia 80 (OT)
The Wildcats had the team's toughest game of the season on Friday night at home against Columbia and had mixed results in the game.Columbia led for large portions and it took Bryant McIntosh putting up 32 points, six assists, and three rebounds to pull out the win. Columbia isn't a terrible team, but it's not great either. If Northwestern is going to be in the NCAA Tournament discussion, it will have to play better than it did on Friday. This improved play will have to come primarily on the defensive end, as the Wildcats gave up 1.18 points per possession.
- Duquesne 78, Penn State Nittany Lions 52
The Nittany Lions were not expected to be a national or Big Ten contender, but many had high hopes for the team and thought that with the right wins, it could get into the NIT picture. Friday's game against a decent Duquesne team would be a big part of that. Unfortunately, the Nittany Lions fell flat. During the game, Payton Banks, Shep Garner, and Brandon Taylor scored double-digits, but nobody else scored more than four points. There just wasn't enough production to come anywhere close to hanging with Duquesne and Derrick Colter, who had 26 points.
- Georgetown 71, Wisconsin Badgers 61
The Badgers have had a pretty rough start to the season and after another underwhelming showing on Friday night, have now slipped to 2-2 on the season. Wisconsin actually probably played better than it did in the season opening loss to Western Illinois, but not well enough to beat a solid Georgetown team. In fact, Ethan Happ actually finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds, but with only six players scoring and receiving any serious minutes, the bench production is going to be a major issue all season.