Wednesday night saw two of the top Big Ten teams host exhibition games as the season is just over a week away. Both teams playing last night (Michigan State, Wisconsin) were able to cruise to easy victories, looking impressive in pretty much all areas on the court.
Michigan State 94 Northern Michigan 53
Michigan State opened up their season with an easy victory over Division II opponent Northern Michigan, winning last night by 41 points. Leading the way for the Spartans was senior Bryn Forbes, who scored 23 points, while senior leader Denzel Valentine added a triple-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. It did take awhile for Sparty to get the ball rolling, though, as they took an unimpressive 38-33 lead into the half before outscoring Northern Michigan by 36 points in the second half.
The Spartans took advantage of a strong shooting performance in the second half with the team hitting 57.6% of their field goals, including 53.3% from three on 15 attempts. State's 11 of 28 three point performance was widely the result of Bryn Forbes, who hit 7 of 10 threes, with the rest of the team only converting on 4 of 18 shots from beyond the arc. Michigan State managed to distribute the ball efficiently throughout the night, recording 28 assists on their 33 field goals. Another few positives from the night were out rebounding Northern Michigan by 23, hitting on 73.9% of their free throws and keeping turnovers somewhat limited with 11 on the night.
Next up for the Spartans will be Ferris State on the 9th.
Wisconsin 101 UW-River Falls 46
While the Badgers had some bad news earlier in the day, with freshman Andy Van Vliet currently being ineligible until the NCAA makes a decision on his eligibility, they had a much better night after beating UW-River Falls by 55 points in their only exhibition game. The Badgers were on their game defensively, holding UW-River Falls to 20.8% shooting on the night and forcing 14 turnovers.
Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ led the Badgers in scoring, both of which adding 16 points last night. Wisconsin also saw four additional players reach double digits, with Alex Illikainen (12), Charlie Thomas (12), Bronson Koening (10) and Riley Dearring (10) all scoring at least ten points. The Badgers will need to find some new scoring options this season after losing over 60% of their scoring from last season. It was a big showing for forward Ethan Happ, who recorded a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. After the loss of Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, the Badgers will need players in the frontcourt and the 6'9" redshirt freshman could be key for Wisconsin.
Unlike Michigan State, last nights exhibition was the only one Wisconsin is playing this year. The next time the Badgers take the court will be on the 13th when they host Western Illinois on BTN.