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Takeaways: Illinois, Michigan State, and Wisconsin Exhibitions

Miles Bridges stole the show.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Michigan State vs Middle Tennessee State Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin, Michigan State, and the University of Illinois have played their exhibition games. All three teams won the games they played in and there were positive takeaways from each game. Let’s take a look at what happened.

University of Illinois vs. Wash U

While the Illini won 82-75, they were winning by 29 points at one point during the game. They got off to a very slow start at the beginning of the game. They only made five of their first 22 shots. Illinois was cold from beyond the arc for the most part.

Here is what the beyond the arc shooting looked like:

Illinois Three-Point Shooting:

  • Michael Finke 1-3
  • Tracy Abrams 1-3
  • Jalen Coleman-Lands 1-6
  • Malcom Hill 0-3
  • Aaron Jordan 0-1
  • D.J. Williams 0-1

However, the Fighting Illini were very strong in the paint and at the charity stripe. Center Maverick Morgan went 8-10 in the paint. Head Coach John Groce elected to start three guards, one forward and one center. Aaron Jordan, Malcolm Hill, and Tracy Abrams started in the backcourt. Michael Finke was the true wing and Maverick Morgan was in the center.

Overall, the Illini shot 42.9% from the paint (11-33 in the first, 16-30 in the second), 17.6% from beyond the arc (3-13 in the first, 0-4 in the second) and 67.6 from the free throw line (15-20 in the first, 10-17 in the second).

After a slow start, the Illini were able to put a great game together. While they were a little rusty to start, it looks as though as the season begins, they will be a strong shooting team with strengths in the paint.

Wisconsin vs. UW Plateville

Greg Gard’s team is full of veteran players and the exhibition game showed exactly that. They cruised passed Plateville 86-58. While they kept it close at the end of the half, only leading by a score of 44-34, they scored 42 points in the second half to seal the victory. Starters Nigel Hayes (3-8, 1-2 from deep), and Vito Brown (2-7, 1-3 from deep), struggled to shoot the ball well. However, the other three starters and the bench stepped up to help lead the Badgers to victory. Bronson Koenig went 5-10 and 2-3 from beyond the arc. Zak Showalter went 1-2 from the paint and 1-2 from beyond the arc. Ethan Happ went 2-3 in the paint.

The Badgers also spread the minutes between the players evenly. Starters played 22 minutes or less, and there were significant contributions from the bench. Sophomore guard/forward Khalil Iverson went 4-4 in the paint and 1-1 from beyond the arc while playing 16 minutes. Jordan Hill also went 4-5 and 2-3 from beyond the arc.

The Badgers showed they can play up-tempo in this game, which is impressive because they are known for playing possession- by-possession basketball. As their shooting improves through the season, Wisconsin should be a contender for the Big Ten title this season.

Michigan State vs. Northwood

Here’s a stat line: 12-14 in the paint, 5-5 from three, 4-5 from the free throw line, 2 offensive rebounds, 6 defensive rebounds, 29 minutes.

That is the stat line of freshman Miles Bridges. If there were any doubts about how he would play this season, there shouldn’t be anymore. He scored 33 points and left it all out on the court.

Miles Bridges was the star of this game and looks as though this won’t be the first time we write about the Spartan. Unfortunately, outside of Bridges, Michigan State was relatively underwhelming. Nick Ward came off the bench and went 6-11 in the paint and Eron Harris struggled in his first college game. Harris went 2-8 in paint and 1-6 beyond the arc. Outside of Bridges, the team struggled beyond the arc, shooting 4-13 as a team.

Michigan State should settle in as the season begins and see more production from players outside of Bridges. This game did show that once again, Tom Izzo and his team wil be fun to watch this season.

***

Three Big Ten games and three wins. These were important games for Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan State to play, in order to get a feel for how the season will go and what starting lineups may look like. If these three games are any indication of how the season will go, it looks like the Big Ten is set for a great season ahead.