The day all Big Ten basketball fans have been waiting for finally arrived and didn’t disappoint. 12 Big Ten teams began their 2017-18 seasons today. As expected, there were some blowouts, but quite a few teams experienced an unexpected scare as well.
Game of the Night
Indiana State 90, Indiana 69
There were some closer games tonight, but given the magnitude of this upset, the Sycamore’s demoralization of the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall undoubtedly highlighted the opening night of Big Ten basketball.
After losing James Blackmon Jr, Thomas Bryant, and OG Anunoby after last season, no one is expecting the Hoosiers to improve from last season. However, I don’t think anyone anticipated Indiana State, who finished 11-20 last season, to come into Bloomington and absolutely handle Indiana.
Frankly, this game was over around six or seven minutes into the game. The only point that Indiana led was 2:15 into the first half, with an insignificant 4-3 lead. From there, the Sycamores went on a 16-5 run and never pumped the brakes. Before Indiana’s student section filled out, Indiana State had a double digit lead.
The Sycamores led 54-33 at half and shot a lethal 59.2 percent from the floor in the game. All five of Indiana State’s starters scored in double figures and the Sycamores converted 17 three pointers, something they didn’t do all of last season.
Don’t get me wrong, Indiana State was definitely better than their record last season. And they are notorious for playing in-state teams tough, they even knocked off no. 16 Butler last year. But a 21-point loss on its home floor to open the season is flat out embarrassing for Indiana.
Wisconsin 85, South Carolina State 50
Though the Badgers held an 18-point lead at half, they let SC State hang around a little too long in the second half. But, two consecutive three-pointers with under nine minutes remaining from Andy Van Vliet to give Wisconsin a 20-point lead sealed the deal. Van Vliet scored 18 points and collected eight rebounds on 7-11 shooting from the floor in his first career start. Brevin Pritzl also had a solid showing in his first start, as he scored 17 points and went 6-10 from the floor. As the new face of Wisconsin basketball, Ethan Happ dominated. Happ scored 20 points and grabbed 11 boards. Happ was lights out from the floor, converting eight of 11 shots. This was a solid showing by a new-look Badgers squad to begin the season.
Michigan State 98, North Florida 66
No drama here. Michigan State breezing by their competition and dropping nearly 100 points is something to get used to, at least during non-conference play. It took around four minutes for the Spartans to get going, but once they did, it was off to the races. Sparty never looked back from Nick Ward’s layup to go up 15-13 with 15:54 left in the first half. Michigan State shot 57.4 percent from the floor as all of its starters scored at least 12 points. Bridges led the way with 20 points, and he also collected 10 rebounds for his first of many double-doubles to come this season.
Minnesota 92, South Carolina Upstate 77
SC Upstate actually hung with no. 15 Minnesota for a while in the first half. The score was tied at 31 with only 4:46 remaining in the opening 20 minutes. But from there, the Gophers found their stride. Minnesota closed the first half on a 12-2 run and held a 10 point lead going into the locker room. Though the Gophers didn’t completely run away with it, SC Upstate never cut the deficit to single digits in the second half. Jordan Murphy was the star of the show. Murphy dropped a career-high 35 points and also added 15 rebounds.
Northwestern 79, Loyola (MD) 75
This was one of the surprises in the Big Ten tonight. Northwestern needed every bucket it could get in order to avoid a disastrous upset in its debut at All-State Arena. Scottie Lindsey and Bryant McIntosh, who will be the no. 19 Wildcats’ leaders again this season, looked great. Lindsey scored 26 points and collected nine rebounds, while McIntosh added 16 points and seven boards. But, Loyola just wouldn’t go away. Northwestern led by 13 at half in what looked to be a game they would pull away in. However, Andrew Kostecka and the Greyhounds had other plans. This game nearly went down to the final buzzer, Northwestern only held a 75-73 lead with 14 seconds remaining. The Greyhounds also had the ball down two with six seconds after Lindsey missed two free throws. However, Loyola turned the ball over with two seconds and the Wildcats escaped with a win. A simultaneous exhale could be heard around the stadium.
Purdue 105, SIU Edwardsville 74
Aside from the first five or six minutes, Purdue coasted in this one. The no. 20 Boilermakers were presented with little defensive pressure, and shot 59 percent en route to their triple-digit scoring outing. Dakota Mathias was Purdue’s leading scorer with 18 points. Four other Boilermakers scored in double figures as well. Purdue was actually beat on the glass 40-39. That’s a major area where they will feel the loss of Caleb Swanigan this season, but it clearly wasn’t an issue tonight.
Penn State 86, Campbell 75
Thanks to junior guard Chris Clemons, the Camels never let things get out of hand in this one. Clemons exploited the Nittany Lions and scored 39 points. This wasn’t even a career high for the scoring machine, Clemons scored 51 against UNC Asheville last season and has only failed to score in double figures once in his collegiate career. Luckily for Penn State, Tony Carr added 33 points. The two guards put on a scoring showcase, but the Nittany Lions were ultimately able to control the tempo and led for the majority of the game.
Ohio State 95, Robert Morris 64
The Buckeyes never felt nervous tonight. Ohio State was able to dictate the pace and basically do anything they wanted for the whole game. This was an ideal win for OSU under new head coach Chris Holtmann. Keita Bates-Diop opened the season with a double-double, 19 points and 11 rebounds to be exact. The Buckeyes absolutely crushed Robert Morris on the boards. Ohio State collected 51 rebounds and Robert Morris was only able to pick up 22.
Rutgers 94, City College of New York 38
Things are beginning to turn in the right direction for Rutgers. A confidence-building win over a non-D1 program was a perfect way to start the season for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers began the game on a 9-0 run and held CCNY to 13 points in the first half. Issa Thiam scored 19 points and collected 11 rebounds for his first career double-double. Deshawn Freeman also added 16 points and was a perfect 7-7 from the floor.
Maryland 76, Stony Brook 61
Maryland was the only Big Ten team today to open their season away from home. The only show Stony Brook gave their home crowd on opening night was a solid second half, in which they outscored the Terrapins 38-35. But, the outcome of this one was never in doubt for Maryland. The Terrapins never trailed in the contest and displayed a balanced team effort. Five Maryland players scored at least 10 points, with Anthony Cowan’s 15 points leading the way. Justin Jackson also dropped an 11-point, 14-rebound double-double.
Illinois 102, Southern 55
Purdue wasn’t the only Big Ten team to score over 100 on opening night. Mark Alstork and Aaron Jordan each contributed 17 points in a scoring barrage for the Illini. Alstork added 10 rebounds as well. The scoring for Illinois ran deep, as Jordan came off the bench and Kipper Nichols added 14 points off the bench. The Illini never fell behind in the game and led 53-31 at half. Illinois also only committed 10 turnovers in the game.
Iowa 95, Chicago State 62
Chicago State really only seemed to be in this game when they opened the scoring with a layup 21 seconds in. That was pretty much all she wrote from there. Six different Hawkeyes scored at least 10 points. Freshman center Luka Garza, who got the start, was extremely effective in his debut. Garza dropped 16 points on 6-6 shooting and had three blocks. The four-star, 6-11 center’s performance is only a sign of things to come.