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Week Seven: BTP Game of the Week: Northwestern at Oklahoma

Major Conference Foes Highlight Pre-Holiday Play

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at DePaul Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Week six was a needed bounce-back for the Big Ten. Buoyed by Rutgers’ upset win over Seton Hall and a sweep of the Crossroads Classic on Saturday, the league saved some face following a tumultuous first month. Despite perception, the bottom of the league is stronger than it’s been in recent years. Celler-dwellers Illinois and Iowa are inexperienced and have abysmal records in close games. But they at least appear capable of playing competent basketball and could play spoiler in February and (early) March.

Week 7 offers the Big Ten a chance to score some big time upsets, but there’s little else to be gained as teams play their last “buy” games against the trough of Division 1.

Game of the Week

Northwestern Wildcats at Oklahoma Sooners

The Wildcats haven’t looked particularly good and already lost badly to another Big 12 team. Something tells me, though, that they’ll be able to contain, if not stop, Trae Young in this one. Young’s shooting volume is high by video game standards and his numbers reflect someone who’d benefit from a more consistent second option (Christian James?). Keying on Young obviously hasn’t worked for other teams, but Northwestern plays relatively solid defense.

It will be critical for Northwestern to avoid foul trouble, specifically in keeping Young off the free throw line. On the offensive end, they’ll need a better showing from Bryant McIntosh. They were lucky to survive his 2-17 effort against DePaul, where Scottie Lindsey picked up the slack. They’ll need Lindsey, McIntosh, Vic Law and probably one more scorer to outpace the Sooners.

Honorable Mentions

Ohio State Buckeyes at North Carolina Tar Heels

The undercard to the UCLA-Kentucky (a matchup so inferior to last year’s that it almost makes me yearn for Loudmouth LaVar), this game draws my favorite time slot in sports, early afternoon on a Saturday. Rarely do I ever experience stress early afternoon on a Saturday (except when my Illini are playing).

Ohio State will be neutral court dogs in New Orleans, and there’s not much to suggest they can win this game. It will be interesting to watch Keita Bates-Diop against big time competition. Gonzaga was able to shut him down on a neutral court, and if Carolina can do the same this game should be pretty routine for the Tarheels.

Missouri Tigers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

I’d love to write 500 words on Jeremiah Tilmon, Cuonzo Martin, the morals of hiring top recruits’ fathers, etc. but seeing as this is a Big Ten blog I’ll try to stay on topic.

Are you an Indiana or Northwestern fan who thinks Illinois fans have had it too easy over the last 10 years? Then do I have the game for you…

It’s been an excruciating season for the Illini, in large part because they have played relatively well… for parts of games. They’ve yet to play a 40 minute game against legitimate competition, and poor late-game execution has doomed them to five early losses. Every one of those losses has come down to the wire; two in overtime, the other three to the final minute.

That’s all to say that the Illini are probably a little better than their record, and enter as winners of four straight Braggin’ Rights games. Perhaps (what remains of) Illini nation will have their hearts broken again. But this should be another close, if not entirely beautiful, basketball game.

Worst Game of the Week

Alabama A&M Bulldogs at Michigan Wolverines

Last week someone made the comment that these “honors” should default to whichever team was playing a non-division 1 team during the nonconference season. I disagree with that assessment, however, and would argue that no matter how lopsided the result, I think its pretty cool that Division II or III teams get the chance to play in Big Ten gyms. Certainly they enjoy the experience more than Alabama A&M will…

Season Stats

Game of the Week Appearances by Team:

  • Michigan – 1
  • Michigan State – 2
  • Northwestern – 1
  • Purdue – 2
  • Wisconsin – 1

Game of the Week Honorable Mention Appearances by Team:

  • Illinois – 1
  • Indiana – 1
  • Iowa – 1
  • Maryland – 1
  • Minnesota – 4
  • Nebraska – 1
  • Northwestern – 1
  • Ohio State – 1
  • Penn State – 1
  • Wisconsin – 2

Total Appearances by Team:

  • Illinois – 1
  • Indiana – 1
  • Iowa – 1
  • Maryland – 1
  • Michigan – 1
  • Michigan State – 2
  • Minnesota – 4
  • Nebraska – 1
  • Northwestern – 2
  • Ohio State – 1
  • Penn State – 1
  • Purdue – 2
  • Wisconsin – 3

Worst Game Appearances by Team:

  • Illinois – 1
  • Iowa – 1
  • Michigan – 1
  • Nebraska – 1
  • Northwestern – 1
  • Ohio State – 1
  • Wisconsin – 1