The Big Ten and Big East have been battling in the Gavitt Games all week and Wednesday presented a great slate of games to continue things. And with the Big East leading 2-1 over the Big Ten heading into the night, the league needed some big performances.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Day:
-No. 16 Ohio State Buckeyes 76, No. 10 Villanova Wildcats 51
Well, that was surprising. While most respected Ohio State and the team’s chances coming into Wednesday night’s matchup against Villanova at home, few expected the Buckeyes to walk away with a blowout win. The Wildcats were considered contenders for the Final Four this season and ranked in the top 10 nationally. However, for the second year in a row, Villanova got steamrolled against a Big Ten team in November.
What’s particularly wild about this game is how utterly dominating Ohio State was out of the gates. The Buckeyes led 29-10 after 10 minutes of game play and Villanova really never improved from there. All told, Ohio State grabbed a dominating 76-51 win at home.
To put things in perspective, Villanova finished with a putrid 0.80 points per possession in this game. It was the team’s lowest output since Michigan blew out the Wildcats early last season. Villanova had gone 33 straight games without a night like that. And this year’s Villanova team was projected to be better than last year’s group. It was a truly remarkable defensive performance from the Buckeyes.
And while Ohio State didn’t light things up offensively, it was a group effort. Five Buckeyes scored double-figures, including true freshman DJ Carton. That has to be really encouraging for the group moving forward. If Carton can continue to play well, Ohio State could achieve some major things this year.
Ohio State will now get a few days off before resuming play on Monday at home against a horrendous Stetson team. Expect an easy win for the Buckeyes.
-Northwestern Wildcats 72, Providence Friars 63
Wednesday night was another great lesson in the unpredictability of college basketball. Just when we thought Northwestern was dead in the water, the team surprises us with a massive home win over Providence. Despite coming in as solid favorites, Providence came out of the gates cold and that would prove to be the difference. The win improved the Wildcats to 1-1 on the season after the team fell at home to Merrimack last Friday night.
The player of the game for Northwestern was Anthony Gaines, who finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Ryan Young also had 16 points of his own. It’s still too early to know whether the loss to Merrimack was an abberration, but Wednesday night was really encouraging. Providence was rated in the top 20 on KenPom before tip and figure to be in the hunt for an NCAA bid. Scoring a win against a team like that deserves praise.
Northwestern will now have nearly a week off before getting back into action next Tuesday at home against Radford. That should actually be a more challenging game than Radford’s name suggests. The Highlanders are a top 140 team nationally.
-Marquette Golden Eagles 65, Purdue Boilermakers 55
Although Purdue came out on the wrong side in this one, it was actually a really entertaining game. The Boilermakers got up early, but faded in the second half and had trouble stopping the Golden Eagles on the boards. Markus Howard only had 18 points, but it was enough to push Marquette to the win.
The loss drops Purdue to 1-2 on the season. And while both losses came against quality competition, fans have to be concerned with how the team’s offense performed on Wednesday night. There were really cold segments, the team struggled from the charity stripe, and only shot 25.0 percent from deep. All told, Purdue finished with 0.87 points per possession. Not exactly what you’d expect to see out of a team rated 9th on KenPom.
Purdue will return to action on Saturday at home against a really bad Chicago State team. KenPom gives the team a 99.8 percent chance to win that game.
-Rutgers Scarlet Knights 62, Drexel Dragons
Once again, Rutgers ended up playing a bit too close for comfort against an underwhelming team on Wednesday night. As fans will surely recall, Rutgers nearly lost to Bryant at home to open the season.
And while the Scarlet Knights were able to come out with the win, Drexel kept things competitive and held Rutgers’ offense in check for the vast majority of the night. The Scarlet Knights ended up finishing with 0.93 points per possession, which isn’t great. Either way, Rutgers improved to 3-0 on the season with the win.
Rutgers still projects decently moving forward, but there are clearly some offensive issues for this team. And ready or not, things are going to get tougher moving forward. The team will now prepare for a matchup against St. Bonaventure on a neutral court on Saturday. This will be the toughest opponent Rutgers has faced to date.
-Wisconsin Badgers 83, McNeese State Cowboys 63
There’s not a lot of analysis needed here. Wisconsin hosted a bad McNeese State team at home on Wednesday night and was able to walk away with a 20-point win. Things were closer than fans would have liked in the first half, but the Badgers pulled away in the second half. Brad Davison finished with 24 points. Wisconsin will now prepare for a showdown against Marquette at home on Sunday. It figures to be a great game.