On the second day of the season there are three Big Ten teams in action, with Purdue playing for the Space Coast Challenge Title, Nebraska hosting Nevada and Illinois facing in-state Chicago State.
Game of the Day:
- Time/TV: 8:30 ET (CBSSN)
In the first game of the Space Coast Challenge the Boilermakers knocked off a Liberty team that won 30 games last year. The Flames lost a lot of the players that got them there, but this Purdue team is also looking young once again. In his first action 7’4” center Zach Edey scored 19 points on 9 of 10 shooting in 16 minutes. Jaden Ivey also added 12 points from the bench, while Brandon Newman scored 9 points. Potentially more promising was Aaron Wheeler shot 4 of 6 from the field, including 2 of 3 from three, after a rough time shooting the ball last year.
Purdue shot 58.5% from the field and 50% from three, but only 54.5% from the line and committed 16 turnovers. They also got into foul trouble, with two starters (Trevion Williams and Aaron Wheeler) picking up four fouls. They did hold Liberty to 40.4% shooting and only 34.4% from three on 32 attempts, while dominating inside against the Flames.
Today they’ll get to face a Clemson team that had a rough day scoring the ball last night against SEC opponent Mississippi State, with the Tigers winning 53-42.
After making it to the NCAA Tournament in 2018 Clemson has saw their win totals drop from 25 to 20 to 16.
In a game where neither team shot better than 35.2% from the field, Clemson made 19 of 54 field goals and only 5 of their 25 three pointers. Only two Tigers reached double figures, with Al-Amir Dawes and PJ Hall scoring 10 points each. Clemson spread playing time around, with nine players playing at least 16 minutes and no one playing more than 26 minutes. They couldn’t find a way to spark the offense, though.
If Clemson comes out flat again tomorrow it’s going to be hard against a Purdue team with two capable bigs inside and a wide variety of players that can hit from outside. Clemson managed to shut down Mississippi State and will need to keep this game a low scoring affair if they want to knock off Purdue, especially after Purdue shot just under 60% yesterday.
The Boilermakers still have plenty of questions but a rusty Clemson offense won’t find enough of a spark, allowing Purdue to leave Florida with a 2-0 record.
- Pick: Purdue
-Chicago State Cougars at #8 Illinois Fighting Illini
- Time/TV: 12:00 PM ET (BTN)
One of the biggest question marks for Illinois this year is if they can improve their ability to shoot the ball. In their first game the Illini scored 122 points while shooting 54.8% from three. And today’s outing will come against much lesser competition in Chicago State.
Ayo Dosunmu and Adam Miller led the Illini with 28 points apiece, while Kofi Cockburn added 18 points and 10 rebounds yesterday. Against Chicago State they may not have to play as many minutes in a game that is likely to not be very competitive. The Cougars shot 35.1% from the field and 20% from the three in a 23 points loss to Ohio yesterday. Chicago State hasn’t won more than eight games in a season since 2014 and have a KenPom rating almost dead last in the country.
This could get ugly.
- Pick: Illinois
-Nevada Wolfpack at Nebraska Cornhuskers
- Time/TV: 2:00 PM ET (BTN)
The Wolfpack didn’t set the world on fire in Steve Alford’s first season last year, going 19-12 after three seasons in a row of at least 28 wins. Now they need to replace four starters and will look to rely pretty heavily on a laundry list of transfers. In their first game they didn’t get off to a great start, scoring 62 on 38.3% shooting. They did force 16 turnovers and hold North Dakota State to 29.1% shooting, though.
Nebraska ended a 17 game losing streak with a win over McNeese State. The Cornhuskers are once again high on roster turnover and new faces, just like last year. A roster with four transfers set to start means Nebraska could also see plenty of growing pains, though their 102 points against McNeese State was a promising start.
The Cornhuskers frontcourt could prove problematic, with Derrick Walker suspended and Eduardo Andre out due to COVID. A dynamic backcourt could give Nebraska an edge, but the Nevada defense will stifle a young team as they work to get into sync.
Fred Hoiberg should eventually get things going for Nebraska, but this early in the season with so many new guys and size issues, it’s hard to pick them here. It should be close but Nevada should find a way.
- Pick: Nevada