It is the first Saturday of Big Ten basketball today, and there are a host of games you can choose to watch in leu of football if you so desire. Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State, and No. 13 Michigan State all see action at varying times today.
Game of the Day:
-Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Michigan State Spartans
- Time/TV: 8 PM EST (BTN)
The Spartans opened their season Wednesday with a win over in-state opponent Easter Michigan. Despite the Eagles being down six players, their 2-3 zone gave the Spartans a lot of difficulty. They prevailed in the end 83-67, but Joshua Langford and Joey Hauser certainly showed their rust after missing the last few seasons each. Hopefully for MSU everyone comes out firing on all cylinders tonight as the Fighting Irish come to town for what will be their first game of the season.
The Fighting Irish are likely to come into this game energized and looking for an upset of their traditional gridiron rival, but the odds will be stacked against them. While Mike Brey has put together some good squads that have been riddled with injuries the past few seasons, this year mostly looks to be a down one based on roster.
Notre Dame returns two starters, point guard Prentiss Hubb and fifth-year big man Juwan Durham. It will be interesting to see if Foster Loyer stays the starter like on Wednesday whether he can match up well against the lanky Hubb. As for the ND defensive end, Brey may also mix in some heavier zone defense over his usual mix of man-to-man and zone following the results of the Eastern game. That could make for an interesting match-up given MSU’s superior bench of big men.
Despite all of that, the Spartans should emerge out of this with a double-digit win, if only barely depending on ND performance. Despite all of this, the traditional football rivals offer an intriguing early season match-up in this odd, odd year that is 2020 which should be can’t miss basketball.
- Pick: Michigan State
-North Dakota State Bison vs Nebraska Cornhuskers
- Time/TV: 12:00 PM EST (BTN)
The Huskers opened the season Wednesday with a win over McNeese State, but turned around just over 24 hours later to open their Golden Window Classic premier and turned in a dud of a loss against the Nevada Wolf Pack. Up in game two of the classic will be North Dakota State.
The Bison return a pair of starters and seven letter-winners from a team that went 25-8 last season and shared the Summit League regular-season title. The Bison also went on to win the the conference tournament. Adding to the intrigue of the match-up between the two programs is that seventh year head coach David Richman was a grad assistant (2003-05) and assistant coach (2005-07) under former Nebraska head coach Time Miles. He has also led the Biseon to a pair of NCAA Tournaments (not even including the automatic bid of the cancelled 2020 tournament).
The Bison are led by senior forward Rocky Kreuser, who averaged 10.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game last season. NDSU also returns Tyree Eady (6.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg) and Sam Griesel (6.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg) among its seven returnees.
This the second meeting between the two programs and the first since 1933. With around 48 hours of rest between games this team, the Huskers should leave the Bison wanting just as long of a hiatus before game three.
- Pick: Nebraska
-Virginia Military Institute Keydets vs Penn State Nittany Lions
- Time/TV: 1:00 PM EST (BTN+)
VMI is the birthplace of two of the three fraternities in the Lexington Triad, one of which is my own, Alpha Tau Omega, and the other is my uncle’s, Sigma Nu. I will be honest with you, for me that is the most noteworthy facet to this matchup that will be on a premium streaming service.
The Keydets opened their season with a 90-63 win over St. St. Andrews. Ta’Vonne Bond came off the bench to lead in scoring with 14 points, while five other Keydets scored at least ten points. Louis tang, Myles Lewis, and Sean Conway led in rebounding with five boards apiece. The Nitanny Lions should make quick work of this one, though.
- Pick: Penn State
-Loyola Marymount vs Minnesota Golden Gophers
- Time/TV: 6:00 PM EST (BTN)
The Golden Gophers will play one of two games against Loyola Marymount today. They will also play again on Monday.
The Loyola Marymount Lions narrowly beat Southern Utah 85-83 to open their season on Wednesday. The Lions managed 51.8 percent shooting while holding the Thunderbirds to 48.3 percent. Mattias Markusson for the Lions scored 19 points and grabbed five rebounds, while Demeane Douglas scored 16 points and also grabbed five boards. Keli Leaupepe also scored in double-digits for Loyola.
Minnesota shouldn’t have any issues in this game after beating Wisconsin-Green Bay 99-69 in their own season opener. Given how the NU-MSU football game is likely to go, you will likely want to change the channel to this one regardless in the lead-up to ND-MSU at 8.
- Pick: Minnesota