The Big Ten had a plethora of games on Friday night, highlighted by the final two matchups in the 2023 Gavitt Tipoff Games. The night largely went as expected, with a few hiccups along the way.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 18 Michigan State Spartans 74, Butler Bulldogs 54
Through the first week and a half of the season, Michigan State has been struggling to find its balance. The Spartans’ offense has looked like a mess for large segments of the year, including a horrific performance from three-point range. That all culminated in a tough loss to Duke on Tuesday night. Fans were hoping the Spartans could bounce back against a feisty Butler squad at home on Friday.
Fortunately, fans got their wish.
For the first time this season, Michigan State looked like its preseason billing. The Spartans absolutely rolled over the Bulldogs en route to a dominating 74-54 win. The team used its bench well and finally did something from long range, shooting 7-of-20 from deep. Tyson Walker led the way with 21 points and four assists.
Michigan State now finds itself sitting at 2-2 overall. The team will return to action on Sunday at home against Alcorn State. KenPom favors the Spartans by double-digits.
-No. 23 Illinois Fighting Illini 87, Valparaiso Beacons 64
This one was a little uncomfortable in the first half, but Illinois was able to put things away soon thereafter and cruised to a 23-point win. Terrence Shannon once again led the way with 22 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Illinois improved to 3-1 overall with the win. The team will return to action on Sunday at home against Southern.
-Iowa Hawkeyes 88, Arkansas State Red Wolves 74
The Hawkeyes won this won pretty comfortably. Ben Krikke led the way with 25 points, nine rebounds, and two assists. Dasonte Bowen also had 17 points. Iowa improved to 3-1 with the win. The team will now prepare for its Thanksgiving tournament, which will begin with Oklahoma on Thanksgiving Day. The Sooners are favored.
-No. 21 Villanova Wildcats 57, Maryland Terrapins 40
Like Michigan State above, it’s been a tough start for Maryland this season, even despite pretty lofty preseason expectations. Fans were hoping the Terps could show improvement on Friday against an inconsistent Villanova squad. Instead, Maryland got absolutely dominated as the team scored a putrid 0.68 points per possession. The only starter to even score double-digits was Julian Reese, who had 10 points in 30 minutes.
Maryland fell to 1-3 with the loss and while we never want to overreact this early in the season, it’s getting harder to excuse what the Terps are doing out there. The team has looked utterly hapless on offense and is playing like a Big Ten bottom feeder right now. If Kevin Willard doesn’t get things turned around quickly, this could start spiraling. The Terps will return to action on Tuesday at home against UMBC. That is a must win.
-Long Beach State Beach 94, Michigan Wolverines 86
This was probably the most disappointing result of the night for the Big Ten. The Wolverines had shown plenty of promise through the team’s first three games, but fell apart in this one, losing a “buy game” at home to Long Beach State. And while the Beach are solidly above most other mid-major opponents (90th on KenPom), there’s still no excuse for this one. Marcus Tshonis absolutely shredded Michigan’s defense en route to 35 points. Michigan’s frontcourt struggled significantly, as Tarrris Reed finished with eight points and Will Tschetter fouled out in just 15 minutes off the bench.
Michigan now finds itself at 3-1 overall. The team can still easily overcome this loss, but it’s going to have to improve defensively. That effort will begin on Wednesday against a pretty solid Memphis team. A win there would get many to forget this.
-Penn State Nittany Lions 74, Morehead State Eagles 51
The Nittany Lions grabbed an easy win here against an overmatched Morehead State squad. Qudus Wahab led the way with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Ace Baldwin also had 12 points. Penn State improved to 4-0 on the season with the win. The team will return to action on Thanksgiving Day against Texas A&M. It’s Penn State’s first real test of the season.
-Wisconsin Badgers 78, Robert Morris Colonials 68
The Badgers also scored a double-digit win on Friday against an overmatched opponent. Tyler Wahl led the way for Wisconsin with 18 points and five rebounds. John Blackwell also had 18 points off the bench in just 18 minutes of game time. The win pushed Wisconsin to 2-2 overall. The team will now prepare for Virginia in Fort Myers on Monday.