10:15 PM – Make sure to stop back tomorrow for more live coverage from Indianapolis from WVaBuckeye and Gary Russell! A preview of tomorrow’s games will be up shortly to get you ready for all four excellent matchups.
10:00 PM – Gary Russell here from Indy finishing out today’s action. The second half started off with a flurry but Purdue really flexed its muscles in pulling away and beating Nebraska in the Husker’s first trip to the tourney by a score of 79-61. Today’s action reminded me of what the Big Ten is all about. While Minnesota’s overtime thriller was the best game of the day, the other games still showed us that the Big Ten has tremendous heart, determination, and class. Here’s to a great first day and an awesome second day.
9:00 PM – Gary Russell from Indy and Purdue is leading Nebraska 39-31 at halftime. Upset minded Nebraska kept it close early but they didn’t seem to have an answer for Purdue on the boards. The Boilermakers cashed in on their second chance points going up by 15 at one point. Bo Spencer hits a three and a lay up at the 2:03 mark shrinking the lead to 8. The teams trade baskets to close out the half putting us where we are at halftime.
7:40 PM – Northwestern’s dreams came to an end here in OT. A hot shooting Gopher squad made their free throws and some timely threes to post a 75-68 win. Shurna and Cobb combined for 45 of Northwestern’s points, while Andre Hollins lead Minnesota and all scorers with 25. Minnesota moves on to face TTUN tomorrow in game three of day 2.
Sometimes you just have to submit to the fact that Nerds got it going on. Despite losing to it’s only two ranked opponents in non-conference play, the Wildcats enter the Big Ten season at a sizzling 10-2. In the pre-season, we took a closer look at the Wildcats with the belief that they could contend in the Big Ten just one year after arguably their best season in the last decade.
Hope and aspiration turns into reality tomorrow night, as the Wildcats meet the Ohio State Buckeyes to open up B1G play in Columbus.
|Head Coach:||Bill Carmody|
Since 2000, Northwestern fans have known what to expect on the court to start the basketball season. A constant struggle in the Big Ten. A Princeton offense that had yet to fully see the proper personnel to completely flourish under head coach Bill Carmody. Finally in 2008, things started to come together. After a 17-14 record to finish the season, the Wildcats went into 2009 strong. After the defeat of back to back top 25 teams (Michigan State, Minnesota), the Wildcats became ranked in December, for the first time since 1969. Northwestern would ride that momentum into 2010, when the Wildcats battled within the conference all year long.
Ohio State fans can attest to their ability to stay in ballgames. After a one point win over the purple machine in late January, the Wildcats battled with the Buckeyes to overtime in the Big Ten Tournament.
Gone though is the heart of the Wildcat offense in Juice Thompson, who made the Princeton attack flow. The Wildcats didn’t just lose a hard working scrapper turned top notch point guard for the Northwestern system — they have to replace the production of the all-time assists leader in NU history. He went from being a scrappy defender to one of the biggest clutch shooters in school history. Most importantly, he gave the Wildcats control of the ballgame. Thompson played a major part in the 1.7 assist to turnover ratio last season, which was the second best in the nation to Big Ten foe Wisconsin.
Though a lot of talent returns to this team, Northwestern basketball will still have an uphill battle during the 2011-12 season. Every year, Chicago’s Big Ten team battles with the fact that expectations are low no matter who takes the court. Another winning season, with a better showing in Big Ten play, could finally change the identity of a school best known for it’s struggles and inability to compete at a high level.
There is always something strange about watching a team that wears purple uniforms competing on the court. What’s even more strange is that this team has a chance to be above .500 for the fourth straight year. They also have the talent to make a run in the NCAA tournament, if everything comes together.
With the Buckeyes sitting at 22-0 and looking variably unstoppable and completely beatable from game to game, it brings a puzzle to mind: How is it that some of the best defensive minds in college basketball have yet to figure out a way to stop this offense?
Ohio State is playing with a number of freshman (though extraordinarily good ones) and using a fairly basic offensive play set. Those are two traits that should be easily exploitable, and yet very good defensive teams have looked completely lost. Poor Matt Painter didn’t even come close, and he has to be one of the best young guns in the college basketball coaching scene.
But then, suddenly, Bill Carmody’s squad nearly caught the Buckeyes off-guard. What was the difference between the Purdue game and the Northwestern game? Did the Buckeyes simply shoot poorly? Partly. Was there a difference between how Penn State defended the Bucks and how Purdue went about it? Actually, no. Let’s sort out what these teams are doing to try to combat the Buckeyes, and what has worked so far.
First, it’s helpful to understand a little about the Buckeye offense. Functionally, the Bucks work their best magic with a 4 guard, 1 center lineup. If you’ve seen an OSU game this season then you know that the Buckeyes are best with Aaron Craft (1), Jon Diebler (2), William Buford (3), David Lighty (4) and Jared Sullinger (5) on the floor (keep in mind that the numbers for the three experienced players are approximations at best).
This is a rather unusual set for a “big conference team” who can usually recruit and put a more balanced lineup on the floor. The Buckeyes, however, make this strategy work magic for them. Read on to see how.