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I really thought Ohio State was done with the upsets after it stunned Purdue two weekends ago in interim head coach Jake Diebler’s debut, but on Sunday, the Buckeyes pulled off yet another shocker. They went into East Lansing as 10-point underdogs and beat Michigan State 60-57 with the margin of victory coming on a last-second three-point heave by Dale Bonner. Just moments earlier, Tyson Walker had a chance to put Michigan State ahead with a fair of free throws, but he somehow wedged his first attempt in between the backboard and the rim. Walker had to settle for a tie with his second free throw, but Bonner’s clutch bomb ensured that it didn’t matter.

Ohio State is now 2-1 since Chris Holtmann was fired, and I feel a little bad for him even though he is technically on a paid vacation right now. These kinds of wins are what Ohio State was building towards with its young lineup, and against Michigan State, it was even younger than usually due to Jamison Battle missing the game with an ankle injury. Freshman Scotty Middleton replaced Battle to give Ohio State all underclassman in the starting five. The Buckeyes certainly missed Battle’s three-point prowess, as they went 3-for-17 from beyond the arc in the low-scoring affair, but the Spartans had their own shooting issues and shot just 4-for-16 from that range, including 1-for-9 from Tyson Walker and Jaden Akins.

Still, Michigan State appeared to have the game under control with a 12-point lead and 11 minutes on the clock, but Devin Royal came off the bench for Ohio State and proved to be an unlikely hero alongside Felix Okpara. The pair of big men led the Buckeyes on the comeback trail and closed to within one point at 52-51 with six minutes left, setting the stage for the exciting conclusion. Royal, another freshman, showed off his post moves and mid-range game while scoring 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting in just 18 minutes. Okpara added 10 points and six rebounds, with four coming on offense.

No matter who is the head coach for Ohio State next year, the team has a bright future with all the young talent that has emerged this season. If the roster doesn’t fall apart, it should be a very desirable job since whoever gets it will be in line for massive improvement without having to do much. Michigan State, meanwhile, looked like it was a lock for the NCAA Tournament a week ago, but back-to-back home losses over teams with worse records have put the Spartans’ postseason status in doubt. It doesn’t help that their next game is on Saturday at Purdue.

Speaking of the Boilermakers, they took care of business on Sunday with a 84-76 victory at Michigan. The Wolverines as usual showed some life in the first half, but Purdue broke away with an 18-6 run leading into halftime and kept Michigan at arm’s length for the rest of the game. Juwan Howard made the odd decision to not double team Zach Edey, and he took full advantage with 35 points on 14-for-18 shooting. Purdue had a poor shooting day from beyond the arc, going 7-for-24, but Edey and company grabbed 17 offensive rebounds to mitigate the damage. Without all those second chances, it would have been a much more interesting game, as Michigan got a balanced effort on offense led by Dug McDaniel’s 19 points and six assists. The Wolverines shot 48 percent from the field and 43 percent from three-point range even with Olivier Nkamhoua out for the rest of the season due to wrist surgery.

The most exciting game of the Big Ten weekend was Illinois’ 95-85 win over Iowa in Champaign. It was also a great example of why gambling should be done responsibly. Iowa was in the game the whole way through and even led by seven with just over 12 minutes left, but Illinois pulled away late with much thanks to a steal and breakaway dunk by Coleman Hawkins that helped it cover the nine-point spread. Hawkins was a major factor all day as he bounced back tremendously from his snafus at the end of the Illini’s loss at Penn State. The long and versatile big man scored 30 points on a scorching 9-for-11 from the field and also dished out five assists and added five steals. Illinois is so tough to play against when Hawkins plays up to his potential because of the nightmare he poses for opposing defenses. He can step back and hit the three against traditional big men and also score in the paint against smaller players. We know what Terrence Shannon Jr. is capable of, but he only needed to score 12 points in this one and Illinois nearly scored 100 points.

Illinois has all the tools it needs to make a deep NCAA Tournament run, and Brad Underwood showed off the depth of his team early in the second half against Iowa when he made a full line change. The Illini played with five bench players on the floor for about four minutes, and the unit held its own. Italian freshman point guard Niccolo Moretti even stuck around and played in crunch time, hitting a pair of huge three-point shots in the process. I’ve talked before about Illinois lacking a traditional point guard in its starting lineup, and while Underwood has found a way to fill the void, Moretti is certainly someone to watch as a potential impact player in March.

For Iowa, it was a disappointing loss even though the team came in as a big underdog. The Hawkeyes were right there for most of the afternoon, but they missed out on a third straight Quad 1 win. As a result, they are still likely out of the NCAA Tournament field if it was decided today. There are still plenty of chances for Iowa to improve its resume with Northwestern and a rematch with Illinois left on the schedule, but first it must defeat Penn State at home on Tuesday night. Josh Dix led the Hawkeyes in scoring in Champaign, and he is becoming a bigger and bigger factor with his mid-range shooting accuracy.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Penn State impressed me with a win over the reeling Hoosiers. I knew that Indiana was down bad and I knew that the Lions were supposed to win, but I was still dreading the game. Fortunately, Indiana continued to be one of the worst shooting teams in the country by going 2-for-15 from three-point range and 14-for-25 at the free throw line. It’s preposterous that an Indiana team is so bad at the great equalizing factor of basketball, and it has been a major factor in the program having a horrific campaign. The Hoosiers still shot 51 percent from the field with Malik Reneau (27 points) and Kel’el Ware (16 points) dominating in the paint, but Ware’s impact was minimized by foul trouble and Penn State pulled away from Indiana with a 26-for-30 performance from the charity stripe and sharp three-point shooting led by Zach Hicks going 4-for-8 from beyond the arc with 17 points.

These days, it’s hard to have a Penn State win without Ace Baldwin Jr. playing well, and he was pretty great on Saturday with 23 points, 7-for-12 shooting, nine assists, and four steals. He also played all 40 minutes and scored eight straight points to give the Lions a little cushion at halftime following a tightly contested first half. The Lions will need Baldwin to keep playing like a stud if they’re going to do anything in the postseason. The NIT is still up for grabs, but to get there, Penn State probably needs to win one of its remaining two road games at Iowa and at Minnesota.

Maryland and Minnesota are two other contenders for the NIT, and they went in opposite directions on Sunday. The Terps picked up a big road win at Rutgers, and it was the first home loss for Rutgers since Penn State went into Piscataway and won 61-46 on the last day of January. Maryland also held the Scarlet Knights under 50 points with a 63-46 victory that was never close after the Terps went on a 10-0 run at the end of the first half that featured three-point shots by Jordan Geronimo, Jahmir Young, and Donta Scott.

We know that Rutgers’ offense has been rotten all year, but it was particularly bad against Maryland’s tough defense. The Knights shot 37 percent from the field, went 2-for-11 from three-point range, and did not have a starter score in double figures. That is ugly. For Maryland, Julian Reese was dominant with 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting, Young handed out nine assists, and Geronimo played one of his best games of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Minnesota is a team we’ve talked about as a dark horse for the NCAA Tournament here and there, but it has a weak non-conference resume and has fallen short in key spots during Big Ten season. Two weeks ago, the Gophers had a chance to pick up a key road win at Iowa, but Dawson Garcia got hurt and they blew a 19-point second half lead. This latest game at Nebraska was another opportunity for Minnesota. I knew Nebraska had not lost a home game in 2024, but I figured it would be hotly contested because of how well Minnesota was playing lately. Well, it was hotly contested for the first 11 minutes. Then the Huskers pulled away on a 14-2 run and continued to increase their lead in the second half.

Keisei Tominaga and Rienk Mast struggled for Nebraska, but Juwan Gary picked up the slack with a game-high 22 points, 7-for-13, shooting, and eight rebounds. Brice Williams pitched in with 15 points, eight rebounds, and three steals while Nebraska’s defense held Minnesota to 31 percent shooting and forced 13 turnovers. The Gophers have not been very good outside of the Barn this season, but they will need to figure out a way to win on the road at Illinois on Wednesday if they want to keep their faint NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

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We’ve been saying for years that Penn State Basketball would be a more impressive television product if the home arena wasn’t the Bryce Jordan Center. The giant arena is way too big for a program that strives to be in the middle of the Big Ten standings in a good year. When Penn State plays in the Palestra or at Rec Hall, it looks like a proper basketball program, and sometimes it even plays like one. Wednesday night was one of those nights with Illinois in town. However, for most of the night, it looked like a typical 2024 Penn State loss. The Lions got off to a hot start on offense, but then fizzled and struggled to keep pace with the talented Illini because of their failure to grab a rebound on defense. Illinois often doesn’t need second chances, especially with Terrence Shannon Jr. playing like he did, but it got 19 of them, with the Swiss Army Knife Ty Rodgers grabbing five offensive boards. That helped make up for 18 Illinois turnovers that Penn State needed just to keep the game respectable while Shannon was going off for a career-high 35 points on 10-for-18 shooting.

Another reason why Penn State only trailed by 10 points with two and a half minutes left was Nick Kern Jr. He has shown some upside with his athleticism this season, but again Illinois he got to the basket at will. At one point in the second half, Kern scored 13 straight Penn State points, and he finished with a season-high 22. Now that Kanye Clary is out of the picture, I’m hoping that Kern can stick around for one or two more seasons and develop into a star, but to do that he needs to expand his range past 10 feet from the basket.

Anyway, Zach Hicks hit a mid-range shot to cut the deficit to eight points, and then the Illinois collapse began. Shannon drove into the paint and kicked the ball to the corner to set up Luke Goode with a wide-open dagger three. With the way Goode shoots the ball, that should be a layup for him, but he missed, and Hicks answered with a triple for Penn State to cut the lead to five. However, Illinois was still in great shape after two free throws from Marcus Domask and a missed three by Ace Baldwin Jr. Now the Illini were up by seven points with less than a minute left. Shannon tried a runner in the paint, but it bounced out and Jameel Brown took advantage by crushing a three-point shot in transition. Brown’s next play was even bigger, though, because Penn State needed a turnover to make it a one-possession game. Brown came through by stripping Shannon of the ball, which led to an easy layup for Puff Johnson. All of a sudden, the Lions trailed by just two with 30 seconds left.

The pressure was building on Illinois to put the game away, and Coleman Hawkins had a chance to do that when he was fouled by Johnson on the next play even though it looked like Hawkins traveled. It ended up not mattering as Hawkins missed both free throws despite being an 80-percent shooter from the charity stripe this season. Penn State appeared to botch the ensuing possession when Baldwin got stuck in the backcourt and Hicks fired off a prayer of a shot from well beyond the arc, but Hawkins incredibly fouled Hicks in his rush to defend the low-percentage attempt. Hicks calmly sunk all three free throws to give Penn State 90-89 lead and it was a big bail-out moment for Mike Rhoades. He got caught sitting on a timeout during that horrible final possession, but the dumb foul by Hawkins changed everything.

Illinois had no time outs and three seconds left to respond, and it came surprisingly close to winning thanks to a long inbounds pass to Justin Harmon that led to a five-foot runner at the buzzer. The shot fell out, and it was time to party in Happy Valley. The upset win was a great morale booster following the departure of Clary, but it probably won’t change the postseason fate of these Lions. The bubble is too competitive and the team has too many weaknesses. It’s not like Penn State outplayed Illinois for more than one wild final minute.

I think the best parts to come out of the win were the national media attention that the awesome Rec Hall atmosphere got and the play of Kern. We now have big college hoops personalities like Andy Katz advocating for more games inside Rec Hall, and that’s great for the future of Penn State Basketball. Plus, I’m going to put my hopes and dreams into Kern developing a jump shot and becoming a versatile scorer down the stretch of this season. After all, the NIT is still a longshot.

I’m now afraid that Penn State will suffer a letdown on Saturday against an Indiana team that appears to be cooked following home losses against Northwestern and Nebraska. The Hoosiers had a great opportunity to get into the bubble conversation with wins over the two teams that have struggled on the road all season long. Indiana was indeed favored in both games, but you would not know from the results. After being beaten soundly by Northwestern on soundly, Mike Woodson’s team was crushed by Nebraska 85-70 on Wednesday. The Hoosiers never had the lead and were bombarded by Nebraska’s three-point shooting. The Huskers took more than half their shots (33 out of 63) from beyond the arc and shot 42 percent from there with Jamarques Lawrence coming off the bench with 19 points on 5-for-5 three-point accuracy. Keisei Tominaga was “only” 4-for-9 from deep and he led Nebraska with 20 points. Indiana got a second straight 20-point performance from Mackenzie Mgbako, but its 4-for-21 shooting from three-point range was not enough to keep pace with Nebraska.

Mike Woodson has got to be on the hot seat with Indiana continuing to disappoint its fans week after week, but the emergence of the freshman Mgbako and the recent good health of Kel’el Ware at least offer hope for the future. Indiana’s backcourt is still a mess with Xavier Johnson out due to injury and Gabe Cupps coming along slowly (he was shut out in two of his last three games), but these Hoosiers are still plenty talented enough to take out Penn State in the BJC. I’m hoping my Lions take care of business and bury the woeful Hoosiers, but despite our win in Bloomington weeks ago, it’s difficult to trust Penn State with its inconsistent play.

We also got three results on Thursday from the Big Ten, but none of them were very surprising. Purdue bounced back from its upset loss to Ohio State by blowing out Rutgers at Mackey Arena. The Boilers shot 59 percent against Rutgers’ normally stout defense, with freshman Camden Heide going 7-for-7 from the field and 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. Having another shooting option to compliment Zach Edey is not what opponents need to see from Purdue right now.

At the Barn, Minnesota pulled away from Ohio State in the second half and won 88-79 despite great games from Bruce Thornton (25 points, 10-for-14 field goals, 6 assists) and Jamison Battle (21 points, 5-for-10 from deep). The Buckeyes shot 51 percent, but the Gophers were even more effective on offense with Elijah Hawkins calling his own number for 24 points in addition to seven assists. Minnesota has now won two straight and five of seven, but an NCAA Tournament bid is still unlikely because of a poor non-conference resume.

With Ohio State and Penn State picking up big wins recently, Michigan is clearly at the bottom of the Big Ten. It stayed that way with a 76-62 loss at Northwestern in which the Wolverines briefly led in the second half before the Wildcats pulled away. Michigan shot the ball better than Northwestern with Nimari Burnett leading the way with 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting, but Nick Martinelli continued to be a beast on the offensive glass for Northwestern like he was in the win over Indiana. The Cats won the offensive rebounding battle 14-5 and the turnover battle 11-5 and ended up taking 20 more shots than Michigan. Boo Buie established himself as the Northwestern GOAT by taking over the all-time scoring lead, but Ryan Langborg has been just as key to their chances lately. He led the team with 20 points, knocked down five of his nine three-point attempts, and now has 46 points in his last two games.

It’s a light Saturday slate for the Big Ten with Penn State taking on Indiana and then Iowa visiting Illinois. The second game is way more interesting because the Hawkeyes have won two straight over Wisconsin and Michigan State while playing their best basketball of the season. A third straight Quad 1 win could force Iowa into some NCAA Tournament projections but it is not going to be easy in Champaign.

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Take some time, after the Super Bowl and before the Tournament, to go back in your mind to the days when you woke pampered, protected and primed for creating you own play-by-play. Abe the Babe, ChabDog and his Uncle Abie, Well-read, DD and Get the Sensation Yorke invite you the “Ain’t That a Wonderment?” CDST Show. Taking stock of some hockey, as all those teams really start to jockey, the NBA finally gets off the pine built during the force-fed All-Star Break, and of course, it’s time to teach ourselves some college basketball….

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I almost feel bad for Purdue fans even though they have a tremendous basketball team that will probably make the Final Four. No matter what the Boilers do in the regular season, there is nothing they can do to change their reputation as a team that collapses in the big moment. The only way to do that is to win in the NCAA Tournament. Whenever Purdue slips up this season, the doubters and haters (Indiana fans) come out of the woodwork to say “this is what will happen in March.”

I have said since November when Purdue won the Maui Invitational that this team reminds me of the 2019 Virginia team that bounced back and won the national championship after losing to a 16 seed the year before. Maybe Purdue will fulfill that prophecy, or maybe it will hilariously disappoint its rabid fans once again. On Sunday in Columbus, Matt Painter’s team gave us a preview of March or a blip on the radar, depending on your perspective. Despite shooting 20-for-20 from the free throw line and dominating the offensive glass like they always do, the Boilers lost 73-69 to an Ohio State team that was playing its first game since head coach Chris Holtmann was fired.

It didn’t help that Purdue turned the ball over 14 times, most notably when Zed Key poked the ball away from Zach Edey with less than a minute to play and the Boilers needing two points to tie the score. Purdue ended up fouling Jamison Battle, who helped put the game away at the charity stripe.

Just moments before, Purdue rallied to overcome a seven-point deficit and tied the game 65-65 on Lance Jones’ clutch three-point jumper, but Battle answered with a 15-foot jumper to ensure that Ohio State would not fall behind. The Buckeyes were boosted by Battle’s 19 points on 6-for-8 shooting as well as 26 points from a bench effort led by Key and Dale Bonner. Purdue, meanwhile, got its usual great effort from Edey (22 points, 7-for-11 shooting, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks) but only four points from the bench. I still have no clue how Ethan Morton gets more than 10 minutes a game on team as talented as Purdue.

Ohio State interim head coach Jake Diebler made a great impression and he’ll have a case to keep the job full time with a few more wins down the stretch. I will feel very smart for talking about the potential of Ohio State’s young core if the team can upset Minnesota or Michigan State on the road.

Indiana blew a chance to join the bubble

Speaking of upsets, only one other Big Ten underdog won outright over the weekend. That was Northwestern defeating Indiana, but we can probably have a long argument over whether or not the Wildcats should have been considered the underdog in Bloomington. While they have been way more successful than Indiana this year and are projected to make the NCAA Tournament, Northwestern hasn’t impressed on the road. That’s why I saw this game as a great opportunity for Indiana to get a quality win and get into the bubble conversation. I should have known that the Hoosiers would waste it since they have shown so little heart and fight this season.

Indiana found a way to lose 76-72 while shooting 16 percent better than Northwestern (51 percent to 35 percent). It’s just another facepalm moment for Hoosiers fans who have suffered through a brutal campaign filled with disappointment after disappointment. Indiana lost the turnover battle 11-3 and the offensive rebounding battle 14-6 to the more disciplined and tougher Wildcats. Indiana shouldn’t be getting crushed on the glass like that in any game that Kel’el Ware plays 36 minutes in, but to Ware’s credit he collected 16 boards (four on offense) to go with his 22 points and four blocks. I guess no other Hoosiers wanted to rebound, so Nick Martinelli and Matthew Nicholson combined to create 10 second chances for Northwestern and they each had a double-double in this game.

The big star of the game for Northwestern, however, was Ryan Langborg. With Brooks Barnhizer and Boo Buie struggling for most of the game until Buie finally got going with eight straight points to put Indiana away, Langborg scored 26 points with six assists and zero turnovers while playing all 40 minutes. That’s the kind of effort the Wildcats need from the Princeton transfer down the stretch with Ty Berry missing the rest of the season due to injury.

Iowa makes its case for March Madness

While Indiana squandered its opportunity, the leading candidate for a seventh Big Ten team in the NCAA Tournament is now Iowa. The Hawkeyes picked up two huge wins over the last four days when they beat Wisconsin 88-86 in overtime on Saturday and followed that up with a big 78-71 road upset over Michigan State on Tuesday night. Just a week ago, Iowa had zero Quad 1 wins on its resume and now it has two. I’m still catching up with what a Quad 1 win is because I was just starting to figure out RPI when they got rid of that, but going from zero to two sounds like a big deal.

Even more impressive than Iowa’s recent results is that Fran McCaffery’s team got contributions from different players. In the home game against Wisconsin, it was all about Owen Freeman, Tony Perkins, and Josh Dix. Freeman was a force down low with 20 points scored on just six field goal attempts as well as 12 rebounds, six assists, and four blocks. It was the most complete game of the season for the likely Freshman of the Year in the Big Ten. Meanwhile, Dix was unstoppable from the mid-range with 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting while Perkins came up clutch down the stretch with 16 of his 18 points coming in the second half and overtime. He tied the score 78-78 with a driving left-handed layup at the end of regulation and then won it with one second left in overtime on another drive where he powered through a steal attempt by Chucky Hepburn.

The script was very different in East Lansing with Freeman only playing eight minutes due to foul trouble. Ben Krikke took over as the go-to guy down low and provided 18 points with 14 rebounds. Payton Sandfort only connected on two of his seven three-point attempts, but he did a great job getting to the basket and pacing Iowa’s transition offense with 22 points and six rebounds. During Iowa’s huge run at the end of the first half, Sandfort stole the ball and hit Patrick McCaffery for a breakaway dunk. The coach’s son would score 14 points off the bench and Iowa overcame a strong three-point shooting night by Michigan State with 51 percent overall shooting.

Iowa has a chance to pull off a third straight Quad 1 win when it visits Illinois on Saturday, and that promises to be another high-scoring affair played at a fast pace. A big game to watch this weekend!

Maryland is falling out of the at-large race

It looked like Maryland had the upper hand on Iowa to secure an NCAA Tournament bid when it came from behind to defeat the Hawkeyes last week, but since then the two programs’ fortunes have reversed. The Terps also had two chances at Quad 1 wins on Saturday and Tuesday, but they dropped both of them to Illinois and Wisconsin. Maryland’s hopes at an at-large bid are now dismal.

It’s not the Terps didn’t put up a fight. They were playing with heavy hearts against Illinois on Saturday following the death of legendary Maryland head coach Lefty Driesell, and while Kevin Willard’s bunch hung with the superior Illini throughout the second half, Illinois never surrendered the lead. Jahmir Young came awfully close, though, with around three minutes to play. Maryland was down by one and Coleman Hawkins tried to save his own rebound under the basket and blindly chuck the ball out to midcourt. Young was there to corral the wild pass, but his fast-break layup was thwarted by Marcus Domask’s defense. Justin Harmon picked the ball up and found Hawkins wide open on the other end of the court, where he dunked the ball and was fouled. Instead of Maryland taking a one-point lead, the Illini lead expanded to two possessions. That’s quite the swing in a game that was tight throughout, and the Terps didn’t get a better chance to pull even in the 85-80 defeat.

It was a tough loss for Maryland, not just because it needed the game, but because the Terps are usually in great shape when they get solid production from Young, Julian Reese, and Donta Scott in the same game. All three guys did their thing on Saturday, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Illinois’ deep offense led by the amazing Terrence Shannon Jr. who scored 27 points and went 14-for-16 at the free throw line.

Illinois as a team went 32-for-36 at the stripe, and Maryland ran into a similar problem when it traveled to Madison for Tuesday’s tilt with the Badgers. Wisconsin closed the first half with a 37-29 lead thanks to a three-point shot by Chucky Hepburn and led by two or more possessions for most of the second half. Once again, the Terps could not keep their opponent off the free throw line, and Wisconsin shot 28-for-31 from there with Max Klesmit, Tyler Wahl, and John Blackwell doing most of the damage. The foul shot barrage made it impossible for Maryland to make a solid dent in Wisconsin’s second half advantage, even with Young, Reese, and Scott combining for 50 points. Tyler Wahl and his 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting held keep the Terps at bay before Klesmit put them away with a three-point shot in the final minute. Badgers won 74-70, but I’m still not convinced they have pulled out of their February slump. I need to see them win their next two at Indiana and vs. Illinois at home before I can say they are ready for March.

The Penn State disaster

I’m trying to cover the entire Big Ten, but I’m also a huge Penn State fan, so I don’t even know if Kanye Clary being removed from the Nittany Lion program is news that resonates beyond me. He was just a sophomore and Penn State’s best player. He was a foundational piece that Mike Rhoades could have built a program around. Now he is gone and we don’t know why. Yes, you can always find a patch in the transfer portal, but Clary was shaping up to be the type of player that you don’t just find a patch for. The good news is that Ace Baldwin Jr. is doing a good job as the floor general, and he might come back as a graduate student for one more season. The bad news is that Baldwin has not shot the ball well during Penn State’s three-game losing streak and the most recent game at Nebraska was not close for the second half.

There’s not much to say about Nebraska from the 68-49 result. The Huskers took care of business at home like they always do and Keisei Tominaga hit a disgusting step-back three over Puff Johnson while leading Nebraska with 17 points. I guess it’s encouraging for Nebraska that it won handily while only shooting 4-for-21 from beyond the arc, but Penn State’s offense was so putrid that Zach Hicks led the team in scoring despite going 1-for-7 on his own three-point shots. I will be interested to see if Nebraska can finally win a conference road game tonight against the no-heart Hoosiers. Indiana is favored by one and a half as of this writing!

Penn State has Illinois at home and instead of the cavernous Bryce Jordan Center, the game will be played at Rec Hall, which will feel like an old-school basketball gym. The environment should give the Lions a better home-court advantage, but that probably still won’t be enough to make up for a big talent gap. The Illini are favored by seven and a half.

Best of the rest

Minnesota beat Rutgers 81-70 on Sunday, which ended a four-game winning streak for the Scarlet Knights. If Rutgers had come out on top, I might have to start considering them as a very dark horse to make a run on the bubble, but the Gophers helped me kick that can down the road with a fantastic offensive performance against one of the best defenses in the country. You just don’t see many teams shoot 51 percent against Rutgers, even in their own buildings. Minnesota turned the ball over 15 times, which helped Rutgers keep the game close in the first half, but the second half was all Gophers.

The Knights got 19 points each from Derek Simpson and Clifford Omoruyi, but Pharrel Payne had his best game of the season for Minnesota. Even with the Gophers shooting so well, Payne still found seven offensive rebounds and 11 total while scoring 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting with zero turnovers. If he can play like this more often, the frontcourt combo of Payne and Dawson Garcia will be a very tough one to deal with. Elijah Hawkins did a great job at point guard as well. He scored 16 points with six rebounds and seven assists. Minnesota as a team had 20 assists on 25 made baskets. Make Ben Johnson the Coach of the Year.

Finally, Michigan State handled Michigan 73-63 on Saturday night in Ann Arbor. The Spartans were dealing with a major upset scare, but the Wolverines failed to score for the final seven minutes while turning the ball over five times in a span of six possessions. That spurt of futility helped Michigan State close the game on a 10-0 and cover the spread in a game that looked like a disaster midway through the second half. With Sparty going on to lose at home against Iowa, we can now say this game said more about Michigan than Michigan State, and it said that Michigan is a tire fire.

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He really gums things up inside the paint… he can walk the walk, talk the talk, and block block block.

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Maryland Men’s Basketball just lost its standard-bearer and godfather today, with the passing of Coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell.
That man sold me on MD basketball the first time I saw him clap…. the way only Lefty could clap, and when
he assured us “Baby, I can coach”. No, the Terps never won it all under his reign, but his guys
did have plenty of powerful moments, and everybody … even Duke and the Heels learned to fear the turtle.
Lefty’s 1973 squad was a prime example… loaded with talent,
with plenty of heart, but just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Driesell had a way with words, and he could certainly sell, but at his core he
was much more…. a born leader.

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Wisconsin finally broke its four-game losing streak in very Wisconsin-like fashion on Tuesday night. It used solid defense and three-point shooting by Max Klesmit to close the first half on a 16-3 run that turned an 18-18 tie into a 34-21 advantage. Ohio State got within five points in the second half, but Chucky Hepburn answered with a three-point shot followed by a steal and a breakaway layup while the Buckeyes failed to score for seven straight minutes. When Bruce Thornton finally got his team back on the scoreboard with 1:36 to play, Hepburn responded with another triple to put the game away. Perhaps the most thrilling part of the game was Jamison Battle not scoring all game until he hit a three with 16 seconds left to cover the 9.5-point spread for Ohio State. Klesmit had a chance to expand the lead back to 10 points, but he missed the front end of a one-and-one and the Badgers settled for a 62-54 victory.

It wasn’t the most impressive win for Wisconsin since it came at home against Ohio State, but Greg Gard’s team will take what it can get after dropping games to Rutgers and Michigan on the road. The real excitement came on Wednesday when reports came out about Ohio State firing Chris Holtmann after six and a half seasons with the program. Holtmann made the NCAA Tournament four times (would have been five if not for the pandemic) in a row since taking over for Thad Matta in 2017. However, he never made the Sweet 16 and his highest seeded NCAA Tournament team was upset by Oral Roberts in the first round in 2021. 2023 was a disaster for Holtmann, as his team lost 14 of 15 games in the middle of conference play and finished 16-19 overall. It looked like everything would change this season, as Ohio State beat Alabama in November and improved to 12-2 when it defeated Rutgers on January 3. The Buckeyes have won just two games since, though, and athletic director Gene Smith has had enough of the losing.

I don’t blame Ohio State for expecting to make the NCAA Tournament every year. but I’m surprised Holtmann got fired when he has such a young and intriguing group of sophomores at the core of his team. Keeping a group of starters together for more than one season in today’s college basketball environment is rare, but I think Holtmann had something with Bruce Thornton, Roddy Gayle Jr., Felix Okpara, and Evan Mahaffey. They have not been winning much lately, but they are also playing in a league that’s full of fourth- and fifth-year players in the starting lineup. With the way they are all improving together as first-year starters, I wouldn’t be surprised if the group returned next season as juniors and finished in the top third of the Big Ten. With Holtmann gone, it’s more likely that the program will be reset under a new head coach who wants to bring in his own players.

In the other Big Ten game on Tuesday, Illinois destroyed Michigan 97-68 to bounce back from the loss it suffered at Michigan State on Saturday. It was a complete offensive performance by the Illini, and they shot 56 percent from the field as well as 48 percent from beyond the arc. Terrence Shannon Jr. played his best game since returning from suspension with 31 points on 11-for-15 shooting. Shannon is going to be impossible to stop when he’s knocking down three-point shots like he was against Michigan. There’s no way to close out on him without giving him a chance to explode to the rim.

With Holtmann out at Ohio State, there will now be more attention paid to Juwan Howard’s seat and how warm it’s getting in Ann Arbor. Howard got off to a hot start in his tenure with a run to the Elite Eight in 2021 with a team led by Hunter Dickinson and Franz Wagner, but the next season he barely made the NCAA Tournament as an 11 seed before saving face with a surprise Sweet 16 appearance. However, Howard is now about to go two straight seasons without a tourney appearance that became routine under John Beilein. No one is going to say anything right away because Howard is a Michigan legend from the Fab Five and he just had open heart surgery in September, but this season has been an embarrassment for Wolverine fans, and Beilein is just sitting there on Big Ten Network… awkward.

Kevin Willard was another coach that I thought was in trouble this season. He’s only in his second season at Maryland, but expectations were high and his team has been pitiful on offense for most of the season. Still, the Terps could easily be trending towards the NCAA Tournament right now if they had just defeated Rutgers at home and Ohio State on the road. They blew both of those winnable games, but got back on track with a 78-66 comeback win over Iowa on Wednesday. I was all set to finally write Maryland off for good when it fell behind by 10 points with 12 minutes left on a dunk by Owen Freeman, but Willard rallied the troops and they went on a 21-6 run over the next seven minutes. Jahmir Young and Julian Reese did most of the damage, and when the dust had cleared, Maryland was rolling away with a win that it desperately needed. The Terps shot 57 percent while outscoring Iowa 47-29 in the second half.

Willard has had major issues finding offensive production from the two spots in his lineup not filled by Young, Reese, and Donta Scott, but it looks like Deshawn Harris-Smith might finally be breaking out. He played a major role in the win over Iowa with 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting in 32 minutes off the bench. That would be a huge lift to Maryland’s offense if it could get that output more often from the freshman.

From the Iowa perspective, this was a game that could have gone a long way towards its own tourney hopes. The Hawkeyes did not shoot well after the break, and Tony Perkins had a poor night against Maryland’s tough defense. You can usually count on the senior point guard for 15 to 20 points, but he scored just nine in College Park on 3-for-13 shooting. Also, Ben Krikke can apparently only score against my Nittany Lions. In the two games since he exploded for 22 points in Happy Valley, Krikke has combined for just 17 points. He looked like Iowa’s best player back in November, but he’s been very quiet in some of these Big Ten games. With the next three games against Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Illinois, Iowa’s NCAA Tournament hopes are looking bleak.

Also on Wednesday night, Penn State lost at home to Michigan State 80-72. The game wasn’t really that close, as the Spartans led by double digits for almost all of the second half. They first started to pull away in the first half when Penn State turnovers led to some easy transition buckets for Michigan State. With four wins in its last five games, Tom Izzo’s team is rounding into form, and this win was especially encouraging because Tyson Walker and A.J. Hoggard combined for just 10 points. Michigan State still shot 51 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range thanks to Malik Hall posting his best game of the season and Jaden Akins pouring on 20 points. Hall is such an important player for the Spartans because he’s their only consistent post threat on a team that plays three guards for most of the time. Hall’s talents were on full display against my Nittany Lions as he showed off his scoring in the post and his ability to stretch out the defense and shoot from mid-range and beyond. A brand like Michigan State doesn’t sneak up on anyone, but this team seems to be peaking at the right time and it could end up with a deceptively low seed in March.

For Penn State, it sucks to lose that badly when you have good shooting nights like we got from Zach Hicks (5-for-6 from deep) and Nick Kern (2-for-2 from deep, 6-for-7 overall), but getting stops was a major issue and 15 turnovers was too much when Michigan State was looking to run off of every change in possession. Ace Baldwin Jr. and D’Marco Dunn both played poorly, and that won’t lead to wins while Kanye Clary is still on the mend. Clary at least looked a little healthier against Sparty with eight points and five assists in 23 minutes. Maybe this weekend he can return to the starting lineup.

This weekend promises to be another exciting one in the Big Ten with all 14 teams in action, but Thursday wasn’t so bad either. The night started with Northwestern visiting Rutgers and we got to see just how far Boo Buie can carry a team. Not only did we learn before the game that Ty Berry would miss the rest of the season with a torn meniscus, but Ryan Langborg was ejected on a Flagrant 2 foul in the first half when he elbowed Jamichael Davis in the ball sack. Chris Collins already ran a pretty shallow rotation, so now he had to dust off freshman guard Jordan Clayton and Justin Mullins, a sophomore wing who transferred from Denver.

Northwestern fans have apparently been clamoring for Collins to play Mullins more all season. He showed off some skill and athleticism with eight points and four blocked shots while Boo Buie proved that it really is possible to shoot well inside Jersey Mike’s Arena. He led the Wildcats to a 34-27 halftime lead and finished with 27 points on 6-for-10 shooting from beyond the arc. Unfortunately, Buie only had one assist because no one else on his team could hit a shot. With Berry and Langborg out, Northwestern needed Brooks Barnhizer and Nick Martinelli to step up, but they combined to shoot 6-for-24 and score 17 points.

Despite the offensive struggles, Northwestern held off Rutgers for much of the second half. It looked like the Scarlet Knights were taking control when Clifford Omoruyi took a Derek Simpson pass and slammed the ball home while being fouled by Martinelli. The subsequent free throw tied the score at 44-44, but Northwestern countered with seven straight points. However, the Wildcats ended up being stuck on 51 points for more than six minutes while Rutgers rallied past them and took the lead on Simpson’s pull-up jumper with five minutes to play. The Knights would lead by as many as five, but Northwestern fought back and tied the game when Barnhizer knocked down a wide open three thanks to a defensive collapse by Rutgers. The Wildcats could not build on it, though. Aundre Hyatt answered with a triple of his own to send the fans home happy with a 63-60 Rutgers victory.

The Knights have now won four straight games since Jeremiah Williams made his season debut on February 3. Williams does a little bit of everything and his steady hand at point guard allows Simpson to work off the ball more. Against Northwestern, Williams led the Knights with 15 points and five assists while adding five rebounds and three blocks.

Our last Big Ten game before the weekend featured Minnesota and Purdue. I thought I would be able to turn it off early based on how dominant the Boilers have been at Mackey Arena, but the Gophers nearly pulled off the biggest upset of the conference slate. This game was wild with both teams leading by 10 points at different times. Purdue jumped out to a 16-5 lead in the first five minutes on a Lance Jones three-point shot, but Minnesota got hot from beyond the arc and stormed back to take an eight-point lead at halftime. The Boilers fell behind by 10 on the first possession of the second half thanks to Pharrel Payne’s layup, but they would never trail by more than that. Minnesota’s three-point shooting cooled off and Mason Gillis came up big off the bench for Purdue with four three-point field goals and three assists throughout the game.

Dawson Garcia got hurt in the brutal collapse against Iowa, but he looked perfectly healthy in this one and scored 24 points while refusing to let the Gophers fade away. They closed within two points with four minutes to play, but Edey and Gillis countered with clutch buckets to finally close the door on Minnesota and keep Purdue undefeated at home this season.

Weekend of hoops

Has Wisconsin truly righted the ship after defeating the lowly Buckeyes? We’ll find out when the Badgers visit Iowa on Saturday to face a Hawkeyes team that cannot afford to lose. Like Iowa, Maryland is another squad that has a chance to defeat a ranked opponent at home and boost its NCAA Tournament chances. The Terps get a stiff test with Illinois in town.

On Sunday, Minnesota looks to bounce back from two tough road losses with a home game against Rutgers, but can the Scarlet Knights be cooled off? We’ll also get to see if Indiana can stick in the NCAA Tournament conversation. The Hoosiers can give their resume a boost by beating Northwestern, and the Wildcats have proven to be vulnerable on the road even with Ty Berry in the lineup.

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Whether you loved or hated last week’s result, this week’s “Helter-Skelce” CDST Show may well be just the cathartic cleanse the Dr. ordered. This week we welcome Abe Miranda to the Hermosa Beach studios, along with Kansas City Chiefs superfan cousin Wayne, the Pickle Ball king of Lee’s Summit, who’s sitting on top of the world after this year’s title run. We’ll break down last week’s game, along with college b-ball and the NBA. Plus a little more Travis than you may have bargained for.

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I thought Michigan State had a chance to be a home underdog against Illinois on Saturday afternoon. The Illini might be ranked 10th in the AP Poll, but Michigan State is not far behind in terms of talent and it was playing at home. I was ready to jump all over the Spartans if the line was close to zero. It’s hard to fool the books, though. Michigan State was favored by three and a half when I checked in on Saturday morning. I said “screw it” and took Sparty anyway. Tom Izzo’s team was rounding into form and needed this win for its NCAA Tournament resume.

Laying the points didn’t look like a great decision for much of the afternoon, especially when Marcus Domask knocked down a three-point shot to put Illinois ahead 72-64 with less than eight minutes to play. The Spartans owned the rest of the game, though. A.J. Hoggard stepped up with a three of his own in transition and then scored three the old fashioned way with a great head fake on Coleman Hawkins in the paint. The “and one” free throw tied the score at 72-72, but Michigan State wasn’t done. Malik Hall hit a big driving layup plus the foul to put Sparty ahead, and Tyson Walker stole the ball and put in a breakaway layup to help his team pull away and win 88-80. Great teams cover.

It was a rare performance by Michigan State that saw the Big Three of Walker, Hoggard, and Hall all play like a Big Three at the same time. Hoggard and Hall combined for 45 points with Hall going 7-for-9 from the field and Hoggard adding five assists. That meant that Walker didn’t have to break his back carrying the offense. The effort by Sparty was enough to overcome a 28-point, 7-rebound effort from Terrence Shannon Jr. Illinois might have been a little too perimeter-oriented in this one with half of its field goal attempts coming from three-point range. While the Illini shot 11-for-30 from beyond the arc, Michigan State got work done in the paint while going 5-for-8 from downtown. Efficiency!

The only other exciting game on Saturday came from a surprising place: Columbus, Ohio! Maryland had a chance to pick up an impressive road win against an Ohio State squad that is every bubble team’s dream. That’s because the Buckeyes are a lousy team that for some reason has a strong NET rating. Beating them will look good to the nerds on the NCAA Tournament selection committee even though it’s not that hard to do so. Even my Nittany Lions beat Ohio State (although we also lost to them on the road). Sounds like a great opportunity for the Terps, right! That is correct, but Maryland blew it anyway even though Ohio State only led for five minutes during the game that ended up going into double overtime.

It was a duel between shoot-first point guards as Jahmir Young and Bruce Thornton posted nearly identical stat lines. Young scored 26 points points with seven rebounds and four assists while Thornton had 24 points, seven rebounds, and four assists while shooting a better percentage. It was Thornton who was the most clutch performer, as well. He tied the game at 61-61 on a three-point shot with one minute left in regulation and also tied the score at 71-71 with a layup near the end of the first overtime. On both occasions, Maryland had a chance following Thornton’s equalizer to take the lead with free throws, but both times the Terps failed miserably. Donta Scott, who otherwise had a solid game with 19 points on 5-for-9 shooting, missed a pair at the end of the second half and Julian Reese clanked both of his at the end of the first overtime.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Maryland had a chance to send the game to triple overtime after Thornton came up big again and gave the Buckeyes a 77-75 lead, but Scott’s layup attempt was blocked by Zed Key. That led to a breakaway for Ohio State and a thunderous dunk by Roddy Gayle Jr. that put the game away. Brutal, brutal loss for the Terrapins.

Blowouts galore

The rest of the Saturday slate was filled with three blowouts, but at least one of them was somewhat surprising. I thought Wisconsin had a decent chance to end its three-game losing streak at Rutgers, but the beatings will continue for the Badgers as they fell 78-56 thanks to a surprisingly hot shooting day from the Scarlet Knights. They went 10-for-17 from beyond the arc with half the makes coming from Noah Fernandes, who has been very inconsistent this season. On Saturday, he was as consistent as you can possibly be, going 6-for-6 from the field for 17 points off the bench. Wisconsin fell behind 9-0 right from the jump and appeared rattled by the arena formerly known as the RAC. The Badgers had 11 of their 12 turnovers come in the first half and fell behind 37-28 at the break.

The second half didn’t go any better for Wisconsin thanks to Clifford Omoruyi blocking eight shots and grabbing 13 rebounds. That defense helped limit Steven Crowl and Tyler Wahl to seven points each, and we just blogged last week about how Wisconsin needs to get more out of Wahl to snap this skid. While the Badgers are scuffling, the Knights are surging with three straight wins since my Lions crushed them by 15 points. A big reason why is the return of Jeremiah Williams, who missed all of last season with an Achilles injury at Iowa State and 20 games of this season due to a gambling suspension. Rutgers is still glad they called that guy, because he has scored in double figures in all three of his appearances, which have coincided with the winning streak. Against Wisconsin, Williams led Rutgers with 18 points and seven assists.

The other two blowouts weren’t of the upset variety. Purdue and Nebraska both destroyed their feeble opponents by the score of 79-59, and both games weren’t really that close. Purdue beat Indiana so badly that Zach Edey fired off a three-point shot in the second half, and it went in off the backboard for his first career three-point field goal. The Hoosiers got a boost before the game when Kel’el Ware was healthy enough to play, and his dunk made the score 20-18 Purdue midway through the first half, but the Boilers went to break on a 15-1 run and exploded out of halftime with 10 more consecutive points to end the competitive portion of the contest. It was the first time since 1993-94 that Purdue has defeated Indiana twice in a season by 20 or more points. As ugly that is for Indiana, it can reenter the NCAA Tournament discussion if it wins its next two games against Northwestern and Nebraska. Both games are at Assembly Hall, and both opponents have struggled mightily on the road this season.

I supposed that brings us to Nebraska’s win over Michigan. The Huskers ended any sort of confidence boost the Wolverines might have gotten from their upset of Wisconsin and continued home dominance in Pinnacle Bank Arena. Nebraska went up by double digits in the first seven minutes and led by 30 within 15 minutes. It was never close. Keisei Tominaga led everyone with 19 points and shot 8-for-14 from the field while Michigan as a team shot 32 percent. Olivier Nkamhoua had just three points on 1-for-10 shooting.

Not so fun Sunday

Sunday proved me right when it came to not entertaining any NCAA Tournament talk for Penn State. We lost 68-63 at Northwestern despite holding the Wildcats to 32 percent shooting. Remember, that’s what Michigan shot when it lost to Nebraska by a million. The rebounding monster reared its ugly head again for the Nittany Lions. Northwestern grabbed 13 of its missed compared to just three offensive boards for Penn State. Ty Berry was out of action for the Wildcats, but Kanye Clary is still clearly bothered by whatever injury he has because he went 0-for-3 with 0 points in just 14 minutes off the bench. Ace Baldwin Jr. continued to carry the load at point guard, but his shooting cooled off. He went 4-for-13 from the field and did not make a three until it was too late for the Lions to come back.

The silver lining for Penn State was Nick Kern Jr.’s great performance. He has shown the ability to get to the rim all season, but he really flashed it on Sunday with 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting to go with seven rebounds and three assists. With four minutes to play, Baldwin stole the ball and set up Kern with a breakaway layup to bring Penn State to within a point at 54-53, but Northwestern got its act together following a timeout. First, Ryan Langborg got wide open for a three-point shot that turned a one-score game into a two-score game. Then, Baldwin through the ball away. The Wildcats got it back and Matthew Nicholson got a free path for a dunk when Qudus Wahab was too aggressive defending what he thought was a hand-off to Boo Buie.

Even the best teams have trouble in Welsh-Ryan Arena this season, but it is still a stinging loss for Penn State because the game was close late and you have to take advantage of a rare poor shooting game from Buie and company.

At least Penn State’s loss was not as bad as Minnesota’s loss at Iowa later in the afternoon. The Gophers went up 62-42 on a Mike Mitchell Jr. three-point shot with 16 minutes left, but then Dawson Garcia left the game due to injury and everything fell apart for the road team. Garcia was having a ridiculous game with 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting, seven rebounds, three assists, and two blocks. That is beyond dominant in just 25 minutes of game, but a 20-point lead is a 20-point lead and Minnesota still blew it. Payton Sandfort and Patrick McCaffery were the two biggest factors in Iowa’s wild comeback with Sandfort giving the Hawkeyes a 78-77 lead on a driving layup with four and a half minutes left. He followed that up with a three-point shot to cap a 16-0 Iowa run and the Gophers did not recover. Iowa won 90-85 with Minnesota only covering the 7.5-point spread because Mitchell hit a “meaningless” three-point shot in the final seconds. I don’t even know if that’s a bad beat for Iowa backers or a narrowly-avoided bad beat for Minnesota backers. Going from being up 20 in the second half to not covering a three-possession spread would be upsetting to say the least.

The week of ball

The Big Ten is back in action on Tuesday night with Michigan visiting Illinois and Ohio State heading to Wisconsin. The Illini are expected to hammer Michigan while the Badgers are still looking to break that losing streak. Ohio State is as good a team as there is for that to happen, but Wisconsin has had trouble with attacking guards like Kanye Clary and Dug McDaniel, and Bruce Thornton is a similar type of player. On the other hand, three of the four Wisconsin losses in this streak have come on the road, with only Purdue defeating the Badgers in Madison. Wisconsin has to take care of business tonight.

Wednesday features Michigan State at Penn State and Iowa at Maryland. The Lions have been tough at home, but it feels like Sparty is gearing up for March, so I think Tom Izzo’s team wins a close one. Iowa and Maryland are two teams that are running out of chances to make a run at the NCAA Tournament, and whoever loses this one will be heartbroken. I will go with Maryland’s defense and home court over Iowa’s offense.

On Thursday Northwestern looks to prove itself on the road against Rutgers and if the Knights win, we might have to pay some serious attention to them. On the other hand, their non-conference resume is almost as weak as Penn State’s, so I will probably have to pump the brakes on them as well. Keep watching Jeremiah Williams because he is a major factor in Rutgers’ turnaround. In the other Thursday game, Minnesota should get destroyed by Purdue, especially if Dawson Garcia is ruled out. If it gets out of hand, I will look for Edey to try another three and prop up his NBA Draft stock.

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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates after the NFL Super Bowl 58 football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in Las Vegas. The Kansas City Chiefs won 25-22 against the San Francisco 49ers. (AP Photo/John Locher)

SF didn’t close the barn door, and look what crept through… talk about getting shot by the foot, or on the foot… a title vanishes for the 0 for 3 in the 21st Century Niners, when the offense goes to sleep for just a little too long. And it was the little things, like kicking and special teams, along with having the best player on your side, that made all the difference. KC may well have made that touchdown on the final drive of regulation… we’ll never know. All we know is that missed extra point meant the Chiefs got into overtime, and that was all they needed. And yes, 3 in 4 years does make a dynasty.

 

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Ain’t a good idea to miss CDST’s “Ain’t That a Wonderment” Show….

Take some time, after the Super Bowl and before the Tournament, to go back in your mind to the days when you woke pampered, protected and primed for creating you own play-by-play. Abe the Babe, ChabDog and his Uncle Abie, Well-read, DD and Get the Sensation Yorke invite you the “Ain’t That a Wonderment?” CDST Show. Taking stock of some hockey, as all those teams really start to jockey, the NBA finally gets off the pine built during the force-fed All-Star Break, and of course, it’s time to teach ourselves some college basketball….

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Well Read’s Posts

Abe’s Posts

Abe’s Super Bowl LVIII Pick

FUCK YOU JACKSON MAHOMES, FUCK YOU TRAVIS KELCE & FUCK YOU TAYLOR SWIFT YOU FUCKING SCUMBAGS

SAN FRANCISCO -2 & HERE’S MY BETTING SLIP

(Courtesy of BetMGM Sports)

| | @darthvaber99

 

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Week 18: Abe’s Scrumdidilyumptious NFL Picks (AST)

Hello everyone and welcome to another Chabdog Sports Blog of me making scrumdidilyumptious NFL picks based on very flawed science, numbies based solely on Taylor Swift’s game attendance, and a spidey sense that may or may not be functioning well based on the amount and quality of tacos I ate today since my current record is:

Week 1: 6 Week 2: 8 Week 3: 6 Week 4: 8 Week 5: 6 Week 6: 11 Week 7: 4 Week 8: 7 Week 9: 10 Week 10: 9 Week 11: Week 12: 9 Week 13: 7 Week 14: 7 Week 15: 3 Week 16:Week 17: 8

SATURDAY PICKS

 STEELERS -3 | RAVENS

TEXANS -1 | COLTS

SUNDAE PICKS

  BUCCANEERS -4.5 | PANTHERS

  BROWNS | BENGALS -7

  VIKINGS | LIONS -3.5

  JETS | PATRIOTS -1.5

  FALCONS | SAINTS -2.5

  JAGUARS -3.5 | TITANS

  SEAHAWKS -3.5 | CARDINALS

  BEARS | PACKERS -2.5

  CHIEFS +3.5 | CHARGERS

  BRONCOS | RAIDERS -2.5

  EAGLES -4.5 | GIANTS

  RAMS | 49ERS +4

  COWBOYS COMMANDERS +12.5

  BILLS -2.5 | DOLPHINS

*All odds courtesy of Bet MGM on 01/05/2024

Let me know in the comments your thoughts below, or where posted on the socials

| | @darthvaber99

 

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Dorothy’s Posts

Aaron’s Posts

Ohio State did it again and Iowa’s missed opportunity

I really thought Ohio State was done with the upsets after it stunned Purdue two weekends ago in interim head coach Jake Diebler’s debut, but on Sunday, the Buckeyes pulled off yet another shocker. They went into East Lansing as 10-point underdogs and beat Michigan State 60-57 with the margin of victory coming on a last-second three-point heave by Dale Bonner. Just moments earlier, Tyson Walker had a chance to put Michigan State ahead with a fair of free throws, but he somehow wedged his first attempt in between the backboard and the rim. Walker had to settle for a tie with his second free throw, but Bonner’s clutch bomb ensured that it didn’t matter.

Ohio State is now 2-1 since Chris Holtmann was fired, and I feel a little bad for him even though he is technically on a paid vacation right now. These kinds of wins are what Ohio State was building towards with its young lineup, and against Michigan State, it was even younger than usually due to Jamison Battle missing the game with an ankle injury. Freshman Scotty Middleton replaced Battle to give Ohio State all underclassman in the starting five. The Buckeyes certainly missed Battle’s three-point prowess, as they went 3-for-17 from beyond the arc in the low-scoring affair, but the Spartans had their own shooting issues and shot just 4-for-16 from that range, including 1-for-9 from Tyson Walker and Jaden Akins.

Still, Michigan State appeared to have the game under control with a 12-point lead and 11 minutes on the clock, but Devin Royal came off the bench for Ohio State and proved to be an unlikely hero alongside Felix Okpara. The pair of big men led the Buckeyes on the comeback trail and closed to within one point at 52-51 with six minutes left, setting the stage for the exciting conclusion. Royal, another freshman, showed off his post moves and mid-range game while scoring 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting in just 18 minutes. Okpara added 10 points and six rebounds, with four coming on offense.

No matter who is the head coach for Ohio State next year, the team has a bright future with all the young talent that has emerged this season. If the roster doesn’t fall apart, it should be a very desirable job since whoever gets it will be in line for massive improvement without having to do much. Michigan State, meanwhile, looked like it was a lock for the NCAA Tournament a week ago, but back-to-back home losses over teams with worse records have put the Spartans’ postseason status in doubt. It doesn’t help that their next game is on Saturday at Purdue.

read more…

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Penn State’s thrilling win in Rec Hall and Indiana gets cooked

We’ve been saying for years that Penn State Basketball would be a more impressive television product if the home arena wasn’t the Bryce Jordan Center. The giant arena is way too big for a program that strives to be in the middle of the Big Ten standings in a good year. When Penn State plays in the Palestra or at Rec Hall, it looks like a proper basketball program, and sometimes it even plays like one. Wednesday night was one of those nights with Illinois in town. However, for most of the night, it looked like a typical 2024 Penn State loss. The Lions got off to a hot start on offense, but then fizzled and struggled to keep pace with the talented Illini because of their failure to grab a rebound on defense. Illinois often doesn’t need second chances, especially with Terrence Shannon Jr. playing like he did, but it got 19 of them, with the Swiss Army Knife Ty Rodgers grabbing five offensive boards. That helped make up for 18 Illinois turnovers that Penn State needed just to keep the game respectable while Shannon was going off for a career-high 35 points on 10-for-18 shooting.

Another reason why Penn State only trailed by 10 points with two and a half minutes left was Nick Kern Jr. He has shown some upside with his athleticism this season, but again Illinois he got to the basket at will. At one point in the second half, Kern scored 13 straight Penn State points, and he finished with a season-high 22. Now that Kanye Clary is out of the picture, I’m hoping that Kern can stick around for one or two more seasons and develop into a star, but to do that he needs to expand his range past 10 feet from the basket.

Anyway, Zach Hicks hit a mid-range shot to cut the deficit to eight points, and then the Illinois collapse began. Shannon drove into the paint and kicked the ball to the corner to set up Luke Goode with a wide-open dagger three. With the way Goode shoots the ball, that should be a layup for him, but he missed, and Hicks answered with a triple for Penn State to cut the lead to five. However, Illinois was still in great shape after two free throws from Marcus Domask and a missed three by Ace Baldwin Jr. Now the Illini were up by seven points with less than a minute left. Shannon tried a runner in the paint, but it bounced out and Jameel Brown took advantage by crushing a three-point shot in transition. Brown’s next play was even bigger, though, because Penn State needed a turnover to make it a one-possession game. Brown came through by stripping Shannon of the ball, which led to an easy layup for Puff Johnson. All of a sudden, the Lions trailed by just two with 30 seconds left.

read more…

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Purdue upset by Ohio State and Penn State loses Kanye Clary

I almost feel bad for Purdue fans even though they have a tremendous basketball team that will probably make the Final Four. No matter what the Boilers do in the regular season, there is nothing they can do to change their reputation as a team that collapses in the big moment. The only way to do that is to win in the NCAA Tournament. Whenever Purdue slips up this season, the doubters and haters (Indiana fans) come out of the woodwork to say “this is what will happen in March.”

I have said since November when Purdue won the Maui Invitational that this team reminds me of the 2019 Virginia team that bounced back and won the national championship after losing to a 16 seed the year before. Maybe Purdue will fulfill that prophecy, or maybe it will hilariously disappoint its rabid fans once again. On Sunday in Columbus, Matt Painter’s team gave us a preview of March or a blip on the radar, depending on your perspective. Despite shooting 20-for-20 from the free throw line and dominating the offensive glass like they always do, the Boilers lost 73-69 to an Ohio State team that was playing its first game since head coach Chris Holtmann was fired.

It didn’t help that Purdue turned the ball over 14 times, most notably when Zed Key poked the ball away from Zach Edey with less than a minute to play and the Boilers needing two points to tie the score. Purdue ended up fouling Jamison Battle, who helped put the game away at the charity stripe.

Just moments before, Purdue rallied to overcome a seven-point deficit and tied the game 65-65 on Lance Jones’ clutch three-point jumper, but Battle answered with a 15-foot jumper to ensure that Ohio State would not fall behind. The Buckeyes were boosted by Battle’s 19 points on 6-for-8 shooting as well as 26 points from a bench effort led by Key and Dale Bonner. Purdue, meanwhile, got its usual great effort from Edey (22 points, 7-for-11 shooting, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks) but only four points from the bench. I still have no clue how Ethan Morton gets more than 10 minutes a game on team as talented as Purdue.

Ohio State interim head coach Jake Diebler made a great impression and he’ll have a case to keep the job full time with a few more wins down the stretch. I will feel very smart for talking about the potential of Ohio State’s young core if the team can upset Minnesota or Michigan State on the road.

Indiana blew a chance to join the bubble

Speaking of upsets, only one other Big Ten underdog won outright over the weekend. That was Northwestern defeating Indiana, but we can probably have a long argument over whether or not the Wildcats should have been considered the underdog in Bloomington. While they have been way more successful than Indiana this year and are projected to make the NCAA Tournament, Northwestern hasn’t impressed on the road. That’s why I saw this game as a great opportunity for Indiana to get a quality win and get into the bubble conversation. I should have known that the Hoosiers would waste it since they have shown so little heart and fight this season.

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Ohio State fires Chris Holtmann and Maryland wins a bubble battle

Wisconsin finally broke its four-game losing streak in very Wisconsin-like fashion on Tuesday night. It used solid defense and three-point shooting by Max Klesmit to close the first half on a 16-3 run that turned an 18-18 tie into a 34-21 advantage. Ohio State got within five points in the second half, but Chucky Hepburn answered with a three-point shot followed by a steal and a breakaway layup while the Buckeyes failed to score for seven straight minutes. When Bruce Thornton finally got his team back on the scoreboard with 1:36 to play, Hepburn responded with another triple to put the game away. Perhaps the most thrilling part of the game was Jamison Battle not scoring all game until he hit a three with 16 seconds left to cover the 9.5-point spread for Ohio State. Klesmit had a chance to expand the lead back to 10 points, but he missed the front end of a one-and-one and the Badgers settled for a 62-54 victory.

It wasn’t the most impressive win for Wisconsin since it came at home against Ohio State, but Greg Gard’s team will take what it can get after dropping games to Rutgers and Michigan on the road. The real excitement came on Wednesday when reports came out about Ohio State firing Chris Holtmann after six and a half seasons with the program. Holtmann made the NCAA Tournament four times (would have been five if not for the pandemic) in a row since taking over for Thad Matta in 2017. However, he never made the Sweet 16 and his highest seeded NCAA Tournament team was upset by Oral Roberts in the first round in 2021. 2023 was a disaster for Holtmann, as his team lost 14 of 15 games in the middle of conference play and finished 16-19 overall. It looked like everything would change this season, as Ohio State beat Alabama in November and improved to 12-2 when it defeated Rutgers on January 3. The Buckeyes have won just two games since, though, and athletic director Gene Smith has had enough of the losing.

I don’t blame Ohio State for expecting to make the NCAA Tournament every year. but I’m surprised Holtmann got fired when he has such a young and intriguing group of sophomores at the core of his team. Keeping a group of starters together for more than one season in today’s college basketball environment is rare, but I think Holtmann had something with Bruce Thornton, Roddy Gayle Jr., Felix Okpara, and Evan Mahaffey. They have not been winning much lately, but they are also playing in a league that’s full of fourth- and fifth-year players in the starting lineup. With the way they are all improving together as first-year starters, I wouldn’t be surprised if the group returned next season as juniors and finished in the top third of the Big Ten. With Holtmann gone, it’s more likely that the program will be reset under a new head coach who wants to bring in his own players.

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Michigan State gets a big win and Bruce Thornton rescues Ohio State in double overtime

I thought Michigan State had a chance to be a home underdog against Illinois on Saturday afternoon. The Illini might be ranked 10th in the AP Poll, but Michigan State is not far behind in terms of talent and it was playing at home. I was ready to jump all over the Spartans if the line was close to zero. It’s hard to fool the books, though. Michigan State was favored by three and a half when I checked in on Saturday morning. I said “screw it” and took Sparty anyway. Tom Izzo’s team was rounding into form and needed this win for its NCAA Tournament resume.

Laying the points didn’t look like a great decision for much of the afternoon, especially when Marcus Domask knocked down a three-point shot to put Illinois ahead 72-64 with less than eight minutes to play. The Spartans owned the rest of the game, though. A.J. Hoggard stepped up with a three of his own in transition and then scored three the old fashioned way with a great head fake on Coleman Hawkins in the paint. The “and one” free throw tied the score at 72-72, but Michigan State wasn’t done. Malik Hall hit a big driving layup plus the foul to put Sparty ahead, and Tyson Walker stole the ball and put in a breakaway layup to help his team pull away and win 88-80. Great teams cover.

It was a rare performance by Michigan State that saw the Big Three of Walker, Hoggard, and Hall all play like a Big Three at the same time. Hoggard and Hall combined for 45 points with Hall going 7-for-9 from the field and Hoggard adding five assists. That meant that Walker didn’t have to break his back carrying the offense. The effort by Sparty was enough to overcome a 28-point, 7-rebound effort from Terrence Shannon Jr. Illinois might have been a little too perimeter-oriented in this one with half of its field goal attempts coming from three-point range. While the Illini shot 11-for-30 from beyond the arc, Michigan State got work done in the paint while going 5-for-8 from downtown. Efficiency!

The only other exciting game on Saturday came from a surprising place: Columbus, Ohio! Maryland had a chance to pick up an impressive road win against an Ohio State squad that is every bubble team’s dream. That’s because the Buckeyes are a lousy team that for some reason has a strong NET rating. Beating them will look good to the nerds on the NCAA Tournament selection committee even though it’s not that hard to do so. Even my Nittany Lions beat Ohio State (although we also lost to them on the road). Sounds like a great opportunity for the Terps, right! That is correct, but Maryland blew it anyway even though Ohio State only led for five minutes during the game that ended up going into double overtime.

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