While the slate was certainly not loaded by any means, there were definitely some intriguing matchups. Purdue played a crucial matchup that will likely lead to them reaching #1 in the polls, while Kansas and Illinois rolled. All of this and more are broken down in the daily roundup.
Purdue seems poised to take #1 ranking with win against Iowa
It wasn’t the prettiest game for Purdue, they may have looked vulnerable, but in the end, they got a historical 77-70 win against Iowa. With Duke losing earlier in the week, Purdue seemed poised to move to the #1 ranking in next Monday’s poll, which would be the first time in program history. The Boilermakers jumped out to a large lead thanks to great play from Jaden Ivey. Iowa went to a full-court press, which allowed Iowa to force a lot of turnovers and cut the lead down to 2, but ultimately Purdue prevailed. The Boilermakers certainly seemed vulnerable, the turnovers were an issue, especially with most of them being live-ball turnovers. That said, Purdue is deserving of their #1 ranking so long as they remain undefeated.
Braun powers Kansas to runaway win at St. John’s
In the first basketball game in UBS Arena, Kansas traveled to take on a quality St. John’s team. In the end, Kansas used a late 22-3 run to take control of the game. The Jayhawks got off to a good start, playing through McCormack in the post early on, although Julian Champagnie got it going and cut the lead down to 64-61. Then St. John’s seemingly forgot how to score the basketball, while Kansas continued to thrive on the offensive end. We still have a lot to figure out with both teams as the season goes along, but Kansas’ offense looked outstanding. Christian Braun has taken a huge step forward, he’s getting to the rim and scoring with ease, using his athleticism and knocking down threes. Ochai Agbaji continues to be a high-level scorer, while they still haven’t even gotten the best out of Remy Martin or Jalen Wilson.
Illinois rolls through Rutgers
As 9.5 point favorites coming into this game, the Illini were expected to win this game somewhat handily but they exceeded expectations to a dramatic extent. Alfonso Plummer continues to be one of the more underrated transfers in the sport, as he scored 24 points in this game. Kofi Cockburn did Kofi Cockburn things, scoring 13 points and adding 15 rebounds while controlling the paint. When André Curbelo does come back, it might not be the worst idea to keep Plummer in the starting lineup, as he’s a better floor-spacer and scorer, which is what Illinois needs right now.
Gardner’s shot gives Virginia win against Pittsburgh
In what was a game that was probably way too close for Virginia fans, the Cavaliers escaped with a 57-56 win against Pittsburgh thanks to a game-winning jumper from Jayden Gardner. The Cavaliers were down 56-52 and looked dead in the water, then Jayden Garnder got a clutch and one, Pittsburgh fell victim to a backcourt violation, and Garnder hit the Kawhi Leonard-like jumper as it hit every part of the rim before dropping in. Despite the win, this Virginia team continues to look less than stellar as they were unable to put away a bad Pittsburgh team. Sure a win is a win, but this win does nothing to help Virginia either.
Earl Grant gets first win in ACC play
Notre Dame came to Chestnut Hill to play Boston College in what ended up being a surprising result as Boston College ran Notre Dame out of the gym, winning 73-57. James Karnik had a huge game with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while TJ Bickerstaff had 14 in this game. Many people came into this season questioning the hiring of Earl Grant, mostly due to his lack of coaching in the Northeast. That said, he has done about as good as you could ask for thus far, making this team competitive entering ACC play. As for Notre Dame, this team just doesn’t defend well enough for them to be an NCAA Tournament team.