Thursday gave us the premier mid-major matchup of the season and it lived up and more than lived up to the hype. That will be the main headline to start the daily roundup, while we’ll get into some other games around the sport.
Loyola-Chicago tops San Francisco in mid-major showcase
Earlier this week, San Francisco was scheduled to play Gonzaga but with the Bulldogs having Covid issues, that game was scrapped and made place for the premier mid-major matchup of the season, as San Francisco took on Loyola-Chicago in Salt Lake City. This matchup had lots of intrigue, the two programs both have NCAA Tournament expectations, both have young head coaches and the game was played at noon local time on a Thursday.
The game delivered everything you could imagine, it was a high-scoring game with both teams shooting over 50% from the floor, the game had its large amount of tough shot-making and most importantly both teams looked the part of a legitimate NCAA Tournament team. The game was close throughout with San Francisco leading by one at the half. In the second half, it was Loyola-Chicago who could not be stopped, seemingly having a response for every Dons’ basket, they were never able to pull away but held the lead comfortably and held on to win 79-74. It was Ryan Schwieger who had the signature performance, scoring 24 points off the bench while shooting 9-10 from the floor and 3-4 from deep. His shot-making was key as Loyola-Chicago was able to have the offensive firepower to match a Dons team that was having a good offensive performance.
Both teams should be in good shape to get a potential at-large bid following this game. Loyola-Chicago should win the Missouri Valley rather easily but now are 10-2 with a quadrant one win against San Francisco on their resumé. The Dons don’t get hurt by this loss, sure a quadrant one win would have obviously helped their cause but should they continue to take care of business against the WCC, that should be enough to get an at-large bid.
Indiana get biggest win of the season, running away from Ohio State
Coming into this game, Indiana really didn’t have any quality wins on their resumė and was coming off a really tough road loss at Penn State. This game became a game where the Hoosiers really needed to get a win, and Mike Woodson showing up in a suit was proof of the necessity of getting a win (Indiana is undefeated when Woodson wears a suit). The early part of the game didn’t start great, Joey Brunk was getting some revenge on Indiana, while Malaki Branham was scoring as well, but Indiana managed to make a late first-half run and take the lead. The first half of the second half was also really close, with Indiana’s lead being 46-45 at the halfway point of the second half, then the Hoosiers made their run. They finished the game on a 21-6 run, the Hoosiers were getting stops on the defensive end, forcing turnovers and that led to runouts on the other end for points. Trayce Jackson-Davis had a big 27 point, 13 rebound performance and was dominant inside, while the defense was fantastic down the stretch, and holding a player of the year candidate like EJ Liddell to 11 points was key in the victory. The Hoosiers will still need to have a solid finish in Big Ten play but they certainly helped their Tournament chances with this win.
UAB gets quality road win at North Texas
In what is one of the premier matchups in Conference USA play, UAB got a really big road win at North Texas. The game was close pretty much throughout and North Texas even led 56-54 at the 7-minute mark, but UAB closed the game strong. Jordan Walker drilled the jumper to give UAB a somewhat comfortable lead, while the Blazers closed it out. Walker had 17 points to lead the Blazers, while Trey Jemison had 14. The Blazers still have a lot of work to do to get an at-large bid but certainly, this win will go a long way towards that, as well as going a long way towards winning Conference USA.
Strong second-half leads Illinois past Maryland
On what was Ayo Dosumnu jersey retirement night, Illinois took on a Maryland team that was playing with a major sense of desperation. The Terrapins took advantage of Illinois benching Kofi Cockburn with two early fouls and took a 34-30 halftime lead. In the second half, the Illini made a big run, defensively with Cockburn back, the Terrapins were unable to get any easy shots inside, while they started making shots. Trent Frazier went on an 8-0 run and that capped off a 12-0 run for the Illini to go from down five, to up seven and they extended the lead from there to hold on for the win.
Davis and Wisconsin back up win at Purdue with comfortable win against Iowa
On a night where the talk was Johnny Davis vs Keegan Murray to determine which player and which team would be able to get a quality victory, the Badgers won handily. Wisconsin lead early and just continued to build upon the lead, taking a 45-33 lead at the half. The Badgers continued to roll in the second half, ballooning up to 22 before Iowa made a late charge to lose by only 9. Johnny Davis had a fantastic performance and carried that on from Monday’s win scoring 26 points, while Brad Davison added 18. The Badgers are now 12-2 with signature wins over Houston and Purdue already.