For a second consecutive week, the #1 ranked team has taken a loss, this time as Duke falls 71-66 at the hands of Ohio State. We’ll get into that game later on, but this was another fun night in College Basketball. The Big Ten went 4-2 in the ACC/ Big Ten Challenge, while there were some other interesting performances in the sport to note, so let’s get into the daily roundup.
Ohio State knocks off #1 Duke
Well, that didn’t take long. Fresh off a win against Gonzaga and taking over the #1 ranking, Duke fell 71-66 at the hands of the Ohio State Buckeyes. The funny part is that Ohio State didn’t even play all that great either, they went 11-22 from the free-throw line, EJ Liddell struggled offensively and they trailed by double digits for much of the second half. The thing is Duke didn’t have a knockout blow, they just let Ohio State creep back into the game and eventually they caught up. The Blue Devils didn’t score a point in the final 4:29 of the game and had one field goal in the final 7:17, which allowed for this upset to happen. Zed Key got hot and had 20 points in this game, while Cedric Russell had his first big performance as a Buckeye, scoring 12 points off the bench. With a young Duke team, they will learn from this upset, most importantly being not to take the foot off the gas. While Ohio State was unranked according to the polls, they were still a Top-25 team according to most of the analytical sites and were an improbable shot by Tyree Appleby away from probably being ranked heading into this game as well.
Purdue makes their claim for #1, runs Florida State out of the gym
Coming into this week, there were arguments made for either Purdue or Duke to be ranked #1, although Duke ended up getting that honor for now. That said, Purdue did their best to try to prove that ranking wrong. The Boilermakers beat Florida State 93-65 in a game that never felt close. Jaden Ivey had 18 points and was excellent, five Boilermakers scored in double figures, and the team shot 48% from three. Simply put, this offense is a wagon, they get good shots, and having a great post threat in Williams and Edey inside is borderline unfair. Whether they are #1, 2 or 3, this team is a fantastic offensive team and should be considered one of the favorites to cut down the nets in April.
Syracuse knocks off Indiana in double overtime
In terms of defense and late-game execution, this game was atrocious but also entertaining because it went to double overtime and it never felt like Indiana was ever out of the game. Sure Syracuse led big for much of the game, but their bad defense allowed Indiana to pick them apart and cut the lead to three in the closing seconds. That’s when the best execution of a down three and at the foul line occurred. Khristian Lander made the first free throw and missed the second so well, that Trayce Jackson-Davis had time to maneuver himself to a rebound and a drawn foul, where he knocked down both to force overtime. Syracuse and Indiana executed terribly down the stretch and took us to double overtime. That’s where again Syracuse blew a lead, thanks to fouling a three-point shooter, luckily Khristian Lander fouled Joe Girard and Syracuse won on free throws. This game was not pretty, it was frustrating, but the Orange get a win that could wind up being pretty important should they end up back on the bubble.
Malachi Smith shines for Chattanooga
Chattanooga was supposed to beat Tennessee Tech and they did but that’s not the impressive part of the night for the Mocs. Malachi Smith had 28 points and went 11-14 from the field en route to that scoring output. Smith should be the favorite to win the SoCon Player of the year award while having David Jean-Baptiste and Silvio De Sousa is valuable as well.
Baker-less Scarlett Knights find their offensive rhythm
I don’t think the plan for Rutgers was to have Geo Baker miss games, but it might be what is best for them in the long run. With Baker out, Paul Mulcahy has taken over the point guard duties and he’s been excellent, having 13 assists in the last two games, while Rutgers has had their two most efficient offensive performances in the process. Yes they lost to Umass but they also found their offense, while beating Clemson is just an add-on for this team. When Baker returns, I suggest moving Baker to the two-guard role and if that happens, I could see Rutgers sneaking into the NCAA Tournament for a third consecutive season (Yes, I’m counting 2020).
Minnesota remains perfect by winning at Pittsburgh
It wasm’t pretty, it wasn’t easy but the Minnesota Gophers are 6-0 thanks to a Luke Loewe game-winning putback. Jamison Battle continues to lead the Gophers in scoring, while Payton Willis has improved dramatically from a season ago. No, Pittsburgh isn’t the best competition ever, but you can’t take wins for granted. They will likely face a rude awakening once conference play begins, but for now let’s celebrate their perfect start.