They had to hold on for dear life and dodge not one but TWO Marcus Paige game winning attempts, but despite scoring only a single basket from the floor in the final eight minutes, despite Jerian Grant fouling out on a dubious call with two minutes remaining, despite a pair of missed free throws with 11 seconds remaining from an 86% foul shooter, Notre Dame still managed to pull off the 71-70 win at Chapel Hill and stake a serious claim towards being a legitimate national player and ACC contender.
Meanwhile, Indiana laid one of the fattest eggs of the season in a simply dreadful performance that made Michigan State look like Mateen Cleaves was playing point last night as the simply pulverized the Hoosiers. The result gave us a split on the night with both our results being hugely decisive and never in doubt. Tonight’s action will focus on some more Big Ten action as we attempt to do something many will struggle with all year long; making sense of this insanely erratic and balanced conference. The Big Ten and the Big East (and to some extend the Pac-12 and SEC) are all really balanced outside of one or two behemoths and are going to produce some head-scratching results all season long.
If you are a fan of college hoops, there’s a few games I’ll be paying attention too (but not picking) tonight. Arkansas’s trip to Georgia will be an interesting litmus test for each team. Georgia is only a three-point dog, so even Vegas isn’t sold on Arkansas being ready to grab ahold of being the second-best team in the SEC. And in the Big Ten, I’ve been stubborn to let go of the notion that Michigan will be OK, but tonight’s trip to Penn State will be HUGE for each squad. A few mock brackets have the Nittany Lions stunningly in the Field of 68. Whoever loses tonight will have to take a realistic look at their all-but-faded Dance dreams…
Let’s see if we can be on the winning side of some relaxing games tonight.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Ohio State Buckeyes at Minnesota Golden Gophers -2
I feel like I’m on a bit of an island on this one, but I actually think Ohio State has the potential to be a pretty good basketball team. They’ve always been a little offensively challenged, but freshman D’Angelo Russell is the real-deal and veteran Shannon Scott has done an excellent job of replacing Aaron Craft. He may not have the same moxie and ‘toughness’ but there were a TON of situations last year where the dependence on Craft hurt that team with bad offensive possessions and over-penetration caused turnovers. This year’s squad is shooting over 52% as a team this season and shot a whopping 60% from the floor in their demolition of Illinois this weekend.
Minnesota is a very typical middle-of-the pack Big Ten team. They have some good wins. They have some bad losses. And you aren’t ever sure exactly which you are going to get. They have decent wins over Georgia and Wake Forest but have lost two straight heading into today, losing to Purdue and Maryland. I think Ohio State is the more talented team and will win as long as they shoot the ball reasonably well tonight.
Ohio State has won seven of the last eight meetings between these two teams. I like them to continue that trend tonight.