Northwestern has never made an NCAA Tournament and ranks 347th in the NCAA in scoring. The Wildcats aren’t exactly the scariest opponent in a deep Big Ten, but Chris Collins’ bunch had won three out of four games entering Saturday’s home game against No. 10 Iowa, so the Hawkeyes couldn’t take Northwestern lightly.
After a first half that saw Northwestern hang around, the Hawkeyes used their deep rotation and potent offense in the second half to slow down Northwestern on their way to a 76-50 Big Ten road win on Saturday.
The Hawkeyes led 30-24 at the half, and shot 50 percent from the field, but turned the ball over 10 times to keep Northwestern (10-11, 3-5) in the game. The Hawkeyes (16-4, 5-2) limited turnovers in the second half — committing only five of them — and senior Roy Devyn Marble finally got rolling after a scoreless first half.
This has been a recent trend for Marble in Big Ten play, as the guard was held to a single point in last Sunday’s Hawkeye win over Minnesota. Marble rebounded nicely against Northwestern in the second half — like he did against Minnesota — and finished with 14 points to help pace the Hawkeye second-half offense.
It was also a great effort for forward Gabriel Olasani, who registered a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds in only 17 minutes of play for Iowa. The play of sophomore point guard Mike Gesell was also outstanding, as the floor leader limited turnovers, ran Iowa’s offense and finished with 11 points and six assists while only turning it over once.
Iowa has a lot of depth, and although scoring leaders like Roy Devyn Marble and wing Aaron White can have off-nights or scoreless halves, the Hawkeyes have enough depth against most teams to withstand a poor effort from one of those guys.
No. 15 Cincinnati pounced on Memphis from the start, taking a 51-32 lead into halftime.
Then, Gary Clark decided to add insult to injury to start the second half. Seriously, how did he catch that?
Mick Cronin’s team is much better offensively than in previous seasons. I’m sure fans in the Fifth Third Arena can get used to seeing more plays like this.
Michigan State freshman guard Cassius Winston had just one field goal in the first half. And it was a half-court buzzer-beater as the Spartans capped a sizable run to take a 49-31 lead over Nebraska going into the break.
The Spartans ended the half on a 21-5 run.
Winston provided a serious boost off the bench during that stanza. Moments earlier, he helped the Breslin Center erupt when he lobbed a pass off the backboard to teammate Miles Bridges.
Michigan State opened the day projected as one of the final at-large bids in the NCAA Tournament. The margin for error is thing and it appears the Spartans are playing with a sense of urgency.
Wednesday’s slate of games had several wild results.
Former Ohio State walk-on turned blogger turned author Mark Titus, who is currently writing for The Ringer, joined Rob Dauster on the latest episode of the CBT Podcast to go over last night’s games. The two also discussed who is the best team in the nation at the moment, as well Frank Mason III’s rap single from several years ago #BIFM
You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom
North Carolina’s Roy Williams called fellow Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino to apologize for a fan’s behavior during Wednesday night’s game in Chapel Hill.
While leaving the floor at halftime, Pitino had to be restrained by members of the Louisville coaching staff and he and a UNC fan exchanged words as he made his way to the locker rom. There’s video of Pitino pointing and shouting at a fan, who reportedly said, “Pitino, you suck!”
“I don’t like that,” Williams said, according to the Charlotte Observer. “I mean we’re in North Carolina. We don’t have to be like everybody else. We can raise Cain. You can boo, but you don’t have to say the stuff that we as coaches have to put up with.”
“I hope that never happens at North Carolina ever again.”
No. 8 North Carolina defeated No. 7 Louisville, 74-63.
STILL TO PLAY
Georgia at Alabama (RPI: 68, KenPom: 61, next four teams), 7:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Michigan State (RPI: 43, KenPom: 55, No. 10 seed), 7:00 p.m.
Towson at UNC Wilmington (RPI: 41, KenPom: 57, No. 12 seed), 7:00 p.m.