It’s gonna be a wild season in the Big Ten. It might not be fast, but if the first few games are any indication, it’ll be entertaining.
Tuesday gave us Illinois’ double-overtime win against Minnesota and Wednesday followed up with Purdue’s 79-76 victory vs. Iowa and a roller-coaster ride of a game between Michigan State and Indiana. Heck, even blowouts by Ohio State and Wisconsin were interesting, mostly for the sheer dominance by the Buckeyes and Badgers.
Great games should be expected of college basketball’s best league. When the top eight teams are in kenpom.com’s top 50 and another (Northwestern) is right behind, there will be plenty of matchups that go down to the final minutes and feature incredible momentum swings.
Michigan State sprinted to an 18-point lead in the first half, bolstered by its home crowd and some impressive scoring by Brandon Wood. But the Hoosiers whittled to five by halftime, then opened up a nine-point lead of their own.
Yep, that’s a 25-2 Indiana run. But just when it looked as though the Hoosiers would run their record to 13-0, the Spartans responded with a run of their own. They held Indiana scores for six minutes, and ran off 20 points. Much of came from sophomore point guard Keith Appling, who scored a career-high 25, 18 in the second half. It was, in a word, nuts.
“That’s how Big Ten basketball is,” Indiana’s Christian Watford said. “I knew that coming in, being a veteran, so I was prepared for it. It was a learning process for us more than anything. We didn’t do what it took tonight and didn’t get enough defense to stop them.”
Not enough defense? Hey, that’s music to the ears of every Big Ten detractor. Maybe not the coaches, though…
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.