It turned out to be a pretty wild night of basketball Wednesday. Purdue absolutely stomped Virginia. Villanova had trouble with Penn. Ohio State thumped North Carolina.
There is more where that came from, though, so here’s what else you need to know from a busy night of hoops around the country.
1. The Big Ten dominated the ACC in the challenge’s final night
As noted above, the Big Ten not only took care of business in the two highest-profile games of the third and final night of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, but absolutely walloped their opponents. Truly, Purdue and Ohio State embarrassed Virginia and North Carolina.
That wasn’t the limits of the Big Ten’s success, however.
Third-ranked Maryland decimated Notre Dame (72-51) and Penn State smacked Wake Forest (76-54). Georgia Tech did beat Nebraska (73-56), and NC State outlasted Wisconsin (69-54), in the lower-tier games.
What we learned Wednesday was that the Big Ten’s strength at the top of the conference is legit, which may have been somewhat in question – at least in the immediate, attention-span deficient times we live in – after Michigan and Michigan State took losses to Louisville and Duke, respectively, last night.
The headliners, though, are what count Wednesday. What Purdue and Ohio State did sends the message that the Big Ten looks to have a real claim on being the country’s toughest conference.
2. DePaul trending up, Texas Tech not so much
Given just how bad DePaul has been in recent years – they avoided finishing out of the Big East cellar just twice in 10 years – it’s been fair to wonder how real this undefeated start to the season has been.
By beating Texas Tech, 65-60 in overtime, the Blue Demons made some progress in quieting doubts about the potential of this being a tournament team.
Dave Leitao’s team now has three wins against top-75 KenPom teams, with two (Minnesota and Iowa) coming on the road. They also knocked off Boston College on the road. Hey, the Eagles are still an ACC team.
Their statistical profile still isn’t great – they don’t shoot it all that well, they don’t take a lot of 3s and they aren’t strong on the boards – but they’re winning. All they’re doing is winning, actually.
It’s certainly a team with a lot of improved talent, and at some point, talent and track record have to take over from a history of losing.
That time appears to be quickly approaching.
As for Texas Tech, Chris Beard’s preseason top-10 team has now lost three straight to a trio of teams – Iowa, Creighton and DePaul – that aren’t expected to compete for conference titles, even if they ultimately prove themselves solid, tournament-level teams.
It probably shouldn’t be surprising to see the Red Raiders struggle given the amount of turnover from last year’s national runners-up, but unless they figure out a way to beat top-ranked Louisville on a neutral floor Tuesday, they’re going to enter conference play with the best win on their resume being Eastern Illinois (KenPom: 245). That’s not a great place to be.
3. Georgetown wins at Oklahoma State
This is a hard one to get a handle on.
On one hand, the Hoyas got a nice road win against a solid Oklahoma State team after losing two major contributors earlier this week.
On the other hand, Georgetown had two players on the floor against the Cowboys who are facing serious accusations of wrongdoing. Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing released a statement saying no player gets “special treatment,” but it still seems strange to see the Hoyas allow players under an unsettled cloud of accusations to take the floor.
A road win against a Big 12 opponent, even if the Cowboys were down a starter, is going to help the Hoyas build a resume that’s going to be much harder to compile without James Akinjo – whose departure is separate from any legal issues his former teammates are having – and Josh LeBlanc, but the way this is being handled makes that seem beside the point.