Northwestern landed a unique graduate transfer on Thursday as Loyola lacrosse star Pat Spencer will spend his final year of college eligibility hooping for the Wildcats, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman.
A former high school basketball standout at Boys’ Latin (MD), Spencer was one of the best lacrosse players in the country for the Greyhounds the past four years in college. He was selected in two drafts during the Spring. Spencer was taken first overall in the inaugural PLL College Draft while getting taken seventh overall in the MLL’s Collegiate Draft. Loyola remains in the NCAA tournament as Spencer is playing out his senior season of college.
Spencer is passing up multiple professional lacrosse opportunities to play Big Ten basketball for Northwestern. For a stud athlete in a sport to pass up money to pursue another athletic dream is one of the college basketball’s best things to follow next season.
As if Spencer’s background wasn’t unique enough, he’ll be at a Northwestern team starving for an identity since making the NCAA tournament a few seasons ago. By playing in the Big Ten, Spencer will be thrown against Final Four contenders and potential draft picks, which makes this transition particularly intriguing. It’s a cool story to follow this season as college hoops doesn’t often get athletes from other sports playing in such prominent conferences.
Greg Paulus famously went from Duke point guard to Syracuse quarterback as a graduate transfer, but he was leaving the sport to pursue an opportunity to play football. Spencer choosing basketball over a sure pro shot in lacrosse is an interesting opportunity for him this season. It’ll be interesting to see if he can still contribute anything on the hardwood.
EVANSTON, Ill. — A shaky start to the season didn’t rattle Purdue. The Boilermakers believed they were setting themselves up to go on a big run, and look at them now.
Carsen Edwards scored 21 points and No. 11 Purdue clinched a share of the Big Ten regular-season championship with a 70-57 victory over Northwestern on Saturday.
The Boilermakers (23-8, 16-4) secured their 24th conference title — second in three years — as well as the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago. They came in tied with Michigan State and Michigan, who played each other on Saturday night.
Edwards, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, made just 6 of 18 shots. Nojel Eastern scored a career-high 15, and Purdue bounced back from a loss at Minnesota on Tuesday to win for the 17th time in 20 games.
It’s quite a turnaround after a 6-5 start. The schedule early on wasn’t easy and there were some tight losses along the way.
“We just saw what we had,” center Matt Haarms said. “We saw how good (we could be). We saw the offensive potential. We saw how if we worked on defense, there were things we could do that could be special. Maybe others didn’t realize that because they weren’t around us all the time.”
Northwestern’s Vic Law scored 13 before getting carried off the court with a right knee injury in the second half.
The senior went down when his knee hit Edwards’ right shin as he curled toward the top of the key off a screen near the Wildcats’ basket.
The collision left Law clutching his cut right knee as he pounded the court in pain. He was tended to for several minutes before being carried off the court as the crowd gave him a loud ovation.
Coach Chris Collins said he wasn’t sure of the extent of the injury. He said Law was going for more tests, though he was able to walk.
“The most concerning thing is it was a pretty good cut,” Collins said. “It kind of broke open. That was the tough part of the thing. If there’s a way for him to keep playing, he will.”
A.J. Turner scored 14. The last-place Wildcats (13-18, 4-16) lost for the 11th time in 12 games.
DOWN THE STRETCH
Purdue had trouble putting this one away after building a 15-point lead in the second half. Northwestern got within 63-55 with 4:10 remaining on back-to-back 3’s by Turner.
But Edwards answered with a 3 and Eastern hit two free throws to make it a 13-point game.
“We have three or four wins that we were very fortunate to have. But more than anything, Our guys improved. Our guys got better. We had some young guys have to grow up, play off the bench and play a role. A lot of times, there’s a lot of dissension. There’s a lot of immaturity. There’s a lot of selfishness that comes because you’re young and you want to play. When you don’t have to play very much, you have to play a role. Our guys were really professional.” — Purdue coach Matt Painter.
Purdue: The Boilermakers bounced back from a loss at Minnesota and got the win despite some difficulties in this game. They made just 7 of 24 3-pointers, but held a 37-26 rebounding edge — 10-2 in offensive boards.
Northwestern: As if the Wildcats needed more bad news this season, they might have to get by without their leading scorer. Law came in averaging 15.1 points. He missed the 2015-16 season because of a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
Purdue: Plays Friday in the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago.
Northwestern: Plays Wednesday in the Big Ten Tournament.
It was the second straight game the Bohannon played hero for the Hawkeyes (19-5, 8-5, Big Ten). And again, it was his long-range shooting that did the trick.
“Ice in my veins, right?” Bohannon said through a laugh. “No, like I said, I just feel really comfortable toward the end of the games. When you have a coach like Coach (Fran) McCaffery who gives the ultimate green light to you, it gives you the supreme confidence to be able to make shots like that down the stretch.
“Coach McCaffery did a good job of drawing up a good set and I just tried to do what I’ve always done, just try to close out games and make the most of the time I’m out there.”
Bohannon’s second-straight highlight-reel performance came as no surprise to McCaffery, who has gotten to see the youngest Bohannon — who had two older brothers play Big Ten basketball — play since grade school.
“It’s one of those things where if it ended the way that it did, you know (Bohannon) is going to make the shot,” McCaffery said. “He’s been doing it since fifth grade.
“He did it against Penn State, too. He’s had an amazing year in that respect. He’s fearless. That’s why he’s got to be on the floor.”
Bohannon scored his first points with 5:28 to go on a jumper and finished with 15 points with 3-for-4 shooting from 3-point range.
Freshman Joe Wieskamp scored 21 points, including a 3-pointer that was part of the Hawkeyes’ comeback with less than six minutes remaining. Tyler Cook had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Isaiah Moss scored 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting.
Vic Law had 24 points and 10 rebounds, Ryan Taylor scored 16 points, A.J. Turner added 15 and Dererk Pardon scored 13 for Northwestern (12-11, 3-9).
The Hawkeyes struggled through most of the game against the visiting Wildcats, getting beat heavily on the boards (37-26) and allowing Northwestern to shoot better than 50 percent from the field.
McCaffery said the final play was drawn up with multiple options, including for Wieskamp, Cook and Moss, in addition to Bohannon. It was up to his son, Connor, to make the right decision.
“We ran a play with multiple options, and it’s up to the players to execute,” McCaffery said. “It’s up to the inbounder to make the right decision.
“You don’t want to force it there because it might not be there. We had options for Cook, for Joe and options for (Moss). Connor (McCaffery) had to read it, he made the perfect read and (Bohannon) made the shot.”
Iowa has won three straight and sit three games behind Michigan in the Big Ten Conference standings.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes got a season-defining win 10 days ago against Michigan and backed that up on the road at Indiana. A furious comeback helped erase what would’ve been a letdown, and now positions the Hawkeyes for several crucial games to better their NCAA Tournament seeding down the stretch.
Northwestern: The Wildcats looked like they were going to snap a three-game losing streak overall and get just their second Big Ten road win this season to go along with their victory Jan. 18 at Rutgers. Instead, they fell further into the trap of playing on the first day of the Big Ten Tournament and have lost four in a row.
If the NCAA had the NBA’s trade deadline, what deals would get made?
I’m convinced of it. Imagine, for a second, the offers that would get thrown around as Duke looks for some shooting, or Michigan looks for another playmaker, or Kansas tries to find a way to avoid losing the Big 12 for the first time since Hoobastank was still a thing.
It wouldn’t make the headlines that this Anthony Davis soap opera has, but it would be one of the biggest story in sports.
So with that in mind, let’s pretend this trade deadline exists. What would happen? We have the answers.
One major caveat here: These trades have to benefit both teams, and they have to be trades that, in theory, would be accepted. So, for example, no matter how much I want to imagine someone like Cam Reddish with the freedom he’d have at Kansas. The same can be said for someone like Dylan Windler or Ja Morant or Chris Clemons. Those mid-majors superstars are on teams with the talent to win their league. They’re not making moves right now.
I know it’s kind of silly to require some sensibility for something that could never possibly happen, but it makes the exercise that much more fun.
Anyway, here are the trades. Drop a note in the comments or hit me on twitter with any I missed:
WICHITA STATE’S MARKIS MCDUFFIE TO DUKE FOR ALEX O’CONNELL
McDuffie is everything that Duke is missing at this point in the season. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-8 wing that is a versatile defender and, most importantly, a senior that has already won a bunch of games in March. He’s have the best year of his career this season, averaging 18.9 points while shooting 38.1 percent from three. He’s a better version of Jack White, a piece that can spell any of Duke’s Big Three while also being able to hold his own if Duke went to their death lineup — with McDuffie on the floor with the four freshmen.
O’Connell would be a good get for Gregg Marshall. He’s going to have to be better defensively to fit in there, but you get better defensively when you spend time in that program. And frankly, playing for one of the better programs in the American is more O’Connell’s level than playing for arguably the best program in America. He hasn’t been great for Duke, but keep in mind, he’s an athletic, 6-foot-6 wing that can shoot it from three and was a top 75 prospect coming out of high school.
Wichita State is dead in the water this year, so it makes sense to give up McDuffie for the rest of a wasted season to get two more years of O’Connell in return.
STANFORD’S KZ OKPALA TO MICHIGAN FOR BRANDON JOHNS AND THE COMMITMENT OF JALEN WILSON
Stanford’s season is done. They’re 11-10 on the year, they’re 4-5 in the horrid Pac-12 and while Jerod Haase isn’t quite on the hot seat just yet, he’s getting closer and closer to that territory by the moment. He also has one of the best sophomores in the country on his roster in K.Z. Okpala, a 6-foot-9 wing that shoots 41 percent from three, can handle the ball and will likely end up being a top 20 pick in this year’s draft.
This season is currently going to waste for Okpala, who is the perfect fit on a Michigan team that can go through stretches were they really struggle to score. Zavier Simpson, Jon Teske and, to a point, Charles Matthews are sensational defenders that can be liabilities on the offensive end of the floor, and when all of them are playing roughly 20 minutes together, Michigan can get bogged down on that end of the floor.
Enter Okpala, who has the length and athleticism to be a plus-defender and whose shooting and playmaking ability will fit in perfectly with a John Beilein offense. He’ll create depth on a roster that doesn’t have a ton of it, and suddenly give Beilein the option of playing a lineup that includes Iggy Brazdeikis, Isaiah Livers, Matthews and Okpala.
Johns is going to end up being pretty good, and Wilson is a top 50 prospect, so that’s a lot to give up, but Johns will play at least one more year behind Teske and Livers, and Wilson can be replaced on the recruiting trail still. Okpala gives Michigan a real chance to win a title this season, and Stanford will be getting good foundational pieces to add to a young core in return.
NORTHWESTERN’S VIC LAW TO KANSAS FOR CHARLIE MOORE
SOUTH CAROLINA’S CHRIS SILVA TO KANSAS FOR MARCUS GARRETT
Charlie Moore has not had anywhere near the impact we thought he would have this season for Kansas. Devon Dotson has taken over starting point guard duties, and Moore — who was good for a bad Cal team as a freshman — has been forced into essentially being a back-up point guard that shoots a bunch of threes. Northwestern is closer to his level, and Law is a perfect piece to add to the Kansas roster. He’s a versatile and talented 6-foot-7 wing defender — he’s averaging better than 1.0 blocks and 1.0 steals per game this season — that is averaging 15.0 points and 2.9 assists this season. He’s not shooting it all that well this year, but the last two seasons, he was a 39 percent three-point shooter.
But it is the second trade here that really gets the juice flowing. Marcus Garrett has become surplus to requirements for the Jayhawks with the emergence of Ochai Agbaji and the struggles of Quentin Grimes, which has made it seem more and more likely he’ll end up in Lawrence for a second season. Garrett is one of the nation’s best defenders, but he is not the offensive weapon that Self needs him to be.
He is, however, the perfect fit longterm for a South Carolina program that is more or less dead in the water right now. They aren’t going to get an at-large bid and currently sit three games behind the No. 1 team in the country and two games behind the No. 5 team in the country in the SEC title race. Chris Silva is a hoss in the paint and maybe the most underrated big man in the sport. He’s precisely what Kansas needs for the rest of the year with Udoka Azubuike out and the rest of their frontcourt not ready.
These two deals would make Kansas the best team in the Big 12 and would not totally mortgage the program’s future.
USC’S BENNIE BOATWRIGHT TO SYRACUSE FOR JALEN CAREY
Bennie Boatwright is perfect for Syracuse. He’s 6-foot-10 and he’s not all that interested in playing defense, which makes him a perfect fit to be hidden in that zone. He also can shooting the cover off the ball, and what the Orange need more than anything else is someone that can create some space offensively. He’ll pull defenses out of the lane and allow Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett to do what they do best.
Jalen Carey has had some flashes for the Orange, but he’s on the smaller side and he can’t really shoot it, which has limited his effectiveness as the season has gone on.
TULSA’S DAQUAN JEFFRIES TO TEXAS TECH FOR KYLER EDWARDS
Finding the right fit for Texas Tech was tough. I toyed with Justin James of Wyoming, a number of the other wings you currently see on this list as well as Robert Franks from Washington State. I finally settled on Jeffries.
A lot of people won’t be familiar with Jeffries, but he would be a perfect fit for the Red Raiders. He’s tough as hell, he’s a really good defender and, most importantly, he can shoot it from three. That is the big thing that this team needs — floor-spacing. Someone that can ease the burden that is on Jarrett Culver’s shoulders. Jeffries can be that guy.
Giving up Kyler Edwards would not be ideal, but Texas Tech does have some depth on their perimeter and some pieces coming in in their backcourt. He’ll be a star for Tulsa in the American, and would give Frank Haith a nice building block moving forward.
ST. JOSEPH’S CHARLIE BROWN TO KENTUCKY FOR JEMARL BAKER
Charlie Brown is a talented, 6-foot-7 sophomore with an NBA future that has struggled to find his way within the St. Joe’s program. He needs a fresh start, and his length and athleticism on the perimeter would be a really nice fit on Kentucky’s roster. He can shoot it as well, meaning that the Wildcats won’t lose much with Baker leaving.
St. Joe’s, on the other hand, will be getting a former four-star recruit that needs a place where he can get more minutes to prove how good he can be.
UTAH’S SEDRICK BAREFIELD TO INDIANA FOR TWO FRESHMEN TO BE NAMED LATER
There are two things that this Indiana program needs: Veteran leadership at the point guard spot, and someone that can consistently hit jumpers to create space for Romeo Langford, Juwan Morgan and De’Ron Davis to operate. Barefield is a senior that is averaging 16.3 points and 3.8 assists for Utah while shooting 40.6 percent from three. He’s the perfect fit for the Hoosiers, who, in exchange, would send back some of their young pieces. Who do you like? Clifton Moore? Damezi Anderson? Jake Forrester? Jerome Hunter? If I’m Archie Miller, the only guy that I’m not giving up is Robert Phinisee.
NEW MEXICO’S ANTHONY MATHIS TO VCU FOR P.J. BYRD
I really think that this VCU team has a chance to be dangerous this year … if they can find a way to start consistently making threes. Anthony Mathis is a guy that will consistently take, and make, threes. He plays in a system at UNM that is not all that different from what VCU does, and while Byrd has looked promising in his limited minute with the Rams, VCU will be getting Marcus Evans back next season. There won’t be many minutes for him available, and it shouldn’t be that hard for Mike Rhoades to find another point guard to fit what he wants to do.
Bruno Fernando Helps No. 21 Maryland Past Northwestern 70-52
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Bruno Fernando had 22 points and 10 rebounds, freshman Jalen Smith scored 14 points and No. 21 Maryland emphatically ended a two-game skid with a 70-52 rout of Northwestern on Tuesday night.
The Terrapins (17-5, 8-3 Big Ten) expanded an 11-point halftime lead to 53-30 with 10 minutes left and coasted to the finish. The victory followed double-digit defeats against Michigan State and Illinois that dropped Maryland eight notches in the AP Top 25.
It was the third straight double-double and 13th of the season for Fernando, a 6-foot-10 sophomore who helped Maryland finish with a 44-28 rebounding advantage.
Anthony Gaines scored 18 points and Dererk Pardon added 14 for the Wildcats (12-9, 3-7). Leading scorer Vic Law missed six of eight shots and finished with five points, 11 below his team-leading average.
Northwestern shot 31 percent from the floor and went 5 for 23 from 3-point range.
After Law hit a jumper to open the second half and get the Wildcats to 33-24, Maryland followed with a 20-6 run to pull away. Fernando scored six points in the spree and Smith and Eric Ayala tallied five each.
Smith fell one rebound short of his third double-double of the season.
Fernando scored 12 points and the Terrapins limited the Wildcats to 23 percent shooting in taking a 33-22 halftime lead.
Anthony Cowan Jr. got Maryland started with a four-point play, and Northwestern missed 12 straight field-goal attempts while the Terps went on an 11-1 run to make it 15-5.
After the Wildcats closed to 19-15, Fernando contributed a dunk, layup and two free throws to a 10-0 spurt that put Maryland up by 14.
Northwestern: The Wildcats are in the midst of a stretch in which they’re playing seven of 10 on the road. Northwestern is 9-3 at home and 1-5 away.
Maryland: This was the Terps’ lone home appearance over a span of six games, and one of only two home games from Jan. 15-Feb. 22.
Northwestern: Facing a Maryland team desperate to get back on track, the Wildcats were outplayed on both ends of the floor during another poor performance on the road.
Maryland: The Terrapins stopped their first losing streak of the season (two games) and can make a move back up the rankings by keeping the momentum going at Wisconsin on Friday.
Northwestern: The Wildcats host Penn State on Monday night.
Maryland: The host Terrapins beat Wisconsin 64-60 on Jan. 14 despite blowing a 21-point lead. They face off again Friday.
Bubble Banter: The margins on the cut line are as fine as ever
I wanted to take a second today to walk you through just how fine the margins are on the bubble right now.
Let’s start with N.C. State. The Wolfpack, depending on where you look, are somewhere are a No. 7 or No. 8 seed right now. Our Dave Ommen has them slotted in an 8-9 game, which seems a bit low for a team that is currently sitting at No. 23 in the AP Poll. It makes sense, however, when you take a closer look at their resume — the Wolfpack have just one Q1 win this season and their non-conference SOS is an abysmal 349th out of 353 teams.
The one Q1 win that N.C. State has landed came against Auburn at home. The Tigers have lost three in a row themselves and, as of Tuesday, were sitting at 0-5 in Q1 games. They won’t get a chance to improve on that mark until Feb. 9th when they pay a visit to LSU. Auburn’s best win — and their only top 50 win of the year — came on the fourth day of the season, when they beat Washington at home. Washington has not beaten a top 50 team this year. Their two best wins of the season came last week, when they swept the Oregon schools on the road, and with the way the Ducks have been trending of late, there’s no guarantee that they will finish the year as a top 75 team and thus a Q1 win.
Ommen has Washington, like N.C. State, has a No. 8 seed and Auburn slotted in as a No. 9 seed, which is why it’s so hard to rule anyone out of the NCAA tournament picture at this point. Hell, UCF played their first Q1 opponent on Sunday, lost by 20 points on the road and they are the third team out of the field.
It isn’t going to take much for anyone to play their way from the wrong side of the cut-line into the tournament.
Just ask Baylor.
The Bears have won five in a row and six of their last seven, beating the likes of Iowa State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma (on the road by 30) to vault themselves fairly comfortably into the field despite having possibly the two worst losses of any potential at-large team in Stephen F. Austin (277) and Texas Southern (233), both at home.
Anyway, here is tonight’s action on the bubble:
TEXAS (NET: 44, SOS: 2): The Longhorns landed another nice win, picking off Kansas at home on Tuesday. That’s the fourth Q1 win for Texas — North Carolina on a neutral, Purdue and Kansas at home, at Kansas State by 20 — and while they do have nine losses on the season, only one of those nine came against Q3 competition (Radford at home). That’s what happens when you play the second-toughest schedule in the country.
LIPSCOMB (NET: 40, SOS: 55): Lipscomb had just one chance left this season to add another Q1 win to their profile, and they got it — they went into Liberty (46) and won by 20. The Bisons are now 2-3 against Q1 competition (at TCU) and have beaten Vermont at home and won at SMU. This is a really good team that will deserve serious at-large consideration in their take care of business in their league.
ALABAMA (NET: 43, SOS: 13): The Crimson Tide picked up another solid win on Tuesday night, boucning back from a loss at Baylor by beating Mississippi State in Tuscaloosa. That’s now three Q1 wins for Avery Johnson’s club, which is the exact same number as the Q3 losses they’ve amassed. Their win over Kentucky is going to continue to look better and better, however, and with the cut line looking as funky as it does right now, that is going to carry some weight.
N.C. STATE (NET: 27, SOS: 218): It’s hard to criticize a team too much for losing by one in overtime against the No. 3 team in the country, but that’s exactly what happened on Tuesday night when the Wolfpack hosted Virginia. We talked about it at length, but the issue for N.C. State is that their non-conference SOS is atrocious, and the selection committee does not like that. They also have as many Q2 losses as they do Q1 wins. That’s a precarious spot.
NEBRASKA (NET: 24, SOS: 68): The Huskers lost their fourth straight on Tuesday, falling at home to Wisconsin by double-digits, and they now sit at 12-8 overall. The Huskers do have a double of Q1 wins — at Indiana, at Clemson — but their issue is that they now have to find a way to turn around their season without their second-leading scorer and rebounder in Isaac Copeland, because the committee is going to take into consideration the fact that Copeland is no longer on the roster.
OHIO STATE (NET: 37, SOS: 35): The Buckeyes landed a massive win on Saturday, going into Lincoln and picking off Nebraska. That win was so important because they had just lost five straight games and we knew they were heading to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan tonight. As expected, they lost on Tuesday. With three Q1 road wins and nothing on their profile worse than a loss at Rutgers (124), they’re in good shape as their schedule eases up — they get Rutgers, Penn State, at Indiana and Illinois in their next four.
PITTSBURGH (NET: 62, SOS: 66): Pitt being a thing was fun while it lasted, but just three weeks after wins over Louisville and Florida State thrust the Panthers into the bubble conversation, they’re now lost their last four games. Three were on the road, however, and the home game came against Duke. Syracuse on Saturday is going to be a big one.