– Northwestern is legit. Not that beating PSU on the road makes you a powerhouse, but the Cats should actually be unbeaten…they blew games against Butler and Notre Dame with late collapses but outplayed both of those teams. The biggest thing is that they’ve finally got a variety of offensive options. Lindsay’s growth as an offensive player this year is shocking and Law has come back from missing last year with injury and gotten right back on track. McIntosh has always been good, he’s just got more help now.
I don’t know if they get it done and finally get that NCAA bid, but I thought in October that they might be on the brink and nothing I’ve seen tells me otherwise, at least so far.
– Illinois is a team I hadn’t seen a lot of but some things in the numbers just weren’t adding up to me…like Tracy Abrams shooting almost 60% from 3 so far. Well, today it all came back to Earth. I’m not sure how good Maryland actually is but Illinois doesn’t look much different than the group we’ve seen for Groce’s whole run there. Maryland played well but Illinois was so bad in so many ways that it’s tough to take much from it, at least for me.
– Rutgers is going to lose this game at Wisconsin but I think Pikiell may FINALLY be the right hire in that job. He has nowhere near enough talent to really compete in the Big Ten but that’s no surprise…everybody knew that going in. What impresses me is what he’s been able to do defensively so quickly. Assuming he can gradually improve the talent base, I think good things may be ahead for that program after decades in the wilderness. Mentioned it in the preseason preview…you just never know for sure how a mid major guy will translate to this level. So far, I like what I see in terms of how quickly he’s been able to reach his team. That doesn’t mean he ultimately gets it done, but it’s a necessary first step.