B1G basketball notebook: League shows early strength, plus other news and quotes
In the preseason, the Big Ten had only 3 teams ranked in the AP Top 25, with voters thinking none were worthy of being in the top 10. The total was down from 5 to start last season, including 2 in the top 10, and 4 the season prior, again with 2 ranking in the top 10 teams.
But perhaps the Big Ten is better than what was anticipated. The league is 35-2 to start the 2022-23 season and has scored a couple big victories, none bigger than Michigan State’s double-overtime gem against No. 4 Kentucky late Tuesday night in Indianapolis. The Spartans, who sat as the 1st team outside the Top 25 on Monday, are 2-1 to start the season, falling within a point of upsetting No. 2 Gonzaga last week. They are certainly playing like a Top 25 team, perhaps in the same mold as many of Tom Izzo’s squads: tough, physical, defensive-minded squads that don’t back down.
Related: FanDuel Ohio is coming to the state of Ohio on January 1, 2023 when Ohio residents can begin placing wagers on college basketball games and other sports.
“I’m proud of the players for coming back, so disappointed after that big loss (to the Zags), and yet be resilient enough,” Izzo said after the 86-77 win. “I’m proud of guys like Joey (Hauser) and Mady (Sissoko) who’ve been through the wars, all the abuse they took, but they enjoyed the process. I think sooner or later we better figure out the process is OK. The process is about getting better each year, not worrying about what’s wrong, and just kind of putting your nose to the grindstone.
The Big Ten has also picked up a few impressive Gavitt Tipoff Games victories (vs. teams from the Big East), with Purdue rallying to beat Marquette, Penn State upending Butler at home and Northwestern going on the road to knock off Georgetown. The only blemish is Minnesota’s home loss to DePaul, as the Golden Gophers’ season is off to a rocky start.
Sports Betting in Big Ten Country
More Gavitt Games highlight schedules this week, including tonight when Iowa goes to Seton Hall and Friday when Indiana travels to Xavier and Michigan State hosts Villanova.
Injuries in Piscataway
Rutgers is already without star defender Caleb McConnell, who hasn’t yet played this season while he rehabs a knee injury. Now, the Scarlet Knights might be dealing with another injury situation, as point guard Paul Mulcahy has a shoulder issue that limited him to only 9 minutes in Rutgers’ win Saturday vs. UMass-Lowell.
Mulcahy appeared to originally hurt his shoulder in a season-opening win vs. Columbia, yet still played 27 minutes in Game 2 vs. Sacred Heart. But Mulcahy repeatedly, according to reports, grabbed at his left shoulder during the victory and made only 1-of-6 shoots.
Coach Steve Pikiell hasn’t yet updated Mulcahy’s status, but seemed as optimistic as possible following Saturday’s win.
“Paul’s tough,” he said. “We need him, but we hit adversity during the season so that’s what happens.”
Meanwhile, McConnell hasn’t yet played this season, but there is at least some hope that he could be available for Friday’s game vs. Temple at the Basketball Hall of Fame Showcase in Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.
Rare feat for Penn State guard
Penn State is 3-0 following its 68-62 win over Butler Monday night, and senior Jalen Pickett has been a big reason why.
The guard recorded the Nittany Lions’ 1st triple-double in 24 seasons Monday, when he recorded 15 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in the Gavitt Games victory over the Bulldogs. Perhaps more impressively, Pickett did so without a turnover, making him the 8th such NCAA men’s player to pull off the feat in the last 4 seasons.
“One thing that he does, is that he settles us,” coach Micah Shrewsberry said after the game. “When (the opponent is) on a run, when you just need a tough bucket, to be able to throw him the ball in the post and let him go score it for you, that’s what really good teams have. That’s the Purdue model, the Wisconsin model, Michigan.
“… I’m happy for him to get the triple-double. I know he probably doesn’t care, he’s probably more excited about winning and holding serve here at home our 1st 3 games.”
The only other Nittany Lion to record a triple-double is Calvin Booth, who had 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks in an NIT game at Dayton in 1998.