After the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, but before conference play, BCS teams generally cram in a lot of cupcakes into the schedule. It's not the best time to be taking on challenging opponents, as students are studying for finals or have packed up and left town for the holidays. The players are equally distracted, so it makes sense to just cram in some victories to build confidence before conference play.
Illinois rolled over Chicago St., 89-50 in an 84 possession game. The Illini defense held CSU to 0.6 points per possession, forcing the Cougars into 29 turnovers. In fact, the Illini posted their best defensive efficiency of the season in this game. The Illini also held David Holston, the nation's 2nd leading scorer, to "just" 17 points (on 19 shots). The Illini's offense was led by its All Mike Frontcourt, as Davis and Tisdale each posted double doubles. Tisdale's 25 points set a new career high. Box score.
Penn State was also getting defensive last night, taking down Army 60-45 in a 58 possession game. The offensive numbers were pretty ho-hum except for the fact that the Nittany Lions turned it over just 9 times. What's interesting so far about Penn St.'s season is that, after the first 3 games of the year, there aren't many (any?) teams that have held onto the ball better than Penn St. The highest TO Rate the team has posted in a game since those first three was actually last night - 15.4. Missouri, UNC, and Davidson sport the same mark, for the season. That's good for 5th in the country. Andrew Jones probably had the most impressive line of the night, with 13 points (on seven shots) to go with 7 rebounds. Only one player, Josh Miller, reached double figures for Army, and he had only 10 points (on 10 shots). Box score.
Indiana pulled to .500 (against D1 competition) last night with a 66-56 win over TCU (63 possessions). IU has been somewhat of the anti-Penn State this season, turning it over constantly. Last night was no exception as the Hoosiers turned it over 19 times in a pretty slow game. Of course, TCU turned it over 21 times, which is a good way to win a game despite posting a worrisome TO Rate (make the other team's TO Rate even more worrisome). Still, it's not hard to conclude that IU's turnover problems will be the source of their offensive troubles this season. The lowest TO Rate posted by the Hoosiers (against D1 competition) this season was 23.1, against IUPUI. On the season, no other Big Ten team has a TO Rate that bad. Incredibly, IU is posting a TO Rate of 29.7 on the season, good for 341st (out of 344 Division 1 teams) in the nation. The closest BCS team is Kentucky, a full 3 percentage points lower, at 26.7. Tom Pritchard posted a 15/11 dub-dub, and Devan Dumes scored 20 points on 12 shots. Box score.
Minnesota continued its tour of cupcake city, dispatching South Dakota State 74-60 in a 67 possession game. This game was a block party - the Gophers blocked 14 shots on the night. To put that into context, SDSU only made 13 two pointers. Perhaps one or two of these blocks were on a three pointer, but the point still stands - the Jackrabbits were just as likely to get their shots swatted as they were to convert them. BTG Preseason All-Defense Team member Damian Johnson had us proud, swatting 5 shots, grabbing 6 boards, and recording a steal for good measure. Oh, and he also had 21 points on 15 shots. Box score.
Tonight...nobody plays. But you wouldn't want to miss the Christmas episode of 30 Rock anyways, now would you?