Wisconsin pulled out a highly entertaining game at Virginia Tech, 74-72. We predicted a close, low-scoring game, so I guess we were half right. Both teams scorched the nets in a slow 54 possession game, posting crazy efficiencies of 136 and 132. Both teams shot an eFG% north of 60%, both teams kept their turnovers very low, and both teams hit the offensive glass. In other words, neither team played anything resembling the defense they are known for - remember that these two teams ranked 2nd and 8th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency last season.
Wisconsin appeared to be in control after Marcus Landry hit a three with 1:08 remaining, giving the Badgers a 7-point lead, but a flurry of treys from the Hokies - four of them in the final minute - resulted in a tie game with 7 seconds remaining. Trevon Hughes then drove the lane and hit an off-balance shot from the foul line with 0.9 seconds left for the win.
Marcus Landry scored 18 points on just 7 shots, and threw in 4 assists (1 turnover), 2 blocks, and a steal for good measure. Jon Leuer looked great off the bench, scoring 17 points on 11 shots, grabbing 6 rebounds, blocking 2 shots, and getting a couple the big fellah!'s from Bill Raftery.
A.D. Vassallo was outstanding for Virginia Tech, scoring 30 points on 17 shots. I've gotta say, he reminded me a little of Chris Douglas-Roberts out there as an unorthodox, big-bodied guard that can really score. Granted, I saw Vassallo on the night he scored a career high, so my perception is probably a bit slanted.
As predicted in our preview, the free throw battle proved to be crucial. Wisconsin made more FTs than Virginia Tech attempted, for a 5 point advantage. Virginia Tech's superior offensive rebounding wasn't enough to make up for that discrepancy, and the Big Ten strikes first in the Challenge. Box score.
In a non-ACC matchup, Northwestern's defense powered them to a 59-43 win over UC-Riverside. The Wildcats did everything well defensively, limiting UC-Riverside to 38.8% eFG, forcing a 24.9 TO%, and keeping the Highlanders off the glass and free throw line. At a 60-possession pace, Northwestern held their opponent to an efficiency of just 71.5.
Offensively, Northwestern had turnover issues (26.6 TO%) for the second straight game and posted just a 98.1 efficiency. The starters were all fairly efficient with their shots, scoring from 8 to 14 points on 6 to 8 shots. The bench, however, shot just 3 for 14, and some of that may be attributed to the blowout (Northwestern led by 18 at the half and ended up playing 16 guys, although 5 of them played just one minute). The starters can't escape blame for the turnovers, as they committed 11 of the 16. Box score.
Tonight, the Big Ten/ACC Challenge gets into full swing, and we'll get nice barometers for nearly everybody. If the Big Ten hopes to finally win a Challenge, they'll need to make some hay tonight, as tomorrow's matchups look far less favorable. The big matchup pits #4 Duke against #10 Purdue (all times CT):
6:00pm - Iowa *at Boston College - ESPNU
6:00pm - *Ohio State at Miami(FL) - ESPN
6:30pm - Clemson at Illinois - ESPN2
8:00pm - Duke at Purdue - ESPN
8:30pm - Virginia at Minnesota - ESPN2