Three Takes: Jess Settles on Vic Law, Rutgers' rebounding & Tim Miles
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It’s a night full of Big Ten men’s basketball. Before the action tips off, though, it’s time to share the three biggest things on my mind.
1. Law and Order
Northwestern is off to a 6-2 start. If not for a few mistakes late in heartbreaking losses to undefeated Notre Dame and Butler, the Cats could be undefeated. If you haven’t been following Northwestern, it is currently ranked 44th on KenPom.com and has wins over Wake Forest and Texas. Basketball junkie and Indiana native Bryant McIntosh has matured as a point guard and has his team playing at a high level. He can take over games, and, at times, is the best point guard in the Big Ten. Scottie Lindsey has proven he can score in bunches and impact the game at both ends of the court. Lindsey came two points shy of outscoring DePaul in the first half of Northwestern’s blowout victory last Saturday. Gavin Skelly’s versatility puts a lot of pressure on the opposition, and Sanjay Lumpkin is capable of double-doubles. Dererk Pardon is a game-changer in the paint and on the glass, but isn’t expected back from injury until late December. After sitting out last season due to injury, though, Vic Law is the difference-maker for the Cats. The highly recruited Law has a sweet shot, runs the floor well, and finishes at the rim. He appears to be the wing Chris Collins has needed to resurrect Northwestern. Law showed up on my BTN.com top ten this week for his stellar play. The truth is, Northwestern has several MVP’s at this point in the season, and this year’s team appears talented and mature enough to weather injuries and losing streaks. They will have to continue to prove it on the court. So far so good.
2. Rebounding Knights
Rutgers obviously hasn’t played a schedule like Michigan State’s. Coach Steve Pikiell has a major rebuilding job ahead of him, but when you are a program fresh off a one-win Big Ten season, every victory carries weight. The Scarlet Knights are off to a 7-1 start, including 6-0 at home, and already have matched their victory total from last season! Guards Mike Williams and Corey Sanders are capable of scoring in bunches and Deshawn Freeman is becoming a nightly double-double threat. But here is what will give pause to Big Ten opponents when they visit Piscataway, New Jersey, looking for an easy win: The Scarlet Knights lead the nation in offensive rebounding after finishing 249th last season. They are also fifth in rebound margin (+13). Good guard play and team rebounding is a formula for success. Rutgers looks to be on the rebound.
3. Miles (Nebraska) vs. McDermott (Creighton)
Nebraska has a signature-win opportunity Wednesday night in Lincoln when undefeated Creighton comes to town. Creighton is clicking on all cylinders and has already handed ranked Wisconsin a defeat. This game also carries a little extra significance for Nebraska coach Tim Miles, who first started coaching against Creighton coach Greg McDermott when Miles was at Southwest Minnesota State and McDermott was at Wayne State. In head-to-head matchups over their successful careers, its McDermott 12, Miles 0.