With games being postponed left and right around the country, leagues are starting to change their forfeit rules. The latest power league to alter its rules was the Big Ten as conference games impacted by COVID-19 cases will no longer be considered automatic forfeits. Now, the Big Ten will review every impacted game and determine whether it can be rescheduled, declared a no-contest or declared a forfeit. The Big Ten’s initial policy called for teams impacted by COVID-19 to forfeit the impacted games. Here’s a look at two intriguing matchups around the country this weekend, including one from the Big Ten. Check back for NCAAB odds, but Baylor and Michigan State will be favored.
Best bets of the weekend in the College Basketball
#1 Baylor at #8 Iowa State, Saturday
Baylor somehow looks even better than last year’s title team as the Bears won their 18th straight game Tuesday, 104-68 over Northwestern State. Coming off a seven-day Christmas break and playing shorthanded, the Bears (12-0) scored the first 13 points of the game and never looked back behind a career-high 27 points from James Akinjo.
Freshman Jeremy Sochan had his first double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds in his first start. Sochan replaced Matthew Mayer, who is in COVID-19 protocol, while sophomore guard LJ Cryer sat out his second-straight game with a nagging foot injury. Not clear if they will play Saturday.
“Whenever you score 104 points with 25 assists, nine turnovers, that’s really well done. Defensively, we were 39%, which is outstanding. A lot of positives. Now, on to the Big 12. Seven of the top 25 defenses in the Big 12. You don’t score 140 often, so things change a little bit now,” said Coach Scott Drew.
Iowa State (12-0) was terrible last year and has been a huge surprise. The Cyclones haven’t played since crushing Chicago State 79-48 on Dec. 21. Tristan Enaruna and Izaiah Brockington each had a double-double to lead the Cyclones. Enaruna had 19 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double, while Brockington turned in his sixth of the year with 20 points and 13 points. Brockington also added a career-high four steals. Caleb Grill had 11 points, while Gabe Kalscheur had a career-high eight assists and three steals, as he made his 100th career start.
The 12-0 start is the second-best in ISU history. The Cyclones have held nine of their 12 opponents to 60 points or less. Iowa State jumped up one spot No. 8 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25. This will be Iowa State’s 22nd date with the No. 1 team in the country. The Cyclones have a 2-19 record in those previous 21 games with wins over Kansas in 1957 and Oklahoma in 2016. Iowa State’s last game against the nation’s No. 1 team was also against Baylor. The Cyclones lost that game to Baylor 67-53 back in 2020.
#10 Michigan State at Northwestern, SundayMichigan State (11-2) played without two starters on Wednesday and struggled for a while before putting away High Point 81-68. Senior forward Gabe Brown scored 18 of his career-high 24 points in the second half. Fellow senior forward Joey Hauser had his sixth career double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Michigan State trailed by one at the half, 35-34. MSU connected on 64.0 percent of its second half field goals (16-of-25), including 66.7 percent of its 3-pointers (8-of-12). MSU out-scored High Point, 17-6, in fast break points. The Spartans committed only eight turnovers. Michigan State is 6-0 when scoring at least 80 points.
Starters Marcus Bingham Jr. and Max Christie, along with reserve Pierre Brooks and walk-on Steven Izzo are among those who have tested positive for COVID and missed the game. Coach Tom Izzo believes Bingham and Christie will play Sunday. New CDC guidelines this week include the recommendation that people with COVID-19 can return to civilization after five days of isolation, if they’re asymptomatic. The Spartans’ entire team is fully vaccinated and boosted.
Northwestern (8-2) was supposed to play Thursday vs. Prairie View A&M but it was canceled. Thus, this will be only be Northwestern’s fourth game played in 33 days if it goes ahead as scheduled. Pete Nance is the Wildcats’ star as he averages 16.3 points and 8.0 rebounds. Boo Buie averages 14.9 points and a Big Ten-best 5.7 assists.
Northwestern has won its last six home games, scoring an average of 83.3 points while giving up 55.2. The Wildcats have turned the ball over on just 12.5 percent of its possessions, the fourth-lowest mark in all of Division I.Expert Picks
- Baylor and Northwestern