What a big conference road win for the Badgers last night. I've always had a fond spot in my heart for Assembly Hall, especially after a beam fell from the rafters a couple years ago when a red-hot Iowa team was suppose to play there and basically became a metaphor for the Hawkeyes collapsing seaon from that point forward. But regardless of that, a road win against one of Wisconsin's main competitors for the Big Ten title is a great way to start the conference season. Another big road test for the Badgers this weekend when they travel to Purdue. This win at least guarantees a split on that two-game road trip, and a win would firmly put Bucky in the driver's seat.
And a side note: Ethan Happ is really good.
This is going to be one hell of a feud. I'm on record as saying their SummerSlam match was 2016's Match of the Year. I don't think I'm technically on record anywhere saying that but that is my opinion. And their build-up to that match was phenominal, pun intended. And so far eight days in, these guys have picked up right where they left off.
Their segment on SmackDown last night was great stuff and continued to set the stage for their Rumble match. I'm assuming these two will steal the show again at the Rumble, and then regardless of who wins it should set up both men for marque matches at WrestleMania. Does AJ retain and defend the belt at WrestleMania to cap off his great run as World Champion? And does that leave John Cena open to face The Undertaker at WrestleMania? Or does Cena's return lead him to another championship run to tie Ric Flair's record at 16? And then does that possibly leave the door open for an AJ Styles vs. Shawn Michaels match? A lot of puzzle peices still on the table left to be put together. I'm really looking forward to see how everything fits together.
A wild night in the Big 12 last night. Three great games played in the Big 12 last night and to me, this is what makes conference basketball so great. Those are three great, entertaining games being played but when you tie them all together underneath the umbrella of a common conference where one outcome affects those other teams I think it's great and compelling. And I didn't actually watch any of the Oklahoma-TCU game but I would assume it was entertaining. Any time the Horned Frogs and Sooners get together you know you're in for a classic on the hardwood.
The Kansas-Kansas State-travelling-no call game is going to get most of the press today. And rightfully so, it was a great game where the underdog battled all the way back just to have the prohibitive giant win at the buzzer, with the help of a blatant no call. Not even a judgement no-call on a foul/no-foul decision. This was just debating whether Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk three, four, or five steps without a dribble on the final shot....in the middle of the court with almost no one around him. Tough call to miss. I mean seriously, if that was on the football field this Sviatoslav guy would have been the leading rusher for Kansas' football team most games.
But while that game will get the headlines, the Texas Tech-West Viriginia game was the game with the most dramatic outcome affecting the rest of the conference. It's always tough to win on the road during conference play but I fully expected West Virginia to be able to get a win in Lubbock in front of all 750 Texas Tech fans. Makes me feel a little bit more confident about my "Texas Tech at #5 in the Big 12" pick from yesterday. And it should also give any of the not-top teir teams (Kansas/WV/Baylor) in the Big 12 some more confidence playing on the road this conference season. I get the feeling the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City may not be as exciting as in years past just due to the lack of quality depth in the conference but I think that will make the conference season more exciting than years past. There should be a race at the top of the standings between Kansas, West Virginia, and Baylor; but there should also be a lot of jockeying for position and tournament bids in the middle of the conference between almost everyone else. Which makes every game meaningful for a lot of teams.