On Wednesday, the Big Ten participated in a total of six games. The biggest matchup was arguably Minnesota's game against St. John's, but there were a few other interesting games. Overall, the Big Ten ended up going 4-2 on the day and extending its record on the season to 56-13.
Game of the Night: Minnesota vs. St. John's
The Gophers got their second shot at a quality opponent this season and again, they fell short. Despite leading at halftime and having a slight lead with just over 5 minutes remaining, Minnesota couldn't hold on and fell to St. John's by a final score of 70-61. Overall, it was a pretty back and forth game. According to the win probability matrix on KenPom, the odds to win the game switched well over 10 times, which implies how competitive the game actually was on Wednesday. There was no clear favorite until St. John's pulled away at the very end.
Overall, it was a disappointing loss for Minnesota because they were in position to win. The Gophers were not favorites coming in, so losing is certainly not unexpected, but it's these kind of losses that will be important for Minnesota when we reach March. There's no doubt that Minnesota is a solid team and they were competitive against Louisville and St. John's - or at least for segments - but they need to pull off some wins. Minnesota will get two shots at wins against Georgia and Wake Forest in the near future.
In terms of contributions, the one player to note in this one was freshman Nate Mason. He had a great game with 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists in just 26 minutes. He also had an offensive rating of 151. If he keeps playing this way, Pitino will have to keep him on the court. On the other end of the spectrum, Andre Hollins and Deandre Mathieu have to be more impactful on the offensive end of the court. Hollins and Mathieu combined for 14 points in 56 minutes of game time. For what are arguably Minnesota's best players, that's just something that will not work against good teams.
Northern Illinois at Iowa
The Hawkeyes secured a pretty easy win over Northern Illinois by a final score of 70-49. The game was competitive for about 7 minutes and then Iowa started pulling away. With 11 minutes remaining in the 1st Half, Iowa was already up by 14 points and were never challenged again. Aaron White had a good game with 14 points and 4 offensive rebounds, but there were a few other notable performances. Anthony Clemmons had 14 points in 25 minutes, which allowed him to get a 176 offensive rating. Adam Woodbury also had 12 points and 6 rebounds. Iowa will get Longwood before facing North Carolina on the road.
Northwestern vs. Northern Iowa
The Wildcats fell to Northern Iowa by a final score of 61-42 in Cancun. There are a few things to note from this loss. First, Northern Iowa is actually a pretty good team. They are rated #39 overall on KenPom and are undefeated on the season with wins over Stephen F. Austin and Virginia Tech. This was not an upset. Still, having said that, this loss has been coming for the last few games. The Wildcats have been playing very weak teams in really close games. Essentially, despite coming into this game with a 5-0 record, fans had to guess this one was coming. In terms of game action, it's worth noting that freshman Bryant McIntosh had 13 points and was the only player on Northwestern's roster to get double digits. Northwestern gets Georgia Tech next.
Campbell at Ohio State
Another overmatched opponent and another blowout win for the Buckeyes. Ohio State ended up running by Campbell at a final score of 91-64. The Buckeyes have moved to 4-0 on the season, but have only played one game against a quality team in Marquette. Essentially, not much has changed or worth noting from this game. D'Angelo Russell continues to impress with 22 points, which was big. However, until that showdown with Louisville, Ohio State is just notching off easy wins right now.
Purdue vs. BYU
What a game. Big Ten fans got blessed with a great game between Michigan and Villanova on Tuesday night, but this game was every bit as good. Purdue ended up winning by a final score of 87-85 in overtime and that final score was very indicative of this game. One team would make a run or a great play and the other team would immediately respond with a run of their own or a great play on their end. The biggest players for Purdue in this one were Vincent Edwards and AJ Hammons. Edwards had 25 points and 9 rebounds and looks every bit like an All-Big Ten Freshman team member. Hammons ended up making the key play at the end to secure the win and had 12 points of his own. The Boilermakers get North Carolina State next.
Wisconsin vs. UAB
The Badgers opened up their trip to the Bahamas with an easy win over a completely overmatched UAB team. Wisconsin ended up winning by a final score of 72-43. Only three players on Wisconsin's roster ended up getting more than 25 minutes, which tells a lot about this game. Wisconsin was never challenged. It is worth noting that Duje Dukan had a pretty solid performance with 11 points in 27 minutes. Wisconsin gets Georgetown next.