Big Ten fans were in for a treat on Wednesday night. The conference's top two teams were in action, and both were on track to further their undefeated league records. Wisconsin was scheduled to face an upstart Purdue squad, but the Badgers rarely slip up at home. Maryland was on the road against Illinois, but we had just learned that the Illini would be without star guard Rayvonte Rice for about a month. Could one of the underdogs pull off the upset?
Game of the night: Illinois 64, Maryland 57
The Terrapins went into halftime leading 28-26, but Illinois opened the final 20 minutes on a 20-3 run that stunned Maryland into submission. With Rice watching from the sidelines, Malcolm Hill took over the scoring load with a career-high 28 points. The 6'6" sophomore is quickly turning into one of the Big Ten's most dangerous jump-shooters and his skills were on full display in Champaign.
This upset wouldn't be possible, however, without a great defensive performance from the Illini, who held Dez Wells to just six points on 2-for-8 shooting. Melo Trimble, who has been terrific at getting to the foul line this season, didn't attempt a free throw until the final minute of play. Illinois's Nnanna Egwu was instrumental with 11 points, nine rebounds, and four blocked shots.
Wisconsin 62, Purdue 55
The Boilermakers kept this one close by shooting 51 percent from the field, but they just couldn't keep up with Wisconsin's efficiency from the free throw line. As a team, the Badgers went 25-for-31 from the charity stripe, while Purdue attempted just seven freebies all night.
A lot of that free throw discrepancy was due to Frank Kaminsky, who led everyone with 21 points while attempting just nine field goals. 11 of Kaminsky's points came on free throws. Jon Octeus led Purdue with 15 points and eight rebounds while going 7-for-9 from the field.