Tuesday night’s 2-game Big-Ten slate featured some good and a lot of ugly. Purdue lit Illinois up by over 20 points, while Michigan lost yet another winnable conference game.
Let’s take a look at how those two games went down, and what’s next for all 4 teams involved.
Big Ten Game of the Day:
-#17 Wisconsin 68, Michigan 64
This game kind of felt like the Virginia Tech game...
and the Iowa game. Also the Maryland game too.
With about 12 minutes left in the second half, the Wolverines were up 38-30 and had all the momentum in the world. A D’Mitrik Trice three-pointer seemed to energize the Badgers, though, and despite Michigan holding other late leads, Wisconsin always had an answer.
Yeah, it just feels like Michigan’s inability to close out games is continuing to be a problem. In fact, it has been a recurring theme since the 2015-16 season. One asks themselves whether it may be because of a lack of leadership on the roster, or if it has more to do with the coaching. Either way, the Wolverines seem to lose a lot of games that they looked poised to win.
Zak Irvin scored 20 points and Derrick Walton Jr had 15, but second half foul trouble kept Moritz Wagner and D.J Wilson, Michigan’s top two bigs, off the floor at the worst time possible. The Wolverines went on long scoring runs and held decent late leads, but the absence of their two defensive anchors gave Bronson Koenig the chance to take over and keep Wisconsin it the game.
Koenig’s 16-point (3-5 from three point range) performance was the difference for the Badgers. He continued to be about as clutch as can be, and Wisconsin needed it tonight.
The Badgers will now travel to Minneapolis to take on the Gophers on Saturday at 4:30 where they hope that the number in their conference loss column stays put at 1. We have listed this game as our BTPH Game of the Week.
The Wolverines, on the other hand, will next play the Illini on Saturday afternoon at Crisler. The two recently met in Champagne, and Illinois breezed to a dominant 85-69 win. Both teams have just two conference wins, and desperately need wins if they want any chance at making the tournament. You can expect this one to be a tightly contested one throughout.
-#21 Purdue 91, Illinois 68
Illinois held a 2-0 lead for, like, 30 seconds before being absolutely lit up by the Boilermakers. Although this game was a pretty straightforward domination from beginning to end, I still felt like this game had a distinct turning point.
With around 16 and a half minutes to play in the first half, and Purdue up 6-2, Purdue guard Carsen Edwards got the absolute shooter’s touchiest of shooter’s touches that I have ever seen. The second of his two made threes on the night caromed high off the back of the rim and slid gently into the basket giving the Boilermakers an early 9-2 lead. Before that point, the Illini were still putting together some decent possessions, they just weren’t leading to anything good for them. After Thompson’s shot, it felt like the absolute route was on, and Purdue was absolutely going to run away with it.
When you're hot, well, you're hot.— Purdue On BTN (@PurdueOnBTN) January 18, 2017
And @BoilerBall has opened the game H-O-T. https://t.co/fn9bwTJAuc
The game was never within 10 points the rest of the way, and Purdue once again looked like the most complete team in the conference. So, who will show up in the remaining games for the Boilermakers: this team, or the one that lost to Minnesota at home a few weeks back? That remains to be seen, but if its the former, Purdue is going to be fun to watch.
Isaac Haas lead all scorers with 24 points, while Caleb Swanigan recorded a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds–just another day at the office for arguably the conference’s best player.
Next, Purdue will host the surprising Penn State Nittany Lions on Saturday at noon. Pat Chambers’ squad’s wins over Michigan State and Minnesota sure turned some head in the Big Ten, and have everyone wondering whether they were flukes, or signs of things to come in Happy Valley. Either way, Purdue won’t be playing the Nittany Lions of old, and this could be a game of some interest to Big Ten Basketball fans.