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1/24 Big Ten Recap: Purdue knocks off Spartans on the road

A three game Big Ten slate was highlighted by Swanigan’s 25-point, 17-rebound performance.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

There were only three Big Ten games on the schedule tonight and it would be pretty safe to say that there were clear cut favorites in each of them. All three games were played between one school definitely slated to make the tourney and another school that probably won’t.

Here’s a recap of Super Tuesday night’s action, highlighted by yet another incredible effort by Caleb Swanigan.

Game of the Night:

-#20 Purdue 84, Michigan State 73.

This game was our pick for game of the week, and it mostly didn’t disappoint...until Purdue really started pulling away. At that point, it was hard not to feel a bit bad for Sparty. Sparty isn’t alone there, though. Purdue might just be the cruelest team in the Big Ten and when they’re at their best, how can you not pity the fool that has to step into the gym against them?

Their starting front court can absolutely light it up from outside on any given night and they can dominate your from inside the paint with Vince Edwards, Isaac Haas and of course, the Big Ten’s best player, Caleb Swanigan.

I’d like to talk about Swanigan now, because he’s really, really good.

Notably, Michigan State brilliantly turned the pettiness all the way up for this game. To welcome Caleb Swanigan–once an MSU commit–to Breslin, they encouraged the Sparty faithful to yell “Caleb” whenever he had the ball.

They wanted to taunt him. It did not work.

Caleb Swanigan dropped 25 points and pulled down 17 total boards. He was completely dominant, and this type of performance is becoming the norm for him.

Early on in the game, it actually looked like the Spartans had a great shot to pull this one out. Miles Bridges had 11 first half points, and was also rebounding well on the defensive end. Here’s the problem though; Bridges scored a game-high 33 points tonight, the other 4 Michigan State starters scored a total of 21. That’s less than ideal, and it’s what allowed the Boilermakers to begin to pull away.

Midway through the second half, Purdue took a four point lead on a Dakota Mathis three pointer, and they had no problem expanding on that lead, and maintaining it to the finish line.

As the final buzzer sounded, it was clear, despite the Spartans best efforts, you cannot simply rattle a talent like Caleb Swanigan.

Both teams take the floor again Sunday afternoon. Michigan State will stay home to play their in-state rivals the Michigan Wolverines, while Purdue travels to Lincoln where they’ll meet Nebraska.

The Rest:

–#22 Maryland 67, Rutgers 55

Yup, Rutgers is not good. Corey Sanders is good and plenty entertaining, but man are they ever not good at this whole basketball thing.

This game was somewhat close at the midway point; Maryland lead just 34-29 and it looked like the Scarlet Knights were hanging around. But that very quickly changed at the beginning of the second half, though.

Despite being out rebounded 40-39 and turning it over 18 times, Maryland’s combination of Melo Trimble (17 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists), and freshman Kevin Huerter (11 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists) helped carry the Terps to a relatively routine win. The win propelled the Terrapins to an 18-2 (6-1) record, the program’s best mark at this point in a season since 1998-99.

As for Rutgers, this loss drops their conference record to 1-7 with Wisconsin looming on Saturday afternoon. That might not be a game any of you should watch. That includes you, Wisconsin fans. Watching this game would just be a cruel thing to do.

Maryland also plays their next game on Saturday. They’ll be travelling to Minneapolis to play the Gophers–a game of some significance for the Big Ten moving forward. Thomas had the game as an honorable mention for BTPH game of the week, and said this of the matchup:

On the other side, this is a chance for Minnesota to score a huge win at home over a team that looks like it’s a safe bet for the NCAA Tournament. Minnesota has a few nice wins, but this would be another one to add to the resume.

In short, this game is going to feature two quality teams with a lot on the line. This will also offer Maryland a chance to makeup for last season’s debacle in Minneapolis.

–#15 Wisconsin 82, Penn State 55

I feel like all three of these games were pretty similar. The halftime score of this game was 36-33, Badgers. The score 3 minutes into the second half?

43-33, Badgers.

Penn State did a decent job of sticking around early on. Freshman Tony Carr and veteran Step Garner each had solid first halves, and the Nittany Lions were getting just enough stops to be able to hang in there. But Penn State opened the second half making 4 of their first 18 shots, a paltry mark and a less than ideal way to hang around a team as explosive as Wisconsin. Penn State quickly fell behind the Badgers, who were taking full advantage of Penn State’s turnovers. There were a lot of Penn State turnovers.

Vitto Brown put in 16 points and 6 boards, Ethan Happs had 14 and 8 while Bronson Koenig had a very ho-hum 20 point, 2 rebound and 3 assist game. Yep, the Badgers are good, in case you weren’t aware.

The Nittany Lions committed 17 turnovers to Wisconsin’s 11, and were out rebounded 39-25. That’s not going to get you many wins, especially one where your highest scoring starter can manage just 12 points. It was Tony Carr, and his 12 points and 4 assists came along with 3 turnovers.

Before we knew it, what was once a close game started to look like a blowout. Penn State is better than they've been in past years, but they're still nowhere near Wisconsin’s level. This was their third straight conference loss, who now own a 3-5 Big Ten mark. They’ll be back in action Saturday afternoon at home against Illinois.

As for Wisconsin, they just keep rolling along. KenPom has them as the 11th best team in the country, just one spot behind Purdue. Their conference record is 6-1, with their only loss coming to those Boilermakers. Their next game is against Rutgers at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. The world’s most famous arena will play host to the world’s most lopsided blowout. I could have been more cruel with that line, but I won't be.