After last weekend, the Big Ten looked like it might end up moving into conference play in a manageable position. Several teams pulled off monster upsets and hope was spreading among fans. Unfortunately, much of that success was undone over the last week, as the Big Ten struggled to finish things off well in December.
And those struggles didn’t disappear on Friday night.
Here’s what happened.
Game of the Day:
-Oklahoma Sooners 104, Northwestern Wildcats 78
Over the course of the last month, Northwestern looked like it had turned things around. The Wildcats had won four games in a row and five of the team’s last six. And considering that the lone loss came on the road against a loaded Purdue squad, Northwestern appeared to be turning the corner and rounding into form.
But that train can screeching to a halt on Friday night.
While fans knew going on the road and beating Oklahoma would be difficult, Northwestern was utterly dominated and uncompetitive for the vast majority of the night. Chris Collins had no answer for Sooner guard Trae Young, who finished with 31 points and 12 assists on the evening. The halftime score was 68-38.
Northwestern will now move on to face Brown at home next Saturday before moving into the heart of league play. The Wildcats are 54th on KenPom and have a lot of work to do to make the NCAA Tournament this time around.
-Iowa Hawkeyes 80, Colorado Buffaloes 73
The biggest bright spot of the night came out of North Dakota, where Iowa took down Colorado on a neutral court. Maishe Dailey and Isaiah Moss led the Hawkeyes with 16 points apiece as Iowa fought its way to a hard earned victory.
Colorado is far from an elite opponent, but the Buffaloes are good enough to help boost Iowa’s resume heading into league play. Iowa will Northern Illinois at home next Friday before opening up the heart of league play against Michigan.
-Nebraska Cornhuskers 85, Delaware State Hornets 68
While the Hornets are rated as one of the worst teams in the country, Nebraska was able to take care of business and come out of the contest with a 20 point win. The Huskers improved to 9-5 on the season and will get Stetson at home next Friday. James Palmer had 18 points for Nebraska in the win.
-Rider Broncs 71, Penn State Nittany Lions 70
Perhaps no team did more damage to the Big Ten on Friday night than Penn State. After opening the season at 10-3 overall, Penn State figured to enter January with a bit of momentum. The Nittany Lions had yet to secure a marquee win, but the team had beaten all of its lower-tier opponents.
Well, until Friday night.
On Friday, Penn State let Rider come into its building and steal a win. Penn State’s offense was inconsistent all night and Tony Carr finished with a 75 offensive rating. With less than a minute remaining, Penn State had 98.5 percent odds to win, but let it slip away. It was a crushing loss for what appeared to be a rising program.
Penn State will face Coppin State next at home on Saturday. Another loss would put the team’s NCAA Tournament hopes on life support.
-Stony Brook Seawolves 75, Rutgers Scarlet Knights 73
Another Big Ten team that disappointed on Friday night was Rutgers. After scoring a program-defining win last Saturday against Seton Hall, the team fell on its face on Friday. While Rutgers was able to push it to overtime, Stony Brook came out on top and killed much of the positivity that had been building in Piscataway.
No single player is ever responsible for a result like this, but one does have to look at Corey Sanders as a key factor in the loss. He finished with eight points on 14 attempts on the evening and with an underwhelming 74 offensive rating. Rutgers will hope to regroup for Hartford at home next Thursday.