Although Wednesday’s slate wasn’t a loaded one for the Big Ten, it did feature a matchup with Big Ten title implications on the line, as Ohio State traveled to face Northwestern. Additionally, Iowa went on the road to face off against Rutgers.
Let’s take a look at how the game played out.
Game of the Night:
Since the start of the season, Ohio State has been able to outperform expectations and, meanwhile, surprise both fans and media members alike. Despite projecting as one of the worst Big Ten teams entering the season, Ohio State entered Wednesday’s clash at 15-4 overall and 6-0 in Big Ten play. It’s been quite a run for the Buckeyes.
However, even with the great start, many have expected that Ohio State would “fall back to Earth” in the coming weeks. And with a tricky road game on Wednesday night, many had circled that as a chance for the Buckeyes to slip up.
Early on, this looked like it could be the case. The Wildcats came out with some fire and held a 13-11 lead after roughly 10 minutes into the game. Vic Law and Scottie Lindsey went to work, finishing with 14 and 13 points on the night, respectively.
But as the game continued, Ohio State took control. The Buckeyes had a 33-25 lead at halftime and extended that early in the second half. All told, Ohio State grabbed a 71-65 road win to improve the team’s record to 16-4 overall and 7-0 in Big Ten play. Meanwhile, Northwestern dropped to 11-9 overall and 2-5 in league games.
For Ohio State, the player who really impressed was CJ Jackson, who finished with 12 points and eight assists on the night. And that was good news for the Buckeyes, as star forward Keita Bates-Diop had an off night. He ended up finishing with 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting and an 87 offensive rating.
If the Buckeyes are truly going to pose a title threat to Purdue, these are the type of games the team needs to win. Obviously, Chris Holtmann and his squad got the job done on Wednesday. Ohio State will now move on to face Minnesota on a neutral court on Saturday in New York City.
On the other side, Northwestern let one of its biggest remaining opportunities slip away on its home court. The Wildcats were already a fringe hope for the NCAA Tournament, but a potential NIT bid is evaporating quickly as well. Northwestern will hope to get back on track at home against Penn State on Saturday.
-Rutgers Scarlet Knights 80, Iowa Hawkeyes 64
Let’s be honest, there wasn’t exactly a lot riding on Wednesday’s game between Iowa and Rutgers. Both teams have struggled so far this season and neither is in serious postseason contention, at this point. However, it was an intriguing battle that could end up determining Big Ten Tournament seeding at season’s end.
Ultimately, Rutgers scored a blowout victory over Iowa by a final score of 80-64. Notably, this is the team’s first double-digit win over a Big Ten opponent since a matchup against Minnesota in 2016 and only its second such victory, ever. As such, Scarlet Knight fans have to be excited.
Iowa will now hope to rebound at home against Purdue on Saturday and avoid falling below .500 this season. Rutgers will go on the road to face Michigan on Sunday.