The Big Ten had four games on Monday night, including an intriguing showdown between Minnesota and Utah. Other potential NCAA contenders in action included Maryland and Penn State, who looked to keep things rolling.
Here’s a look at what happened on Monday.
Game of the Day:
-Minnesota Golden Gophers 78, Utah Utes 69
Without a doubt, Minnesota’s matchup against Utah was the biggest game on the docket for the Big Ten on Monday night. Utah entered as a top 80 team on KenPom and presented a key opportunity for the Gophers to add a quality non-conference win to the team’s resume. As such, there was a lot of pressure riding on the game.
Early on, things looked challenging for Minnesota. The team struggled with fouls and a multitude of players rotated in upfront. However, Jordan Murphy took over and had one of his more impressive outings, finishing with an impressive 17 rebounds and 11 rebounds. There were periods of the game where he looked unstoppable on the boards.
Minnesota ultimately ended up grabbing a 78-69 win to improve to 2-0 on the season. It’s important to reiterate here that this isn’t only a big win for Minnesota, but also the Big Ten as well. Utah isn’t a great team, but the league let so many of these type of games slip away last season. Minnesota closed the deal in this one and that’s an encouraging sign.
The Gophers will now get ready to head out to Vancouver this week. Minnesota faces a Texas A&M team that made last year’s Sweet 16 on Sunday night. It will be another opportunity for Minnesota to add a quality win.
The Terps improved to 3-0 on the year with an easy win over Monday night against an overmatched opponent. Bruno Fernando finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds and Jalen Smith added 12 points and five rebounds. Maryland will get back in action on Friday night with a home matchup against a feisty Hofstra team.
-Northwestern Wildcats 63, American Eagles 51
This was probably the Big Ten’s least covered game on Monday night, and for good reason. The Wildcats hosted an underwhelming American squad at home and were able to cruise to a double-digit win. American made things a tad interesting in the second half, but Northwestern was never truly in position to lose. Vic Law led the team with 26 points and six rebounds on the night.
While this game ended up being a 15-point win for Penn State, it felt a lot closer for longer segments of the game. The Nittany Lions finally put things away in the final minutes when a key technical foul was called on Jacksonville State. Lamar Stevens led things for Penn State with 25 points and nine rebounds. He looks like he could be in for a big season. The team will return to action on Thursday with a road matchup against DePaul.