The Big Ten had a loaded slate on Saturday night, including marquee matchups for teams like Illinois, Maryland, and Ohio State. Other nationally relevant teams like Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin were also in action.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Day:
-No. 15 Ohio State Buckeyes 80, UCLA Bruins 66
With UCLA’s recent struggles, this game had lost a lot of its luster before tipoff. However, it was still a marquee matchup and an opportunity for Ohio State to end non-conference play on a high note. Two things that shouldn’t be underrated.
And for the most part, Ohio State did just that. UCLA was in the game for awhile, but the Buckeyes pulled away and were in control throughout. CJ Jackson had a particularly great game with 22 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Kaleb Wesson also had 15 points.
Despite the loss to Syracuse last month, Ohio State has put together a pretty impressive resume heading into the close of the year. The Buckeyes are 11-1 overall and have four wins against top 100 opponents, including three away from home. That’s going to do big things for the team on Selection Sunday.
Ohio State will now prepare for a game against High Point at home on Saturday before the restart of Big Ten play. The team should be in good shape to get to 12-1 overall.
-Missouri Tigers 79, Illinois Fighting Illini 63
Despite a frustrating start to the season, fans were hoping that Illinois could surprise yet again in the annual Bragging Rights showdown against Missouri on Saturday. Unfortunately, that would not be the case. Illinois started hot, but faded down the stretch and ended up falling against the Tigers by a 79-63 margin.
Following the loss, Illinois now sits at 4-8 overall and will prepare to return home to face Florida Atlantic next Saturday. And with Big Ten play about to restart, it’s hard to feel good about where this Illini team will end up in March.
-No. 22 Indiana Hoosiers 94, Jacksonville Dolphins 64
This was the second in two games against underwhelming competition at home for the Hoosiers. Early on, it looked like this one may end up being too close for comfort for Indiana, but the team was able to pull away for a 94-64 win.
With the win, Indiana improved to 11-2 and will now prepare for the restart of conference play. Barring something weird happening against Illinois on January 3rd, Indiana will enter its matchup against undefeated Michigan thereafter at 12-2. It would be quite the game.
-No. 23 Iowa Hawkeyes 110, Savannah State Tigers 64
This was the second leg in a three-game stretch for the Hawkeyes were the team faced underwhelming opponents at home. And as such, the final result wasn’t very surprising. Iowa cruised to an easy win over one of the worst teams in the country. Iowa will return to action on Saturday at home against Bryant.
-Seton Hall Pirates 78, Maryland Terrapins 74
The Big Ten’s most disappointing performance on Saturday came by way of Maryland, who was looking to add a marquee win at home over Seton Hall. Unfortunately, the Terps couldn’t overcome a horrid start and fell to the Pirates by a 78-74 margin. Maryland had an opportunity to steal the game late, but just couldn’t get the job done.
This loss is a tough one for the Terps. Not only because the team was in position to grab a win, but primarily because it means that Maryland will head into Christmas with a marquee win on its resume. That’s not good news for a team that could end up on the bubble. As such head coach Mark Turgeon and his staff will feel plenty of pressure moving forward. Maryland’s next game is on Saturday at home against Radford.
-No. 4 Michigan Wolverines 71, Air Force Falcons 50
Although Michigan entered this game with an 11-0 record, the team had struggled over the last few weeks. The Wolverines nearly lost to Northwestern, then had trouble pulling away from mediocre South Carolina and Western Michigan teams. Fans were hoping that Michigan would be able to play better on Saturday.
Generally speaking, Michigan did just that. The Wolverines pulled away in the second half and were able to unload the bench in route to a 71-50 win. Michigan will now be off until Saturday when the Wolverines host Binghamton.
-No. 25 Nebraska Cornhuskers 86, Cal State Fullerton Titans 62
This was a game that didn’t draw much national attention, but it actually looked pretty intriguing. Nebraska was the better team, but Cal State Fullerton had pushed many quality opponents so far this season. Husker fans were left hoping that Nebraska could pull away early and add one more win to its resume.
And that’s generally what happened. Nebraska didn’t dominate the game, but gradually pulled away throughout. The Huskers were in control and were clearly the better team in route to an 86-62 win. James Palmer led the team with 23 points. Nebraska now sits at 10-2 and will close non-conference play at home next Saturday.
-Rutgers Scarlet Knights 68, Columbia Lions 65 (OT)
After losing four straight, Rutgers went into its matchup on Saturday afternoon hoping to get back on track against a pretty weak Columbia team. However, things wouldn’t be quite so easy. Columbia led for much of the game and was in position to win in the final minutes. Rutgers needed a comeback effort and a solid performance in overtime to come out with a 68-65 win over the Lions on Saturday.
Geo Baker and Eugene Omoruyi both scored double-digits, but it was Shaq Carter who was the surprise. He finished with 13 points and six rebounds and was a key reason that Rutgers came out with the win on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights will now be off until next Saturday when the team hosts Maine.
-No. 16 Wisconsin Badgers 84, Grambling State Tigers 53
This was the second of two underwhelming opponents at home for the Badgers and the team acquitted itself very well. Wisconsin pulled away early and never looked back in route to an 84-53 win. As a result, Wisconsin improved to 10-2 on the season.
Wisconsin will now prepare for a road trip to Western Kentucky on Saturday. A win there would certainly help to boost the team’s resume heading into the restart of Big Ten play.