With two Big Ten title contenders on the road, Thursday projected to be a fun night for the league and its fans. Purdue hoped to rebound after a rough stretch on the road against Wisconsin and Ohio State hoped to get revenge against Penn State.
Let’s take a look at how the games played out.
Game of the Night:
-Wisconsin Badgers 57, Purdue Boilermakers 53
This season hasn’t exactly been a great one for Badger fans. Despite optimistic preseason expectations, Wisconsin struggled out of the gate and entered Thursday’s matchup with an 11-16 overall record. The Badgers were also coming off a tough loss at home to Michigan on Sunday afternoon where the team fell behind early on.
However, Thursday night was a special one for the program. It was “Frank Kaminsky Night” and the program was raising Kaminsky’s number into the rafters. There was magic in the building and it, ultimately, carried over to the game itself.
While Purdue took control early on, Wissconsin gradually fought back. The two teams went into halftime tied at 21-21. By any measure, the game was an absolute slop fest on both sides. The only players who really played efficiently at all were Brad Davison and Carsen Edwards. Otherwise, it was inefficient offense on both sides.
In the second half, Purdue once again took the lead, but Wisconsin went on a run late in the game and was able to come out on top. The final score was 57-53 and fans immediately rushed the court afterward. It was Wisconsin’s biggest win of the season and it was probably Purdue’s worst loss of the season.
For Wisconsin, this win likely won’t mean that much. From an emotional perspective, it was a magical moment. Unfortunately, the team just isn’t close enough to postseason contention for it to change the season’s outlook. However, it was a nice way to honor Kaminsky on such a special night.
On the other side, however, this will have massive ramifications. Purdue was hoping to take the lead in the Big Ten title race on Thursday night, but now finds itself in a distant third behind Michigan State and Ohio State. More importantly, closing things up will be incredibly difficult given Michigan State’s easy remaining schedule. The loss also was a bit hit for the team’s hopes of getting a one seed.
Purdue will move on to face Penn State at home on Sunday and Wisconsin will return to action at home against Minnesota on Monday.
-Penn State Nittany Lions 79, Ohio State Buckeyes 56
Unlike the first game of the night, this one was never competitive. Penn State came out of the gate firing and never looked back. The Nittany Lions took a 45-22 lead into halftime and Tony Carr finished with 30 points and five rebounds. Ohio State was never close to having a shot to win the game.
Thursday was easily Penn State’s most impressive performance of the season and pushed the Nittany Lions to 19-9 overall and 9-6 in Big Ten play. The team now finds itself in the NCAA Tournament conversation with just three regular season games remaining. In fact, TRank now lists Penn State as the third team out of the field. Not bad for where things sat a few weeks ago.
On the other side, Ohio State has to feel disappointed with the effort it showed. The Buckeyes were in position to close out a Big Ten title this week and will now try to rebound on the road against Michigan on Sunday afternoon. Any loss from here on out likely gives the Big Ten title to Michigan State.
Both teams return to action on Sunday. Penn State goes on the road to face Purdue and Ohio State goes on the road to face Michigan.