The Big Ten had two games on Saturday, including a marquee showdown in Iowa City. The first game featured Rutgers traveling to face Minnesota and the second sent Ohio State on the road to face Iowa. Both would have implications for the league’s NCAA hopes.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Day:
-Iowa Hawkeyes 72, No. 16 Ohio State Buckeyes 62
This is one of those games that felt quietly important. By that, I mean a game that doesn’t seem particularly important on its face, but ends up being rather significant at the end of the season. This one really felt like that for a variety of reasons. Particularly, because both teams really needed a win in this one.
Entering the game, Ohio State was reeling. The Buckeyes had lost two straight for the first time this season, including a road loss to Rutgers on Wednesday night. On the other side, Iowa had gained some momentum. The Hawkeyes had just beaten Nebraska at home and Northwestern on the road. A win here could push Iowa on the right side of the bubble.
During the first 30 minutes of action, this one was pretty competitive. Ohio State actually narrowly led at halftime and CJ Jackson came up with 10 points. However, as the second half developed, Iowa simply pulled away. By the final minutes of the game, it was apparent that Iowa was walking out with a win. All told, Iowa grabbed a 72-62 victory.
For Iowa, this is obviously a pretty significant win. The Hawkeyes are now 14-3 and don’t have a bad loss on the team’s resume. Iowa has very much moved from the bubble into the “likely” NCAA range over the last week or so. The Hawkeyes will look to keep things rolling next week on the road against Penn State on Wednesday.
On the other side, Ohio State is reeling at the moment. The Buckeyes have lost three straight and have shown some major vulnerabilities. This is a team that’s incredibly dependent on Kaleb Wesson. And when he’s not at his best, things can get rough. Ohio State will look to rebound on Friday at home against Maryland.
Let’s be honest, there probably wouldn’t have been much intrigue in this game if Rutgers hadn’t beaten Ohio State earlier in the week to get on the national radar. A pretty solid Minnesota team was hosting an opponent well outside the top 100 on KenPom. That’s not exactly the matchup that people losing their minds about.
But with Rutgers’ win over Ohio State, this one did have some intrigue. Many were curious to see whether the Scarlet Knights could continue the magic against the Gophers. Likewise, could Minnesota get back on track after losing to Maryland at home?
Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the case for Scarlet Knight fans. Minnesota got out to a relatively early lead and never looked back. Amir Coffey finished with 29 points and four assists and pushed Minnesota to an 88-70 win.
For Minnesota, this won’t help the team’s resume all that much, but it does remove the potential for a bad loss. As a result, Minnesota now sits at 13-3 overall. The Gophers will now prepare for a road trip to face Illinois on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Rutgers will look to rebound on the road against Purdue on Tuesday.