The Big Ten had two important games on Tuesday night, including a top 20 KenPom matchup in East Lansing. Purdue went on the road to face Michigan State and Maryland traveled to face Minnesota. Both games will have significant implications for the league.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Day:
-No. 6 Michigan State Spartans 77, Purdue Boilermakers 59
This one was a bit of an odd ball on Tuesday night. While Michigan State was expected to get the win, nobody was quite sure what Purdue team would show up. The Boilermakers have gone up and down for much of the season. Purdue has looked like a Big Ten title contender on some nights and an NIT team on others. If the good team showed up, Michigan State would have its work cut out.
And early on, that appeared to be the case. Purdue came out firing and took an early lead. However, Purdue faded over the course of the first half and it looked like Michigan State would walk away with an easy win. But again, right when the Spartans were able to pull away, Purdue responded and got Michigan State’s lead down to four points. It seemed like the game was going to go down to the wire.
Unfortunately for Purdue, though, that’s not what happened. The Boilermakers were then ran off the court and ended up losing 77-59 on the road against Michigan State. It’s rare to see a game between good teams swing between close and blowout that many times. It also makes it hard to have any significant takeaways.
All told, this was a really nice win for Michigan State. The final margin was 18 points and the Spartans improved to 14-2 overall and 5-0 in Big Ten play. Even if it wasn’t always pretty, it’s hard to complain much about that finish. Michigan State will now prepare for a road trip to Penn State on Sunday.
On the other side, Purdue dropped to 9-6 overall and 2-2 in Big Ten play. Losing at Michigan State this season is nothing to be ashamed of, but it was another disappointing performance for the Boilermakers away from home. Fans will hope those struggles will end on Friday when Purdue travels to face Wisconsin.
Although this game slipped a bit under the radar nationally, it was a crucially important one for the league and two of its NCAA at-large hopefuls. Both Maryland and Minnesota entered this game on the fringe of the top 25 in the human polls and each had some momentum. The Terps had three straight wins and Minnesota had just knocked off Wisconsin.
During the course of the game, it was a back-and-forth affair. Maryland would get up and Minnesota would respond. The Gophers would pull ahead and the Terps would close the gap. Anthony Cowan and Jalen Smith were particularly impressive, combining for 48 points on the night. All told, Maryland got an 82-67 win over the Gophers.
This is likely going to be the reality for Maryland and Minnesota going forward. These teams are routinely going to be in highly competitive games during Big Ten play this season. Their seasons are quite literally going to ride on a few made or missed buckets. The Terps came out on top in this one, but things easily could have swung the other way. KenPom had this as a 50-50 game with less than eight minutes remaining.
Maryland will now prepare to face Indiana at home on Friday while Minnesota will host Rutgers at home on Saturday.