The Big Ten took nearly a week off for the Christmas holiday, but resumed play on Saturday with three teams in action. Wisconsin traveled to Tennessee and both Minnesota and Purdue also closed out non-conference play.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
While there’s still a lot of debate about how Tennessee and Wisconsin will look when we get closer to the postseason, Saturday still presented an interesting matchup. It put an inconsistent Wisconsin team on the road to face a Tennessee team ranked among the top 30 nationally on KenPom. Few expected the Badgers to come out with a win.
However, things took a dramatically different turn.
From the opening tip, Wisconsin absolutely dominated Tennessee. The Badgers got up double-digits in the first half and never looked back. Brevin Pritzl led the way with 17 points and three rebounds. All told, Wisconsin grabbed a 68-48 win on the road over the Vols. It was Tennessee’s second home loss in roughly two seasons.
Obviously, this is a big one for the Badgers. Yes, Tennessee was probably a bit overrated in the advanced stats and it’s hard to see the Vols finishing in the top 30 nationally. Still, beating a team like that on the road is huge, especially for a Wisconsin team that sat at 6-5 overall heading into tip-off. The Badgers are now 7-5 overall and in significantly better position for the team’s offseason hopes. Wisconsin will close out non-conference play next Tuesday against Rider.
-Minnesota Golden Gophers 89, FIU Panthers 62
There really wasn’t a ton to take away from this one. Minnesota faced an underwhelming FIU team at home and cruised to a 27-point victory as a result. The win pushed the Gophers to 7-5 overall and the team has now won four of its last five games. Daniel Oturu led the way with 21 points and 20 rebounds. Minnesota will now get some time off before going on the road to face Purdue next Thursday.
After losing to Butler in Indy last weekend, Purdue was hoping to bounce back at home against a relatively weak Central Michigan team. The Boilermakers ended up doing just that, scoring a 97-62 to win to improve to 8-5 overall on the season.
Purdue will now get a few days off before hosting Minnesota at home next Thursday. It figures to be a really interesting game between a red hot Gopher squad and a Purdue team that’s really dangerous at home.