The Big Ten only had one game on Thursday night, but it was a significant one between Michigan and Minnesota in Minneapolis. Both teams were hoping to come out with a win in a game that had Big Ten title and NCAA Tournament implications.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Day:
-No. 7 Michigan Wolverines 69, Minnesota Golden Gophers 60
Heading into this game, both teams had a lot riding on the line. Michigan needed to keep pace with Michigan State and Purdue in the Big Ten standings and Minnesota was hoping to grab a marquee win heading into the last few weeks of the regular season. The pressure was high for both sides.
Early on, Michigan jumped out to an early lead. Ignas Brazdeikis and Jordan Poole both hit some big shots to push the Wolverines to a 28-14 halftime lead. All told, Poole would finish with 22 points and two rebounds on the night. Minnesota got 18 points apiece from Jordan Murphy and Daniel Oturu, but it wasn’t enough. Michigan ended up grabbing a 69-60 road win over the Gophers.
There’s no debating that this was a significant win for the Wolverines. Not only does this keep Michigan atop the Big Ten standings, but it’s a road win over a fringe top 50 team in the NET rankings. While the Gophers may not be Duke or Virginia, going on the road and beating a team with that profile is certainly a resume boost.
Michigan will now prepare to enter arguably the most difficult portion of its regular season schedule. The Wolverines will get Michigan State at home on Sunday before facing Nebraska at home and concluding with road games at Maryland and Michigan State. That’s going to be an absolutely brutal stretch. We will see if John Beilein and company can figure out a way to navigate this challenging slate.
On the other side, Minnesota dropped its fifth game over the last six contests. And while this loss wasn’t terrible (Michigan is a top 10 team), this is still a lost opportunity. The Gophers are a bubble team and desperately need resume wins to move on the right side of things heading into Selection Sunday. A win like this would have made a huge impact. Regardless, Minnesota will look to get back on track on Sunday on the road against Rutgers.