The Big Ten only had one game on Monday night and it ended up being a pretty good one. Penn State went on the road and surprise Northwestern to score its first conference win of the season. It was welcome news for Nittany Lion fans.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Day:
Given that these teams were a combined 3-17 in Big Ten play entering Monday night, there wasn’t a lot of national excitement about this one. Penn State had lost 10 in a row and the Wildcats were quickly falling out of NCAA Tournament contention. Both teams may have had a lot of hoping coming into the season, but much of it had dissipated.
But even so, there were reasons to be intrigued by the matchup. Penn State was hoping to stop the bleeding and score its first league win and Northwestern still had decent odds at making the NIT. The Wildcats needed to hold serve against the Nittany Lions at home to remain on track toward the team’s postseason goals.
It wasn’t Duke vs North Carolina, but those are some decent storylines.
Early on, both teams kept it close. Penn State took a two-point lead into halftime thanks in part to a wonderful performance by freshman Rasir Bolton. He would end up finishing with 14 points and six rebounds on the night. Lamar Stevens also had a huge game and finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.
The second half largely remained the same. Northwestern would make a play and Penn State would match it. By the end, Penn State was able to grab a 59-52 road win to snap its 10-game losing streak. It was an emotional win for Pat Chambers and company.
For Penn State, this wouldn’t change much about the team’s season projections. The Nittany Lions have no shot at making the postseason at this point outside of a Big Ten Tournament run. But winning these games will certainly build some positive momentum moving forward. It could also help the Nittany Lions get a little better seeding for the conference tournament.
On the other side, Northwestern loses what projected to be a very winnable game at home. The Wildcats now sit at 12-10 overall and 3-8 in Big Ten play. At this point, it’s tough to see a Northwestern having a great shot at the NIT. Even in a loaded Big Ten, finishing with 15 or 16 wins isn’t going to be enough. This was a game the team needed to win.
Penn State will hope to continue its success on the road against Ohio State on Thursday. And Northwestern will hope to rebound on the road against Iowa on Sunday.