The Big Ten had two exciting games on the docket on Wednesday night with Indiana going on the road to face Rutgers and Minnesota hosting a solid Penn State team. All told, Rutgers grabbed a win over the Hoosiers and the Gophers led a comeback effort to beat Penn State.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
Given how Minnesota and Penn State had played over the few weeks preceding this game, most figured this would be a pretty competitive matchup. The Gophers had struggled to close out wins against quality opponents and the Nittany Lions had dropped a few tough games. It seemed like something would have to give when the two teams met in Minneapolis on Wednesday night.
And the game generally lived up to the hype. The teams repeatedly exchanged leads and it actually looked like Penn State might be able to pull away early in the second half. However, Minnesota gradually came back near the end of the game and eventually held on for the win. All told, Minnesota scored a 75-69 victory over Penn State.
Every game in the Big Ten this year seems tremendously important for both sides, but this one really sticks out. While Minnesota and Penn State both seem to be in decent shape to make the NCAAs at season’s end, both need to improve their resumes in order to feel comfortable on Selection Sunday.
Obviously, Minnesota got the better end of the deal on Wednesday night. The Gophers now sit at 10-7 overall and have won three of the team’s last four games. Meanwhile, Penn State dropped to 12-5 overall and has now lost three in a row.
Both teams will now return to action over the weekend. Penn State will host Ohio State at home on Saturday and Minnesota will face Rutgers on the road on Sunday.
While some may be surprised to hear this, Indiana actually entered this matchup hoping to pull off the upset against a superior Scarlet Knights team. The Hoosiers haven’t been bad, but Rutgers has been better all season and were a horrendous matchup for Indiana. And that showed in this one, as Rutgers pulled away to score a 59-50 win over the Hoosiers.
The win pushed Rutgers to 13-4 and 7-1 over the team’s last eight games. Rutgers is firmly in the NCAA bubble discussion at this point and deserves to be there. The Scarlet Knights are currently 28th on KenPom and are legitimately good. If the team can beat Minnesota at home on Sunday, the NCAAs need to become an expectation. This looks like it’s finally going to be the year for Scarlet Knight fans.
On the other side, Indiana fell to 13-4 with this loss and will be sent home to try and regroup. The Hoosiers have done some nice things this season, but it feels like things could be on the verge of unraveling in the weeks to come. Indiana’s currently record is largely built on wins over bad teams. And with the strength of this year’s Big Ten, Indiana’s not going to have the chance to get anymore easy wins. The pressure will be on as the team heads west to face Nebraska on the road on Saturday.