The Big Ten had three games on Tuesday night and all had some drama. Maryland traveled to face Northwestern, Purdue hoped to get some revenge against Illinois, and Wisconsin hosted Nebraska in the late game.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 17 Maryland Terrapins 77, Northwestern Wildcats 66
This is one of those games that evolved dramatically over the course of the night. If you and someone else happened to watch different 10-minute portions of this game without knowing the score, you would have left with starkly different impressions of which team played better. Northwestern dominated early, the two teams exchanged blows in the next portion of the game, and Maryland dominated the game’s conclusion. All told, Maryland avoided the road upset and escaped with a 77-66 win.
Let’s be clear. I’m not going to sit here and call this a great night for Maryland. This is a game the Terps should have been able to win with relative ease. Maryland’s a better team than Northwestern and has a ton still ahead of it. The Wildcats probably aren’t going anywhere at season’s end. Simply put, Tuesday shouldn’t have been this stressful.
With that said, you have to give Maryland some props for managing to survive an upset scare like this. A lot of teams would have rolled over after getting down by double-digits in the first half. Northwestern was playing well and the Terps were reeling. However, Maryland figured it out and scored a win. Don’t be shocked if we look back in a few months and see this as being a significant win. The Terps will now return home and prepare to travel and face Indiana on the road on Sunday.
For Northwestern, this was another frustrating loss. Still, the team is playing better and has been close on a number of occasions the last few weeks. We’ll see if the Wildcats can figure things out on Sunday at home against Ohio State.
-No. 21 Illinois Fighting Illini 79, Purdue Boilermakers 62
If you had told me on Tuesday morning that Illinois went on the road and beat Purdue, I probably wouldn’t have been overly surprised. The Illini are a really good team and absolutely dominated Purdue in the first matchup between the two. However, if you had told me Illinois would go into Mackey and win by 17, I would have been shocked.
Of course, that’s exactly what ended up happening. Purdue’s offense was significantly better in this matchup than the last, but the Boilermakers just couldn’t stop Illinois. Kofi Cockburn finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds and led Illinois to the team’s fifth straight victory. Illinois now sits at 14-5 overall and 6-2 in Big Ten play after the win. Illinois will hope to keep things going on Saturday on the road against Michigan.
For Purdue, this is going to be a tough one to swallow. Losing to Illinois in a vacuum isn’t anything to be ashamed about, but the Boilermakers got dominated. Moreover, Purdue dropped to just 10-9 overall with this loss. The team desperately needs any wins it can get and this seemed like a great opportunity to get a quality win. Boilermaker fans will hope the team can bounce back on Friday at home against Wisconsin.
This game ended up being closer than some might have expected in the first half, but it eventually went as expected, with Wisconsin taking care of business at home. The win pushed the Badgers to 12-7 overall and to 5-3 in league play. Wisconsin will get back into action on Friday on the road against Purdue. Meanwhile, Nebraska will hope to bounce back on Saturday on the road against Rutgers.