The Big Ten might have only had three games on Sunday, but they were certainly significant matchups for the league and nationally. Michigan traveled to face Michigan State, Illinois hosted Purdue, and Minnesota and Northwestern faced off as well.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 14 Michigan State Spartans 87, No. 12 Michigan Wolverines 69
The biggest game of the day nationally took place in East Lansing as the Spartans hosted their arch-rival for the first of two regular season meetings between the two. Michigan State had sweep last year’s meetings following Michigan’s winning streak before that. The game figured to be a fun one between two of the Big Ten’s better teams.
And while Michigan was able to keep things relatively close, Michigan State pulled ahead in the first half and never looked back. Cassius Winston had an outstanding game and the team’s defense really prevented the Wolverines from getting open looks. All told, Michigan State grabbed an 87-69 win.
For Michigan State, a rivalry win is always going to be sweep, but this was a significant one. The win pushed the Spartans to 12-3 overall and 4-0 in league play. It was also Michigan State’s seventh straight win after a misstep against Duke to start December. The Spartans will hope to keep things rolling next Thursday at home against Minnesota.
On the other side, Michigan suffered its fourth loss of the season and third straight loss against a quality opponent. After a hot start, things have gotten a lot tougher for the Wolverines. The injury to Isaiah Livers has certainly played a role in that. Fans are hoping the team can bounce back against Purdue at home next Thursday.
Heading into this matchup, I don’t think anyone would have been surprised to hear that Illinois won, or even that it came in a convincing manner. However, it’s hard to imagine anyone expecting Purdue to be held to 37 (!!!) points in a 26-point loss. Not a single Boilermaker hit double digits or had an offensive rating of 90 or above. It was a dominating win for the Illini.
For Illinois, the win pushed the team to 10-5 overall and to 2-2 in league play. It also marked the team’s fourth straight win at home, dating back to the team’s upset win over Michigan on December 11th. Purdue’s resume isn’t super impressive right now, so the win won’t impact the NET ratings a ton right now. However, it’s still a big one because the Boilermakers remain highly rated in the advanced stats and could finish well. Illinois will hope to keep things rolling on Wednesday on the road against Wisconsin.
On the other side, it was obviously a disappointing night for Purdue and its fanbase. It was arguably the team’s worst performance of the season to date and has made many wonder whether Purdue has enough to make a serious NCAA push moving forward. The Boilermakers currently sit at just 9-6 overall and 2-2 in league play. We’ll find out a lot more about this team on Thursday when it travels to face Michigan.
This one largely went as expected, with Northwestern putting up a fight, but ultimately falling on the road against a better Minnesota team. The win pushed Minnesota to 8-6 overall and to 2-2 in league play. Meanwhile, Northwestern fell to 5-8 overall.
Minnesota will now prepare for another challenging road trip this week to Michigan State on Thursday night. Northwestern will hope to rebound on the road against Indiana on Wednesday.