The Big Ten opened the 2020-’21 season on Wednesday and had a plethora of great games for fans to take in. Nebraska opened things up around noon and the games went well into the evening with Wisconsin tipping off around 10:00 p.m.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Purdue Boilermakers 77, Liberty Flames 64
While Purdue was in control of this one throughout, it ended up being a little closer than Boilermaker fans would have liked. Things were relatively sloppy and Purdue committed just enough fouls and turnovers to keep Liberty in the game. Fortunately, Purdue was able to put things away in the final minutes.
The star of the game was freshman Zach Edey, who finished with 19 points and five rebounds. And while he benefited from an undersized Liberty squad, he did work inside. Fans are hoping he will be able to remain a contributor off the bench. Jade Ivey also had a nice debut with 12 points. Purdue will be back in action on Thanksgiving Day against Clemson.
-No. 8 Illinois Fighting Illini 122, North Carolina A&T Aggies 60
For a few minutes, it looked like Illinois might let North Carolina A&T hang around in this one. The Aggies were able to get a few nice buckets and Illinois’ defense hadn’t settled in yet. But as mentioned, it was just a few minutes Illinois then proceeded to cruise to a dominant 122-60 win. Freshman Adam Miller had a breakout game with 28 points on 12 field goal attempts. The Illini will play again on Thursday at home against Chicago State. Illinois figures to be heavily favored yet again.
-Indiana Hoosiers 89, Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles 59
Hoosier fans are hoping this is the year for Archie Miller and company. And if the first game is a sign of things to come, fans should be excited. Indiana was absolutely dominant in this one, imposing its will on both sides of the court. The Hoosiers played stout defense and got some key contributions from Trayce Jackson-Davis to grab the win. Indiana will now have a few days off before preparing for a huge game against Providence on Monday.
-No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes 97, North Carolina Central Eagles 67
Like the Illinois game noted above, this one was a competitive for a few minutes before Iowa took over. The Hawkeyes ended up with a convincing lead at halftime and never looked back. Luka Garza led the way with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Keegan Murray also played a nice game with 12 points, seven rebounds, and one assist. Iowa will now be off until Friday when the team tips off against Southern at home.
-Maryland Terrapins 85, Old Dominion Monarchs 67
From a ratings perspective, this projected to be the game of the day for the Big Ten. Old Dominion was a top 100ish team and Maryland entered this season with some major questions after watching Anthony Cowan and Jalen Smith depart for the pros. Instead, Maryland cruised to an impressive 85-67 win. Eric Ayala led the way with 19 points, five rebounds, and three assists. Transfers Jairus Hamilton and Galin Smith also played well for the Terps in their debuts. Maryland will hope to keep things rolling on Friday at home against Navy.
-No. 25 Michigan Wolverines 96, Bowling Green Falcons 82
Heading into Wednesday, many thought this could be a trap game for the Wolverines. Bowling Green was coming off a productive 2019-’20 season and had a star guard in Justin Turner on the roster. And for segments, it looked that way. Turner had his way with Michigan for much of the night and finished with 24 points.
However, Michigan’s offense scored a blistering 1.3 points per possession and had five players score double-digits, led by 19 points for Chaundee Brown off the bench. And but for a three-point explosion by Bowling Green’s Trey Diggs in the closing minutes, this would have been a pretty lopsided affair. Michigan will now get ready to face Oakland at home on Sunday. It should be a fun in-state matchup.
-No. 13 Michigan State Spartans 83, Eastern Michigan Eagles 67
The Spartans started slow out of the gate on Wednesday, but were eventually able to grab a 16-point win over a feisty Eastern Michigan squad. Foster Loyer led the way with 20 points and two assists. Joey Hauser also performed admirably in his debut with 15 points. Michigan State ended up playing a litany of players and unloading the bench in the closing minutes. The Spartans will now have a few days off before facing off against Notre Dame at home on Saturday. It figures to be one of the better games for the Big Ten this week.
-Minnesota Golden Gophers 99, Green Bay Phoenix 69
Nobody was sure what to expect out of the Gophers this season with the loss of Daniel Oturu, but things looked great on Wednesday night. Minnesota got up early against Green Bay and cruised to a 30-point win over a regional foe. Marcus Carr led the way with 35 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Minnesota will be off tomorrow, but will be back in action on Friday night at home against North Dakota.
-Nebraska Cornhuskers 102, McNeese State Cowboys 55
The first year of the Fred Hoiberg experiement didn’t go well, but things got off to a better start in year two, as Nebraska cruised to an easy win over against McNeese State. The Huskers were up big at halftime and never looked back. Trey McGowens led the way with 14 points, three rebounds, and three assists. It was the highest-scoring game of the Hoiberg era and a great sign of things to come. Nebraska will hope to keep things rolling on Thursday against a much better Nevada team at home.
-No. 23 Ohio State Buckeyes 94, Illinois State Redbirds
The Buckeyes played a lot of new faces in the team’s opener, but the results looked the same. Ohio State cruised to a convincing win over Illinois State and will now prepare for a matchup against UMass Lowell at home on Sunday. California transfer Justice Sueing led the way with 19 points and eight rebounds. The team’s defense also held up well, holding Illinois State to 0.88 points per possession.
-No. 24 Rutgers Scarlet Knights 86, Sacred Heart Pioneers 63
From a matchup perspective, there wasn’t much to take away from this one. Rutgers faced an overmatched opponent and cruised to a nice opening win. However, we did get a significant development during the game that could have ramifications down the road. Star guard Geo Baker went down with a lower body injury and left the game. Nobody is quite sure of the severity of the injury at the time I’m writing this recap, but it’s going to be a big story line to watch. Rutgers needs Baker available if the team is going to achieve its season goals. The team will return to action on Friday night at home against Fairleigh Dickinson. Baker is not expected to play.
-No. 7 Wisconsin Badgers 77, Eastern Illinois Panthers 67
While the score here looks competitive, Wisconsin controlled this one throughout. The Badgers were up Big at half and let their foot off the gas in the second half. Nate Reuvers led the way with 18 points and nine rebounds. Wisconsin will hope to close out things better on Friday at home against Arkansas Pine-Bluff.