The Big Ten had an interesting slate on Tuesday, featuring a marquee showdown between Illinois and Minnesota in Minneapolis. Northwestern and Wisconsin were also in action, hoping to continue their positive momentum.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 13 Illinois Fighting Illini 92, Minnesota Golden Gophers 65
When you try to project a trap game, there are usually a few factors you look for, such as a quality team on the road against an underrated opponent or a highly volatile offense. And heading into Tuesday, there seemed to be a lot of these at play. Illinois was certainly going to be favored, but the Illini had been inconsistent, Minnesota was undefeated, and both teams had shown inconsistency. If the Gophers could play well, maybe magic would happen.
But of course, that didn’t happen.
Instead, we got to watch Illinois’ most impressive performance of the season.
Illinois entered this game have lost two of its last three games and reeling from a loss to Missouri last Saturday. But none of that showed on Tuesday thanks to a 33-point and 13-rebounds performance from Kofi Cockburn. It was arguably the best performance of his young career. Adam Miller also chipped in 14 points. It was a crucial win to get Illinois back on the right side of things heading into a key stretch.
On the other side, it was a tough one to stomach for Minnesota. The team’s offense was an utter disaster and the Gophers had nothing to slow down Cockburn down low. Liam Robbins had trouble all night and followed out by time things were done. Richard Pitino and his staff desperately need to find someone who can create outside of Marcus Carr. Otherwise, things could get ugly in the months ahead.
Moving forward, Illinois get a few days off before facing an impressive Rutgers squad on the road on Sunday. Meanwhile, Minnesota will look to rebound on Sunday at home against a really solid Saint Louis team.
-Northwestern Wildcats 100, Quincy Hawks 48
This one was a late scheduling after Northwestern saw some recent cancellations. Nonetheless, it didn’t prove to be a particularly entertaining game. The Wildcats cruised to a 52-point win and Miller Kopp led the way with 23 points. Northwestern now sits at 3-1 with the win and will prepare for a matchup against Michigan State at home on Sunday.
-No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers 77, Loyola (Chicago) Ramblers 63
Like Northwestern’s matchup against Quincy, this was a game recently scheduled to replace one lost to a COVID-19 cancellation. And the matchup looked pretty good on paper. Loyola (Chicago) was 3-0 overall and ranked 53rd nationally on KenPom. It’s about as good of a game as you can hope for on short notice.
And the game itself proved pretty entertaining. Wisconsin held a narrow lead through the first half before eventually pulling away in the second thanks to some great play from Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice. The two guards combined for 34 points on the night and really kept things moving offensively.
The win pushed Wisconsin to 5-1 overall heading into a marquee matchup with Louisville at home on Saturday. The game against the Cardinals was rescheduled from last week and is technically a Big-Ten ACC Challenge pairing.