The Big Ten had three games on Wednesday and all three had plenty of drama. Rutgers faced Ohio State on the road, Penn State hosted Illinois, and Northwestern traveled to face off against an improved Indiana squad.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Northwestern Wildcats 74, Indiana Hoosiers 67
After Sunday’s surprising win over Michigan State, Wildcat fans were feeling pretty good about the team. However, most thought the magic would run out as Northwestern continued through Big Ten play. Pulling off one upset is notable, but happens. Nobody was expecting a trend.
But it’s starting to look that way for Northwestern.
The Wildcats went into Bloomington on Wednesday night and scored another marquee win, topping Indiana by a 74-67 margin. The game had multiple swings, including a late run from Indiana and Trayce Jackson-Davis. However, it wouldn’t be enough. Miller Kopp led the way with 13 points, three rebounds, and three assists. Chase Audige also hit some huge shots in the closing minutes to push Northwestern to the win.
With the win, Northwestern now sits at 5-1 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten play. It’s the first time the Wildcats have reached 2-0 in league play since the 2005-’06 season and the program’s first win against Indiana on the road since 2014. We’ll see if the magic of the last week can continue moving forward. Northwestern gets Ohio State at home on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Indiana drops to 5-3 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten play with the loss. What’s particularly disappointing is this loss derails what seemed like an improving trend from Indiana. The Hoosiers narrowly lost to a really good Florida State team on the road earlier this month and reeled off solid wins against North Alabama and Butler thereafter. But Indiana and Archie Miller will now have some questions to answer. Fans will hope the team can get back on track on the road against Illinois on Saturday.
-No. 18 Illinois Fighting Illini 98, Penn State Nittany Lions 81
Both teams entered this game trying to get back on track after recent losses. Illinois fell on the road to Rutgers on Sunday and Penn State had a week off after falling on the road against Michigan earlier in the month. Fortunately for Illini fans, Illinois was able to get the job done, scoring a 17-point win against the Nittany Lions.
With the win, Illinois improved to 6-3 overall and 2-1 in Big Ten play. Penn State dropped to 3-3 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten play with the loss. Illinois will return to action on Saturday at home against Indiana and Penn State will return to action on the 30th on the road against the Hoosiers.
-No. 23 Ohio State Buckeyes 80, No. 11 Rutgers Scarlet Knights 68
But for the Northwestern upset, this would have been the Game of the Day. The final margin was 12 points, but this game was far more competitive. Rutgers was in control for the early segments until Myles Johnson fouled out in the second half. It was the pivotal moment in the game, as Johnson’s exit led to a massive Buckeye comeback. Rutgers had no way to stop Ohio State down low with Johnson out and Cliff Omoruyi out as well. As such, Ohio State cut the deficit and went on to grab the win.
For Ohio State, this is a big one. The Buckeyes are now 7-1 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play and appear to be trending up with two top 30 KenPom wins over the last week. The team will now prepare for what’s looking like a challenging road game against Northwestern on Saturday. We’ll see if EJ Liddell and Seth Towns can get more into the flow by then.
On the other side, Rutgers fell to 6-1 overall and 2-1 in Big Ten play with the loss. And while fans are certainly disappointed with the team’s late game performance, it’s hard to feel too bad about what happened in Columbus. Rutgers was down its starting center and controlled much of the game before a series of questionable fouls killed what was left of its frontcourt. The Scarlet Knights will remain a factor moving forward. Rutgers will be back in action on Tuesday at home against Purdue.