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12/2 Big Ten Recap: Illinois Falls To Baylor

Recap all the Big Ten action from Wednesday.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Baylor Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten had a loaded slate on Wednesday, including marquee matchups for Illinois, Indiana, and Penn State. Several other national relevant Big Ten teams were also in action, including Michigan and Ohio State.

Let’s take a look at what happened.

Game of the Night:

-No. 2 Baylor Bears 82, No. 5 Illinois Fighting Illini 69

For 25 minutes or so, this very well might have been the best game of the young 2020-’21 season. The teams went back and forth, the stars delivered, the margin was razor thing. Illinois controlled things early, but Baylor clawed back and held a narrow lead at half. Unfortunately for the Illini, things gradually fell apart in the second half. The team’s offense just couldn’t deliver enough against a stout Baylor defense and came up short.

The loss dropped Illinois to 3-1 overall. And while the team ended up falling by double-digits, it felt like the Illini largely lived up to expectations. Illinois competed for the vast majority of the game against a high-level opponent and just came up a bit short. There’s still room for improvement, but there were a lot of encouraging signs.

Illinois will now get a few days off before facing off against Tennessee Martin at home on Saturday. Illinois figures to be a massive favorite in that one.

The Rest:

-Indiana Hoosiers 79, Stanford Cardinal 63

After the egg laid by Indiana on Tuesday afternoon, a lot of Hoosier fans probably had mixed feelings about the team getting back on the court so quickly. Nonetheless, Indiana was able to take care of business against a quality Stanford squad, grabbing a 16-point win thanks to some dominant defense and a 31-point outing for Trayce Jackson-Davis.

This was a big win for the Hoosiers and arguably the team’s best win of the young season. Stanford is currently 35th on KenPom and projects as a serious NCAA Tournament contender. With the win, Indiana will get a week off to recoup before facing off against Florida State on the road on December 9th.

-Michigan Wolverines 84, Ball State Cardinals 65

After a putrid outing against Oakland on Sunday, Wolverine fans were hoping for an improved performance on Wednesday at home against Ball State. Fortunately, that’s exactly what fans got. Michigan played a much cleaner game and cruised to an 84-65 win where Juwan Howard was able to unload the bench for the closing minutes. Isaiah Livers led the way with 21 points, three rebounds, and two assists. Jace Howard (Juwan Howard’s son) also saw his first college action, finishing with three minutes of playing time.

Michigan will hope to keep the positivity going in its next game at home against UCF on Sunday. Per KenPom, this will be the team’s most difficult game to date.

-No. 23 Ohio State Buckeyes 77, Morehead State Eagles 44

The Buckeyes were another team that had an underwhelming outing over the weekend and were looking to improve on things on Wednesday night. And thanks to some quality play from players like EJ Liddell and Duane Washington, Ohio State did just that. The Buckeyes ended up grabbing a 77-44 win in a game that felt over at halftime.

Ohio State will now prepare for a game against Alabama A&M at home on Saturday. This is the team’s last “buy” game before the gauntlet begins on December 8th with Notre Dame.

-Northwestern Wildcats 92, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 49 Golden Lions

After plenty of COVID-19 issues last week, Northwestern finally played its first game of the season on Wednesday, scoring a 43-point against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. And even if the Golden Lions aren’t a great team, Northwestern got some quality play from players like Miller Kopp and Chase Audige. The two combined for 33 points on the outing. Northwestern is now 1-0 and is set to host Chicago State on Saturday.

-Penn State Nittany Lions 72, VCU Rams 69

This was a bit of a sleeper game on Wednesday, but pitted two pretty intriguing teams against each other. KenPom had Penn State as solid favorites at tip and most expected the game to be pretty competitive throughout. And generally speaking, that’s exactly what happened. Penn State led for most of the evening, but things were close before the Nittany Lions grabbed a narrow 72-69 win thanks to a Myle Dread three-pointer in the final seconds. The game marked Jim Ferry’s first significant win as Interim Head Coach. Seth Lundy led the way with 32 points and four rebounds.

Penn State now sits at 2-0 and will hope to take the momentum from this one into a pretty challenging next few weeks. The Nittany Lions will next face a solid Seton Hall team at home on Sunday. It should be a tight game.