Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 14 Rutgers Scarlet Knights 81, Purdue Boilermakers 76
This game seemingly featured two teams trending in opposite directions. Purdue was coming off a solid win over Northwestern on Christmas Day, while Rutgers had just lost to Ohio State and would be down two of its best players in Ron Harper and Cliff Omoruyi. While the game was in Pitscataway, it had the makings of a Purdue win.
Unfortunately for the Boilermakers, that’s not what ended up happening.
Rutgers came out of the gates firing and the Scarlet Knights got a big night from Montez Mathis, who finished with 25 points and five rebounds. Rutgers would relinquish its lead later on, but had enough to recover and grab an 81-76 win. Geo Baker also finished with 19 points and six rebounds on the night.
For Rutgers, this win speaks volumes about the team and its long-term potential. Most teams couldn’t overcome the loss of one starter, but the Scarlet Knights just beat a top 25ish Purdue team without two of them. That’s a remarkable achievement. It also pushes the team to 7-1 and 3-1 in Big Ten play.
On the other side, Purdue fell to 7-4 overall and 2-2 in Big Ten play with the loss. There’s little debating this was a blown opportunity from the Boilermakers. Unfortunately, the team had a rough shooting night (26.9 percent from three) and the defense really underwhelmed, allowing 1.27 points per possession on the night.
Both teams have some interesting games slated in the coming days. Rutgers will get a top 10 Iowa team at home on Saturday and Purdue will get Illinois on the road on the same day. They both look like really challenging games.
-No. 10 Iowa Hawkeyes 87, No. 19 Northwestern Wildcats 72
This looked like the best game heading into Tuesday night, but it didn’t end up being that great. Outside of a nice surge from the Wildcats early in the second, Iowa remained in control and cruised to a 15-point win. Jordan Bohannon had 24 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Luka Garza finished with 18 points.
Frankly, this felt a little bit like the rubber meeting the round for Northwestern. After an incredible two weeks that included three upset wins, this felt like a bit of a reality check for the Wildcats. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Assuming Northwestern would tear through one of the deepest Big Tens in modern history without a few missteps was absurd. The team was always going to lose a few games like this. Fans just have to hope it doesn’t become a trend.
The win pushed Iowa to 8-2 overall and 2-1 in Big Ten play and sets up a monster battle between the Hawkeyes and Scarlet Knights on Saturday. For Northwestern, the loss drops the Wildcats to 6-2 overall and 3-1 in Big Ten play. Northwestern will now prepare for a matchup against a presently undefeated Michigan team on the road on Sunday.