The Big Ten had an absolutely loaded slate of games on Sunday, with eight teams in action and two ranked teams playing on the road. We ended up seeing both of those ranked teams go down and two other dramatic results.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 25 Ohio State Buckeyes 79, No. 7 Maryland Terrapins 72
This one set up to be a thriller and ended up delivering. Maryland went into Columbus with a nine-game winning streak and saw it snapped by a Buckeye squad playing really well. The game wasn’t extremely close throughout, but Maryland fought really hard in the second half and nearly pulled off the comeback. Luther Muhammad finished with 22 points and five rebounds.
For Ohio State, this could very well end up going down as the team’s biggest win of the regular season. The Terps are undeniably a top 10 team at this point and knocking them off will go a long way toward the Buckeyes’ NCAA seeding, and to help firm things up to ensure Ohio State makes the field. Ohio State will return to action on Thursday on the road against Nebraska. Meanwhile, Maryland will hope to bounce back in another road game on Wednesday night. This time, the Terps will face Minnesota.
-Indiana Hoosiers 68, No. 9 Penn State Nittany Lions 60
Let’s be honest. After Indiana was throttled by Michigan on the road a week ago, most were pretty down on the Hoosiers. Many were criticizing Archie Miller and opining as to how his tenure in Bloomington might end. But Indiana silenced those critics in a strong fashion this week, beating Minnesota on the road on Wednesday night and following up on that with an upset victory over Penn State on Sunday. Indiana dominated early and was able to hold off a charging Nittany Lion squad in the second half.
The Hoosiers improved to 18-9 overall with the win and are now likely just a win away from locking up an NCAA bid. Fans will hope that comes on Thursday when the team returns to action on the road against Purdue. It’s been a remarkable bounce back for a group that seemed on the verge of sliding off the rails.
Unfortunately for Penn State fans, the team has now lost two in a row and will have a really tough followup to Sunday’s loss at home against Rutgers on Wednesday. The Scarlet Knights are another team desperate for a win or two down the stretch, which should make for quite a battle this week.
-Minnesota Golden Gophers 83, Northwestern Wildcats 57
This one largely went as expected. A superior Minnesota team went on the road and beat a struggling Northwestern squad. Daniel Oturu led the way with 22 points and 12 rebounds. The win pushed the Gophers to 13-13 overall. Minnesota will return to action on Wednesday at home against Maryland. Meanwhile, Northwestern will now prepare for a game against arch-rival Illinois at home on Thursday.
-Wisconsin Badgers 79, Rutgers Scarlet Knights 71
This game might have been overshadowed by some of the ones described above, but don’t overlook its significance. Both sides desperately needed a win to help their NCAA hopes and Wisconsin was eventually able to get the job done. The Badgers improved to 17-10 overall with the win and likely within a game or two of locking up an NCAA bid. Wisconsin will return to action on Thursday on the road against Michigan.
The most significant result of this game will come for Rutgers. After a 16-5 start to the season, Rutgers has now lost five of its last seven games and is now projected to lose its final three regular season contests. And with an 18-10 record, that’s probably a little scary for fans. My assumption is Big Ten teams with 19 wins will get in, but nobody really knows what might happen with some 18 win Big Ten squads. Rutgers desperately wants to get another win and remove any doubt. That effort will start on Wednesday on the road against a ranked Penn State squad.