The Big Ten had a loaded slate of games on Saturday, starting with Michigan State going on the road to face arch-rival Michigan. The day then continued with Purdue traveling to face Indiana, Penn State hosting Minnesota, and Nebraska and Iowa battling.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Purdue Boilermakers 74, Indiana Hoosiers 62
Let’s be honest. For as good as Indiana and Purdue games usually are, the vast majority of the focus for this game was on other things. Namely, Bob Knight’s dramatic return to Assembly Hall. It was quite a moment to witness and certainly got more than its fair share of national attention.
Bob Knight back in Assembly Hall for the first time since 2000. What a moment. pic.twitter.com/JdLIZjVU1l— Kyle Boone (@Kyle__Boone) February 8, 2020
Knight has been and will continue to be a controversial figure for a number of reasons. And those issues have been documented well. Nonetheless, it was a historic moment for the Big Ten and will certainly be well remembered.
And as for the game?
Well, Purdue went on the road and beat Indiana for the sixth straight time. The Hoosiers’ last win in the series came on February 20, 2016 and it’s starting to seem like an eternity has passed since then. Tom Crean was still the head coach and would remain in that role for well over a year. It’s been quite a remarkable run for the Boilermakers.
With the win, Purdue improved to 14-10 overall and to 7-6 in league play. Like a handful of other Big Ten teams, Purdue remains in the bubble discussion with the final stretch of the regular season quickly approaching. Purdue will hope to build on this win when it gets back into action on Tuesday at home against Penn State.
On the other side, this was obviously a devastating loss for Indiana. Not only because the team couldn’t deliver for Knight’s return, but also because it dropped the team to 15-8 overall and extended its current losing streak. Indiana has now lost four in a row and five of the team’s last seven games. The team was sitting pretty a few weeks ago and now might have to sweat out Selection Sunday. Indiana will hope to bounce back on Thursday at home against Iowa.
-No. 17 Iowa Hawkeyes 96, Nebraska Cornhuskers 72
There wasn’t a lot to take away from this one. Iowa was favored before tip-off and handled Nebraska with ease. Joe Wieskamp finished the game with 30 points and eight rebounds. Luka Garza had 22 points.
Iowa will now prepare for a road trip to face Indiana on Thursday. Meanwhile, Nebraska will hope to bounce back on Tuesday on the road against Maryland.
-Michigan Wolverines 77, No. 16 Michigan State Spartans 68
This game opened up things for the Big Ten on Saturday afternoon and certainly delivered. It was a thrilling game with more than its fair share of intensity. Michigan ended up pulling out a 77-68 win when all was said and done. For further analysis on this one, read our what we learned post here.
-No. 22 Penn State Nittany Lions 83, Minnesota Golden Gophers 77
This was probably the most competitive game of the day. Penn State and Minnesota kept things interesting all afternoon. And when it looked like the Nittany Lions might be able to cruise to an easy win deep into the second half, Minnesota came roaring back to make things close. All told, Penn State grabbed an 83-77 win.
For Penn State, this win improves the team to 18-5 overall. The team has now won six in a row, including five games against top 45 opponents. Penn State has emerged as a viable Big Ten title threat and has all but guaranteed itself a spot in the NCAA Tournament with eight regular season games remaining. That’s quite an accomplishment for Pat Chambers. Fans will hope the team can keep things rolling on Tuesday on the road against Purdue.
On the other side, Minnesota fell to 12-11 overall and 6-7 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Gophers still look like a decent team, but are undoubtedly in tough waters moving forward. The team only has seven regular season games remaining, which means the odds of reaching 18 or 19 wins are now pretty slim. Fans will hope the team can overachieve moving forward, starting with Iowa at home next Sunday.