The Big Ten only had two games on Wednesday, but both had some significant NCAA Tournament ramifications. Minnesota went on the road to face Indiana in the first game and Wisconsin hosted Northwestern in the late game.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
I know a lot of people hate using this phrase, but Wednesday was a “must win” game for Indiana’s NCAA Tournament chances. Despite a great start to the season and some nice wins in conference play, the Hoosiers were dangerously close to the bubble cutoff heading into Wednesday’s matchup with the Golden Gophers. A win and Indiana fans would feel decent about the team’s chances. A loss would have been a devastating blow.
Fortunately for Hoosier fans, the team got the job done.
In a game that was thoroughly competitive all night, Indiana found a way to do just enough to come out on top. Trayce Jackson-Davis had a great night with 18 points and nine rebounds and the Hoosiers held Daniel Oturu relatively in check. The Minnesota big man had 24 points, but it came on 27 attempts in an inefficient performance. Ultimately, Indiana grabbed a 72-67 win.
For Indiana, the win pushed the team to 19-11 overall and likely on the right side of the NCAA bubble moving forward. You never know how auto bids are going to sort out among the mid-majors, but I think 19 wins is going to be enough to make the field with the depth of this year’s Big Ten. And fortunately for Indiana, it reached that mark with at least two more games on its slate. The first will be this Saturday at home against Wisconsin.
On the other side, Minnesota lost another heart breaker. And while a lot of fans are likely discouraged with how this season has gone, it’s important to keep things in perspective. Minnesota has been playing relatively well. It’s just one of the teams that got screwed by an incredibly deep conference this year. The Gophers are an NCAA level team that won’t have the resume to even get a sniff at the postseason. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes it happens in college basketball. Minnesota will hope to get back on track on Sunday at home against Nebraska before heading to the Big Ten Tournament.
-No. 24 Wisconsin Badgers 63, Northwestern Wildcats 48
Northwestern did enough on Wednesday to make this one somewhat interesting in the first half, but the Wildcats didn’t have enough to come out with a win. Ultimately, Wisconsin cruised to a 15-point win and improved to 20-10 overall on the season. The Badgers have now locked up an NCAA bid and are now tied atop the league standings. Wisconsin will go for the Big Ten crown on Saturday on the road against Indiana. Meanwhile, Northwestern will hope to get back on track on Saturday at home against Penn State.