The Big Ten had two games on Thursday night and both had some significant implications for the postseason. Michigan hosted Nebraska in the early game and Illinois went on the road to face Ohio State in the late game.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 19 Ohio State Buckeyes 71, No. 23 Illinois Fighting Illini 63
What a game. While it always felt like Ohio State would find a way to win on Thursday night, it wasn’t for lack of effort from the Illini. This one swung back and forth throughout, until EJ Liddell and Kaleb Wesson made some huge plays down the stretch. Liddell finished with a double-double as the Buckeyes scored a 71-63 win.
The win pushed Ohio State to 21-9 overall and to 11-8 in league play. The Buckeyes are now tied for fifth in the Big Ten standings and have a chance for a double-bye in next week’s Big Ten Tournament if they can get some help elsewhere. Ohio State will take its four-game winning streak on the road on Sunday to face a rolling Michigan State squad. It figures to be one of the best games of the weekend nationally.
For Illinois, Thursday was a disappointing loss. The Illini had a serious shot at winning the Big Ten title with a win in Columbus. Technically speaking, Illinois can still share the Big Ten title with a win on Sunday at home against Iowa. However, that will take losses from Maryland, Michigan State, and Wisconsin over the weekend, which seems like a tall task. Still, Illinois can secure a double-bye with a win over the Hawkeyes and seems to be playing pretty solid basketball.
-No. 25 Michigan Wolverines 82, Nebraska Cornhuskers 58
Outside of a few stretches in the first half, this game largely went as expected. Michigan was a solid favorite entering the game and cruised to an 82-58 victory at home over a struggling Nebraska squad. The win pushed Michigan to 19-11 overall and to 10-9 in league play. It also should remove any doubt about the team’s NCAA hopes. Meanwhile, Nebraska fell to 7-23 overall with the loss. The Huskers have lost 15 straight.
Perhaps the most notable moment of the night was the return of former Michigan coach John Beilein to Crisler Center. Beilein left Michigan’s program last offseason for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, but recently resigned from the head coaching position there.
John Beilein gets a huge standing ovation as he’s shown on the video board pic.twitter.com/Mq509p60it— Clayton Sayfie (@CSayf23) March 6, 2020
It was a relatively bizarre sight, given the events of last year. However, it was senior night for two players (Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske) Beilein coached for the last few years, so there was some logic behind the decision to appear in Ann Arbor.
Michigan will now prepare for a challenging road game against Maryland on Sunday, while Nebraska will hope to regroup on the road against Minnesota on Sunday.