The Big Ten had a loaded slate on Sunday, featuring a ranked battle between Iowa and Minnesota, an intriguing road trip for Indiana at Nebraska, and a late game between a ranked Illinois team and a desperate Maryland squad.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes 86, No. 16 Minnesota Golden Gophers 71
This was the biggest game of the day nationally and it largely lived up to the hype. Things were close during the first half with both teams hitting some big shots. However, Iowa pulled away early in the second after a 16-2 run and was able to grab a 15-point win when everything was said and done. Luka Garza led the way with 33 points and five rebounds.
Iowa improved to 11-2 overall, 5-1 in Big Ten play, and third nationally on KenPom with the win. The Hawkeyes have now won four in a row and five of the team’s last six games, with every win coming against a top 60 opponent. Iowa will now get a few days off before hosting Michigan State at home on Thursday. It projects as one of the team’s most winnable remaining games.
On the other side, Minnesota fell to 10-4 overall and 3-4 in Big Ten play with the loss. And while the Gophers have now lost two straight and three of four games, every game has come against a top 10 team away from home. Minnesota will hope to bounce back at home against Michigan on Saturday.
-Maryland Terrapins 66, No. 12 Illinois Fighting Illini 63
For the first 20 minutes or so in this one, things largely went as expected. Things were tight, but Illinois gradually took control and had a lead in the closing minutes. Kofi Cockburn led the way against an underwhelming Terp frontcourt and it looked like Illinois would be able to pull out a win. But Maryland got some big shots from Darryl Morsell and Aaron Wiggins in the closing seconds and stole the win in Champaign.
It’s hard to understate the importance of this one for Maryland. It snaps a three-game losing streak and gives the team just its second win over a top 100 opponent. It also keeps what seemed to be a deflating resume alive for at least another week or two. And in a season where every game is a battle, that’s great news. Maryland will return to action next Saturday at home against Nebraska.
For Illinois, it’s hard to describe this one as anything other than crushing. There’s no understanding the reality here: this should have been a win. A top 10 team facing a team coming off a three-game losing streak needs to find a way. Instead, Illinois gave away the game in the closing minutes and is now a full two games back in the Big Ten standings. Fans will hope the team can get back on the right track with Nebraska on the road on Wednesday.
-Indiana Hoosiers 84, Nebraska Cornhuskers 76
Both teams entered this game hoping to rebound after some recent struggles. Indiana was coming off a tough loss to Wisconsin earlier in the week and Nebraska was looking for its first conference win of the season. Something had to give and the Hoosiers were eventually able to walk out with an 84-76 win. Trayce Jackson-Davis led the way with 15 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, and two assists.
With the win, Indiana now sits at 8-5 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers will get a few days off before a massive showdown against arch-rival Purdue on Thursday. It figures to be one of the team’s most intriguing remaining games. Nebraska will also get a few days off before hosting Illinois at home on Wednesday.