The Big Ten had two games on Saturday after Maryland and Nebraska got postponed for COVID-19 related concerns. The first had Illinois and Ohio State facing off and the second put an undefeated Michigan on the road against a ranked Minnesota squad.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 23 Minnesota Golden Gophers 75, No. 7 Michigan Wolverines 57
Talk about flipping the script. Despite Michigan scoring a blowout victory over Minnesota just over a week ago in Ann Arbor, things flipped this game, with the Gophers scoring an 18-point win over the Wolverines at home this time. It was easily Minnesota’s biggest win of the season and marked an end to Michigan’s undefeated start.
The Gophers improved to 11-4 overall and 4-4 in Big Ten play with the win. This also marked Minnesota’s fifth win over a top 40 KenPom team already this season. To put that in perspective, that ties Minnesota’s total from last season and the Gophers still play seven more teams currently ranked in the top 40 on KenPom. That’s huge progress and puts the team in position to make quite a push toward the NCAAs.
For Michigan, this one is certainly going to sting. A first loss is never easy and especially not after scoring such a huge win over Wisconsin earlier this week. Still, Michigan sits at 11-1 overall and 6-1 in Big Ten play following the loss and in great position in the Big Ten. Fans will hope starting guard Eli Brooks returns from injury. He missed Saturday’s matchup against Minnesota and there’s little debating his absence contributed to the loss.
Minnesota will get a few days off before going on the road to face Nebraska on Wednesday. A win there would give the Gophers the team’s first road win of the season. Meanwhile, Michigan will also get a few days off before facing Maryland at home on Tuesday.
-No. 21 Ohio State Buckeyes 87, No. 14 Illinois Fighting Illini 81
While this game was overshadowed by the Michigan-Minnesota matchup noted above, it was also a pretty significant one. Illinois was hoping to score a key win to keep pace in the Big Ten race, but fell flat. EJ Liddell led the way for the Buckeyes and finished with an impressive 26 points and seven rebounds.
Ohio State improved to 11-3 overall and 5-3 in Big Ten play with the win, while Illinois fell to 9-5 overall and 5-3 in league play with the loss. The game was clearly more significant for the Illini, who were holding out hope for a Big Ten regular season title. That’s technically still on the table, but there’s little to no margin for error now. This also marked Illinois’ second straight loss after winning four straight.
Moving forward, Ohio State will return to action on Tuesday at home against Purdue. Illinois will also play on Tuesday, facing off against Penn State at home.
This looked like an intriguing game to see how Maryland could build off a road win against Illinois. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait at least a little long to see what happens between these two. We wish everyone involved health and safety.