The Big Ten had an exciting slate on Saturday with two afternoon matchups. The first put Wisconsin on the road to face Penn State and the second had Purdue hosting Minnesota in a bounce back opportunity for both sides.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Penn State Nittany Lions 81, No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers 71
This was actually the first game in an oddly seen back-to-back in college basketball as Penn State tries to make up some of the games it missed during its COVID-19 pause. Wisconsin entered as a modest favorite looking to stay in reaching distance of Michigan in the Big Ten title race. Meanwhile, Penn State was hoping to pull off the upset and gain some momentum.
The game itself was pretty competitive in the first half with both teams battling and Wisconsin holding a narrow lead. However, that changed abruptly in the second half as Penn State gradually pulled away. The team’s defense had a really good showing and Myreon Jones finished with 20 points as Penn State scored an 81-71 win.
The outcome is clearly more significant for Wisconsin than it is for Penn State. The loss dropped the Badgers to 13-5 overall and 7-4 in Big Ten play. However, most importantly, Wisconsin fell to fourth in the Big Ten standings and three full games back from the Wolverines. It’s a long way from what Badger fans were hoping to see a few weeks ago.
For Penn State, fans will hope this is a building block game. And the team does seem to be gaining some momentum with three wins over its last four games. This is certainly the biggest and the program’s first win against Wisconsin since March 11, 2011. So yeah, it’s been a long time coming.
The two teams will now get a few days off before heading to Madison for the rematch. It will be interesting to see if Wisconsin can rebound.
-Purdue Boilermakers 81, No. 21 Minnesota Golden Gophers 62
While this projected to be a close and hard fought contest, that certainly didn’t end up happening on Sunday night. Minnesota kept things close for a bit, but the Boilermakers dominated the second half and cruised to an 81-62 win. The victory pushed Purdue to 12-6 overall and 7-4 in Big Ten play, while Minnesota fell to 11-6 overall and 4-6 in Big Ten play.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from Saturday should be Purdue’s stellar play. The Boilermakers are really cruising right now and have won five of the team’s last six games, save a loss to Michigan last week. Purdue is right on the edge of moving into the NCAA Tournament “lock,” which has to be exciting for fans after the rough start. The team will return to action on the road against Maryland on Tuesday. Minnesota will hope to rebound on Thursday on the road against Rutgers.
-Indiana Hoosiers at No. 4 Michigan Wolverines
This would have been a fun one with Indiana’s recent win over Iowa and Michigan’s success so far this season. We’ll have to wait to see when/if it gets rescheduled. We wish everyone health and safety moving forward.