The Big Ten had 11 games on Tuesday, highlighted by a marquee matchup between Michigan State and Kansas in the Champions Classic. A few other games also finished in dramatic fashion. It was quite the opening night of the season.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks 87, Michigan State Spartans 74
The Champions Classic has become the biggest event of opening night and this year did little to stray from that precedent. Kansas and Michigan State tipped off the event with Duke and Kentucky rounding things up afterward. The late game featured the beginning of the end for Coach K, as this will be his final season with the Blue Devils.
Unfortunately for Spartan fans, things weren’t as celebratory for them.
While Michigan State was able to keep things within reaching distance for most of the night, Kansas took control in the first half and the Spartans could never overcome the Jayhawk defense. In particular, Michigan State’s backcourt struggled immensely. Transfer Tyson Walker finished with two points and three turnovers and freshman Max Christie had an underwhelming showing with nine points in 31 minutes of action. Ultimately, Michigan State finished with 0.96 points per possession. The only player who had a good showing was AJ Hoggard, who finished with 17 points and four assists.
The good news is things should get easier for Michigan State moving forward. The team will get a couple nights off before returning to action on Friday at home against Western Michigan. The Spartans should be significant favorites in that one.
-No. 11 Illinois Fighting Illini 71, Jackson State Tigers 47
This was a pretty dominant win for Illinois from start to finish. The team jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, cruising to a 24-point win. Jacob Grandison led the way with 20 points and five rebounds. Kofi Cockburn sat out to an NCAA infractions issue. The win pushed Illinois to 1-0 on the season. The team will return to action at home against Arkansas State on Friday.
-Indiana Hoosiers 68, Eastern Michigan Eagles 62
Tuesday marked Mike Woodson’s debut with the Hoosiers as the program’s new head coach. And for the first half, things looked great. Trayce Jackson-Davis was putting up numbers and the role players were contributing to the team’s stout defense as well. Unfortunately, things fell apart in the second half and ended up being far closer than fans would have liked. Ultimately, Indiana had to sweat out a 68-62 win.
Jackson-Davis remained great, finishing with 21 points and 14 rebounds. However, the team still has a three-point problem. Indiana shot 16.7 percent from three, which is not only terrible on its face, but even worse when you consider the opponent. Eastern Michigan gave up 39.2 percent from deep last season. Indiana will hope to rebound on Friday at home against Northern Illinois.
-Iowa Hawkeyes 106, Longwood Lancers 73
There wasn’t much to take away from this one. Iowa cruised against an overmatched opponent on Tuesday, led by Keegan Murray. The sophomore forward finished with 24 points and seven rebounds. Jordan Bohannon also had 18 points. The win pushed Iowa to 1-0 on the season. The Hawkeyes will return to action on Friday at home against UMKC.
-No. 21 Maryland Terrapins 83, Quinnipiac Bobcats 69
Maryland cruised to an easy win in this one, led by 17 points and six rebounds from Qudus Wahab. The team’s offense was humming, scoring 1.12 points per possession and 35.3 percent from three-point range. Maryland will now prepare for George Washington at home on Thursday night.
-Minnesota Golden Gophers 71, UMKC Kangaroos 56
The Gophers only put eight players on the floor in this one, but scored a double-digit win against UMKC on Tuesday night. Jamison Battle led the way with 18 points and three rebounds. Eylijah Stephens and Payton Willis also both scored 13 points. Minnesota now sits at 1-0 and will prepare for a difficult game against Western Kentucky in Asheville on Friday.
-Western Illinois Leathernecks 75, Nebraska Cornhuskers 74
Ouch. There were high hopes for this year’s Husker squad, but those took a shot to the gut on Tuesday night after Nebraska fell short against Western Illinois at home. Nebraska outplayed Western Illinois for most of the night, but the team’s offense fell apart in the final 10 minutes and they saw a pivotal tilt slip away.
Despite the loss, Nebraska did have some promising showings. Alonzo Verge finished with 26 points and Bryce McGowens had 25 points in his collegiate debut. Unfortunately, the frontcourt no showed and those two accounted for 68.9 percent of the team’s scoring. That’s not going to lead to many wins. Nebraska will hope to bounce back on Friday at home against Sam Houston State.
-Northwestern Wildcats 80, Eastern Illinois Panthers 56
The Wildcats cruised to an easy win in their opener, grabbing an 80-56 victory over Eastern Illinois thanks in large part to the 17 points, six assists, and three rebounds from Boo Buie. Casey Simmons also made a nice debut with six points. The win pushed Northwestern to 1-0 on the season. The team will return to action on Friday at home against High Point.
-No. 17 Ohio State Buckeyes 67, Akron Zips 66
When fans looked at the schedule, most thought this would be an easy win for Ohio State. Instead, it took a buzzer beater to avoid a brutal loss on opening night. EJ Liddell was great and finished with 25 points, but the team otherwise underwhelmed, including a poor showing from Penn State transfer Jamari Wheeler.
Whether this ends up being a fluke or a sign of trouble remains to be seen. Either way, Buckeye fans should be thankful the team was able to avoid a loss. Ohio State will get Niagara at home on Friday. Fans will be hoping for a better showing there.
-No. 7 Purdue Boilermakers 96, Bellarmine Knights 67
This was another lopsided affair, with Purdue cruising to a 29-point win over Bellarmine. Sasha Stefanovic led the way with 23 points, including a 5-of-6 mark from three-point range. Zach Edey also had 16 points and nine rebounds. Purdue will return to action on Friday at home against Indiana State.
-Wisconsin Badgers 81, St. Francis (NY) Terriers 58
Wisconsin won this one easily over a pretty rough Terriers squad. Jonathan Davis led the Badgers with 15 points, five assists, and three rebounds. Chucky Hepburn also had a nice showing and finished with 13 points. Wisconsin will now prepare for Green Bay at home on Friday.