The Big Ten had 10 games on Friday night, including a variety of matchups against local mid-major opponents. Ultimately, the conference ended up going a perfect 10-0 in those matchups.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Minnesota Golden Gophers 73, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 69
The Gophers entered this one as mild underdogs, but were able to pull off a narrow 73-69 win. It was the program’s first game of note under Ben Johnson and he certainly answered the bell. The Gophers took control early and the final probably would have been bigger had Western Kentucky not come storming back near the end of the game.
Jamison Battle and Payton Willis led the way for the Gophers, combing for 39 points. Eylijah Stephens also had a great game with 18 points and five rebounds. The team’s lineup remains pretty tight, with only seven players seeing time.
While it’s just one game, this was a great sign of progress for the Gophers. Western Kentucky is a decent team and has a legitimate chance to make the NCAAs at season’s end. Controlling a game against an opponent like that is a great sign. It now sets up Minnesota for a matchup against Princeton on Sunday.
-No. 11 Illinois Fighting Illini 92, Arkansas State Red Wolves 67
This was a complete beat down. Illinois jumped out to a double-digit lead early on and never looked back, ultimately grabbing a dominant 92-67 win. Coleman Hawkins led the way with 17 points and 12 rebounds in Kofi Cockburn’s absence. Illinois moved to 2-0 with the win and will now prepare for a road game against Marquette on Monday. The team also now boasts the nation’s best defense, per KenPom.
-Indiana Hoosiers 85, Northern Illinois Huskies 49
Talk about bouncing back. After a putrid outing against Eastern Michigan on Tuesday, Indiana came back and scored a convincing win against Northern Illinois on Friday to improve to 2-0 on the season. Trayce Jackson-Davis finished with 19 points, seven rebounds, and seven blocks. The team also shot 34.8 percent from three, which was a notable improvement. Indiana will return to action on Wednesday at home against St. John’s.
-Iowa Hawkeyes 89, UMKC Kangaroos 57
Iowa got another offensive explosion in this one, scoring 1.22 points per possession with Keegan Murray leading the way. The sophomore wing scored 25 points. Filip Rebraca also had a nice outing with nine points and 13 rebounds. Iowa now sits at 2-0 and will get another tuneup game on Tuesday at home against North Carolina Central.
-Michigan State Spartans 90, Western Michigan Broncos 46
This was relatively close early, but Western Michigan fell apart by the end of the first half and the Spartans cruised to an easy win. Joey Hauser led the way with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Marcus Bingham also had 12 points. Michigan State improved to 1-1 with the win. The Spartans will now prepare for Butler on the road on Wednesday.
-Nebraska Cornhuskers 74, Sam Houston State Bearkats 65
The Huskers got back on track on Friday, scoring a 74-65 win over Houston State at home. The win pushed Nebraska to 1-1 overall after the team lost to Western Illinois earlier in the week. Bryce McGowens scored 29 points and had five rebounds and Alonzo Verge had 13 points and seven assists.
The frontcourt remains an issue for Nebraska. The team was outrebounded by the Bearkats, which should be alarming considering Sam Houston State’s tallest starter is 6-foot-7. Nebraska will hope to get these issues addressed before Tuesday’s game against Creighton at home.
-Northwestern Wildcats 95, High Point Panthers 60
For the second straight game, Northwestern scored a dominant win against a non-conference opponent. It was Eastern Illinois earlier this week and High Point on Friday. Pete Nance led the way on Friday with 22 points and 10 rebounds. The Wildcats now sit at 2-0 and will get another tuneup next Tuesday at home against New Orleans.
-No. 17 Ohio State Buckeyes 84, Niagara Purple Eagles 74
At face value, there really isn’t much to take away from this game. Ohio State scored a double-digit win against an underwhelming mid-major at home. However, when you consider this is the second straight game Ohio State has failed to cover against an underwhelming opponent, you have to be a little more concerned. The Buckeyes are 2-0, but have already fallen 11 spots on KenPom. That’s certainly not encouraging. We’ll see if the team can reverse the trend next Monday against Bowling Green at home.
-No. 7 Purdue Boilermakers 92, Indiana State Sycamores 67
The Sycamores played pretty hard early on, but simply didn’t have enough to slow down Jaden Ivey and company. The guard finished with 27 points and eight rebounds and Zach Edey had 22 points as well. Ultimately, Purdue was able to unload its bench with 13 players seeing time. Purdue now sits at 2-0 overall and rose to fourth nationally on KenPom. The team will get Wright State at home next on Tuesday.
-Wisconsin Badgers 72, Green Bay Phoenix 34
This was a completely lopsided game. Wisconsin doubled up on Green Bay and had three players score at least 15 points in the outing. The Badgers are now 2-0 and will face Providence at home next Monday. It will mark Wisconsin’s first legitimate opponent this season.