The Big Ten had a loaded slate on Monday, highlighted by marquee matchups for Illinois, Northwestern, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. Unfortunately, it ended up being a pretty rough day for the league as several of the teams fell short.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Cincinnati Bearcats 71, No. 14 Illinois Fighting Illini 51
This was not the best played game of the day for the Big Ten. However, the result was shocking enough it deserves additional attention. Illinois entered this one as a sizable favorite, but fell flat and eventually lost by 20 points to a relatively underwhelming Cincinnati squad. It even got to the point where Illinois had to unload its bench.
Many will say it’s too early to panic about Illinois, as the team has only played four games to date. And that’s largely true. Titles and NCAA bids aren’t determined in November. However, it’s hard to feel good about where things are trending. Illinois was a complete mess on Monday night and Kofi Cockburn’s return did little to improve things. The team scored just 0.77 points per possession and three of the team’s starters combined for three points.
Fortunately, Illinois will get a quick chance to get back on track with Kansas State on Tuesday night. A win there would at least buy the team and coaching staff some time to get things corrected.
-Iowa Hawkeyes 109, Western Michigan Broncos 61
This was a complete bloodbath, with Iowa jumping out to a 29-point lead by halftime. Iowa improved to 5-0 with the win and will now prepare for Portland State at home on Friday. Keegan Murray had another impressive showing in the win, scoring 29 points.
-Providence Friars 77, Northwestern Wildcats 72
For large segments of Monday’s game, it seemed like Northwestern might have enough against Providence to steal a win. Unfortunately, a sloppy finish allowed the Friars to put things away and pull away with the win. perhaps the most disappointing part of the game was Casey Simmons’ poor performance. The young freshman finished with two pints in 15 minutes of game time.
Northwestern will now hope to rebound rebound on Tuesday against Georgia. It will be the team’s second opportunity for a quality win.
-Ohio State Buckeyes 79, No. 21 Seton Hall Pirates 76
But for the shocking result above, this would have been Game of the Night. This was a great game between two quality squads. The teams exchanged blows throughout, with Ohio State eventually coming out on top. EJ Liddell was particularly impressive in the matchup, finishing with 28 points and six rebounds.
The win pushed Ohio State to 4-1 on the season and into a matchup with Florida on Wednesday. It figures to be the team’s toughest matchup to date. Expect a tough and physical battle. Ohio State’s backcourt will need a good showing there.
-Penn State Nittany Lions 85, Cornell Big Red 74
This one was touch and go for awhile, but Penn State pulled away in the second half and was eventually able to grab the win. The Nittany Lions now sit at 3-1 overall and will prepare for a game against LSU on Friday. It figures to be an exciting battle and we can see how much Penn State has improved since its letdown against UMass earlier this month.
-Lafayette Leopards 53, Rutgers Scarlet Knights 51
There really isn’t any way to describe this result other than a disaster. Lafayette entered this game with little respect and one of the worst KenPom rankings in the country. But instead of punishing the Leopards, Rutgers let them hang around and eventually lost. It was Lafayette’s first win of the season and dropped the Scarlet Knights to 2-2 overall.
Rutgers has more than enough time to get back on track after Monday’s loss, but it’s hard to understate how damaging this loss is going to be for the team on Selection Sunday, if the Scarlet Knights are even good enough to get there anymore. The team desperately needs to get back on track on Saturday on the road against UMass. We’ll see what happens.
-Wisconsin Badgers 69, Texas A&M Aggies 58
With Wisconsin’s mixed start to the season, it was hard to know what to expect out of the Badgers in this one. However, the team played well and grabbed an 11-point win over a decent A&M squad. Jonathan Davis led the way with 21 points, nine rebounds, and two assists.
Wisconsin now sits at 3-1 overall and will prepare for a matchup against Houston on Tuesday night. That’s going to be quite a challenge for the Badgers to pull off.