The Big Ten had a great slate of games on Tuesday night, highlighted by marquee matchups for Illinois, Northwestern, and Wisconsin. Fortunately, the Big Ten would take care of work and go a perfect 5-0 on the night.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Wisconsin Badgers 65, No. 12 Houston Cougars 63
What a performance. Despite middling expectations entering the night, Wisconsin came roaring out of the gates and quickly jumped out to a 20-point lead in the first half. Jonathan Davis was also impressive throughout, finishing with 30 points, four rebounds, and an assist. The Badgers finished with 1.03 points per possession against an elite Houston defense. Things got close near the end, but Wisconsin held on for the victory.
It’s hard to understate the significance of a win like this. Houston figures to be a team in play for a top seed in March, so this should be a huge resume win for the Badgers. It’s also a big confidence booster. After the team’s let down against Providence earlier this month, many Badger fans were starting to get a bit uncomfortable. This changes the narrative and helps to build momentum for the team moving forward.
Wisconsin will now move on to the Maui Invitational Final against Saint Mary’s on Wednesday. The Badgers are actually favored in the game, at least per KenPom. We’ll see how things finish, but a win there would be quite an achievement.
-No. 14 Illinois Fighting Illini 72, Kansas State Wildcats 64
After Monday night’s debacle against Cincinnati, Illinois got back on track on Tuesday and scored a nice win over a solid Kansas State squad. Kofi Cockburn led the way with 23 points, 13 rebounds, and two assists. Alfonso Plummer also had 21 points.
The win pushed Illinois to 3-2 overall. It’s been quite a first five games, but Illinois will now get a few days to get home and refresh before facing UT Rio Grande Valley on Friday.
-Indiana Hoosiers 70, Jackson State Tigers 35
The Hoosiers scored another dominant win on Tuesday, crushing an overmatched Jackson State team at home. Xavier Johnson led the way with 14 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. The win pushed Indiana to 5-0 on the season. The team will now prepare for Marshall at home on Saturday, which figures to be a tricky opponent.
-Nebraska Cornhuskers 79, Tennessee State Tigers 73
While Nebraska got the job done on Tuesday in this one, it was another concerning performance. Nebraska struggled to slow down a terrible Tennessee State squad and the Huskers’ role players were largely no shows. Nonetheless, Nebraska improved to 4-2 and will prepare for a matchup against South Dakota at home on Saturday.
-Northwestern Wildcats 78, Georgia Bulldogs 62
This game fell under the radar with all the great games on the docket on Tuesday, but it was quite a performance for the Wildcats. Northwestern dominated the game throughout and Boo Buie led the way with 22 points and six assists. Pete Nance also had 14 points and nine rebounds. Northwestern held Georgia to 0.86 points per possession and only two Bulldogs even finished with offensive ratings above 100.
Northwestern now sits at 5-1 overall and will prepare for Wake Forest on the road on Tuesday as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. It should be an intriguing matchup.