The Big Ten only had one game on Monday night, but it was a big one with Illinois going on the road to face Iowa. Both teams had scored some nice wins in recent weeks and were hoping to make a statement in the Big Ten.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
While neither of these teams was ranked heading into Monday’s matchup, this very much projected as a top 25 level matchup between two quality teams. Illinois had largely rebounded from a slow start and Iowa’s only blemish came on the road against Purdue, who moved atop the polls on Monday morning. The game was also an important one as both teams desperately needed to add another quality win to their resumes.
The game itself would end up being really competitive. Keegan Murray returned for Iowa after missing Friday’s game against Purdue and performed well, finishing with 19 points and two rebounds on the night. Illinois clung to a three-point lead at half and things remained pretty close in the second half. Jacob Grandison had a big night for Illinois, finishing with 21 points and three rebounds off the bench. Illinois would end up grabbing the 87-83 win.
Illinois improved to 7-2 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten play with the win while Iowa fell to 7-1 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten play with the loss. The win should be a huge resume boost for Illinois, who’s looking to recover from some early season slip ups. Iowa performed admirably, even though the team’s defense underwhelmed again, allowing Illinois to score 1.21 points per possession. It remains Iowa’s primary weakness.
Both teams will now get a few days off to regroup. Illinois will get a marquee matchup against Arizona at home on Saturday and Iowa will get Iowa State on the road on Thursday. Both games would be nice resume wins if they can pull it off, especially the game against the Wildcats, who currently sit at a perfect 7-0. Buckle up for a big week.