The Big Ten had two intriguing games on Sunday with Michigan State going on the road to face Ohio State in the early game and Northwestern hosting Rutgers after that. Both games had significant NCAA Tournament implications.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 13 Ohio State Buckeyes 79, Michigan State Spartans 62
This is something I wrote in the preview, but Michigan State-Ohio State has quietly been one of the Big Ten’s best rivalries of the last decade. It’s gotten overshadowed by games like Indiana-Purdue and Michigan-Michigan State, but the intensity has been there. More often than not, these games have had some impact on the Big Ten title.
Unfortunately, Sunday’s meeting didn’t quite live up to the game’s recent status.
Michigan State entered the game licking its wounds after a rough outing against Rutgers on Thursday night and did little to change the narrative against the Buckeyes. The Spartans certainly played better than they did against the Scarlet Knights, but still didn’t have the offense to overcome Ohio State, eventually losing by a 17-point margin. EJ Liddell led the way with 20 points and eight rebounds.
For Ohio State, the win pushed the team to 14-4 overall, 8-4 in Big Ten play, and back on the verge of Big Ten title contention. The Buckeyes have now won six of the team’s last seven games, including three on the road. Ohio State will hope to keep things rolling this week on the road against Iowa on Thursday.
On the other side, Michigan State fell to 8-6 overall, 2-6 in Big Ten play, and in really tough positioning for this year’s NCAA Tournament. The Spartans almost certainly have to win a majority of the team’s remaining games and that’s going to be a major challenge with four remaining road games and seven games left against top 35 KenPom teams. We’ll see if the team can get it done starting with Iowa on the road on Tuesday.
-Rutgers Scarlet Knights 64, Northwestern Wildcats 56
This game largely went as expected with Rutgers going on the road and knocking off a struggling Wildcat squad. Jacob Young led the way with 19 points. The win pushed Rutgers to 10-6 overall and 6-6 in Big Ten play, while the loss dropped Northwestern to 6-9 overall and 3-8 in Big Ten play.
Rutgers will now prepare for a key home game against Minnesota on Thursday. Northwestern will hope to bounce back against Michigan at home on Wednesday.