The Big Ten had a key game on Thursday night between Minnesota and Purdue. Both teams entered the night hoping to grab a valuable win to improve their NCAA positioning.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Minnesota Golden Gophers 71, No. 24 Purdue Boilermakers 68
This figured to be a competitive game heading into tip and the matchup lived up to the hype. The game went back and forth with Minnesota leading early, Purdue responding, and the Gophers taking over with a final push to secure the win. Trevion Williams was the star for the Boilermakers in the loss, finishing with 24 points. Marcus Carr also had an impressive outing with 19 points, five assists, and four rebounds.
There’s little debating this is a big win for Minnesota. It pushed the team to 13-7 overall, 6-7 in Big Ten play, and snapped a three-game skid against top 100 opponents. The Gophers played with plenty of energy and looked like they did early in the season, when the team jumped out to a 10-2 start. Minnesota’s defense also looked improved, which is a great sign for the final stretch of league play.
For Purdue, this is going to be a tough one to stomach. The Boilermakers were in clear control of this one with a few minutes to go, but let it slip away with some big mistakes down the stretch. The team had 86.7 percent odds to win with roughly two minutes remaining and still came up short. That’s not exactly something you like to see.
The loss also killed any fringe hope Boilermaker fans had of challenging for this year’s Big Ten title. It hasn’t been a realistic possibility for quite some time, but Thursday’s loss dropped the team to 13-8 overall and 8-6 in Big Ten play. That’s a full five losses back from first place Michigan and sixth in the league standings. You just don’t overcome deficits like that with a few weeks remaining, even in a bizarre year.
Minnesota will now prepare for a tricky game on the road against Maryland on Sunday while Purdue will get Michigan State at home next Tuesday. Both games look pretty winnable, so we’ll have to sit back and see what happens.
-No. 6 Illinois Fighting Illini at No. 3 Michigan Wolverines
Alas, this would have been a phenomenal game. Unfortunately, Michigan is still on a COVID-19 pause. The Wolverines will return to action on Sunday on the road against Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Illinois will go on the road to face Nebraska on Friday.