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2/18 Big Ten Recap: Elite Teams Thrive

Recap all the Big Ten action from Thusday.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten had a loaded slate on Thursday night with three games on the slate that had massive implications for March. Wisconsin hosted Iowa, Ohio State traveled to face Penn State, and Michigan and Rutgers tangled in Ann Arbor.

Let’s take a look at what happened.

Game of the Night:

-No. 11 Iowa Hawkeyes 77, No. 21 Wisconsin Badgers 62

This was easily the most interesting game of the day with a red hot Iowa team going on the road to face a Wisconsin team desperate to win one of its matchups against an elite opponent. Iowa had won two in a row, while Wisconsin was 0-4 in its game against top 20 KenPom teams during Big Ten play.

Unfortunately for Badger fans, the team’s luck wouldn’t change on Thursday night. Iowa came out of the gates empathetically and grabbed a double-digit lead early on. Luka Garza led the way with 30 points and eight rebounds. Wisconsin led a bit of a run in the second half, but never got close enough to really challenge the outcome.

Iowa improved to 16-6 overall and 10-5 in Big Ten play with the win. The Hawkeyes have now won three straight for the first time since January 17th and are probably play their best ball of the season to date. And with a brutal closing slate, that has to be exciting for fans.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin fell to 15-8 overall and 9-7 in Big Ten play. The team still seems to be pretty good, but it just can’t get over the hump against elite opponents like Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan. And unfortunately, the league is loaded with teams like that this year. It’s how Wisconsin is still 15th on KenPom, despite seven league losses and losing five of eight.

Iowa will hope to keep things rolling on Sunday at home against Penn State. Wisconsin will hope to take care of business on the road against Northwestern.

The Rest:

-No. 3 Michigan Wolverines 71, Rutgers Scarlet Knights 64

While the Scarlet Knights started this one really well, the team ran out of energy early on and Michigan took control, grabbing a comfortable 71-64 win. Franz Wagner led the way with 20 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Rutgers really had no answer to Michigan’s defense, finishing with an underwhelming 0.98 points per possession.

Thursday’s win will now set up a massive showdown for Michigan on the road against Ohio State on Sunday. It figures to be the biggest game for the Big Ten so far. Rutgers will hope to rebound on Sunday at home against Maryland.

-No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes 92, Penn State Nittany Lions 82

This game was a bit closer than Buckeye fans might have wanted, but it ultimately ended with a 10-point win for Ohio State. EJ Liddell showed up well again, finishing with 23 points, five rebounds, and two assists. Duane Washington also had 20 points. The win pushed Ohio State to 18-4 overall and 12-4 in Big Ten play, while Penn State fell to 7-11 overall.

Ohio State will now prepare for a massive showdown against Michigan at home on Sunday. Penn State will hope to rebound on the road against Iowa on Sunday. It won’t be easy.