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2/23 Big Ten Recap: MSU Upsets Illinois

Recap all the Big Ten action from Tuesday.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Michigan State Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten had two solid games on Tuesday night that both had plenty of drama involved. Illinois went on the road to face Michigan State in the early game and Nebraska hosted Penn State later on.

Let’s take a look at what happened.

Game of the Night:

-Michigan State Spartans 81, No. 5 Illinois Fighting Illini 72

Over the last few weeks, many have written obituaries for this year’s Michigan State team. The Spartans have struggled for consistency since Big Ten play started and many figured the team’s NCAA hopes were all but dead. Those same thoughts led many to believe Illinois would walk into the Breslin Center and escape unscathed.

Unfortunately for Illinois, that proved to be untrue.

Michigan State not only won this game, but did it emphatically.This wasn’t a game decided by a buzzer beater or a lucky play here or there. Michigan State’s defense was impressive all night and Illinois never got comfortable in the paint, even when the Spartans had two big men foul out with plenty of time remaining. The Spartans truly put together a team effort, as Joshua Langford led the way with 15 points and 16 rebounds.

For the Spartans, the value of this win can’t be overstated. Michigan State was unquestionably on the wrong side of the NCAA bubble heading into Tuesday night and desperately needed a big upset like this to improve their position. And while this win alone won’t get the team into the NCAAs, it’s going to help quite a bit. Michigan State now sits at 12-9 overall, 6-9 in Big Ten play, and likely just needs three more wins to get in the serious at-large discussion. We’ll see if the team can get the job done against Ohio State at home on Thursday.

On the other side, this is a crushing blow to Illinois. The team had won seven straight heading into Tuesday and seemed poised to seriously push Michigan in the Big Ten title race. Instead, Tuesday’s loss will put Illinois at a serious disadvantage in the standings with just a few games remaining. Michigan now only needs to win three of its last five games to clinch the title outright. We’ll see if the Illini can bounce back on Thursday at home against Nebraska.

The Rest:

-Penn State Nittany Lions 86, Nebraska Cornhuskers 83

This was a really entertaining game that ended up being decided in the final minutes. Unfortunately for Husker fans, this one couldn’t live up to the team’s first meeting with Penn State, where Nebraska scored its only Big Ten win of the season. Myreon Jones led the way for Penn State with 29 points, while Teddy Allen had an incredible 41 for Nebraska.

Penn State now sits at 8-12 overall and 5-11 in Big Ten play with the win, while Nebraska fell to 5-16 overall and 1-13 in conference play. The Nittany Lions will return to action on Friday at home against Purdue. Nebraska will face Illinois on the road on Thursday.