The Big Ten had a loaded slate of games on Tuesday featuring four ranked teams in action, including two on the road. Iowa and Wisconsin hosted Michigan State and Penn State and Illinois and Purdue went on the road to battle Indiana and Maryland.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 12 Illinois Fighting Illini 75, Indiana Hoosiers 71 (OT)
After beating Iowa at home on Friday night, this felt like a trap game for the Illini. Following up a big win is challenging enough and Illinois would have to do it on the road against a solid Hoosier squad trying to strengthen their resume before March. And the game proved tricky with things swinging back and forth in the closing minutes before Illinois narrowly won in overtime. Trent Frazier led the way with 19 points and four rebounds Kofi Cockburn also had 16 points.
For Illinois, this was a valuable win. The Illini have struggled with consistency issues all season, so going on the road against a top 30 opponent after beating Iowa is a major statement about the team’s trajectory. And avoiding a collapse in overtime is even more significant. This was a gutty win, but Illinois got the job done. The win pushed the Illini to 12-5 overall and 8-3 in Big Ten play. The race for the conference title is still alive.
On the other side, Tuesday marked another missed opportunity for the Hoosiers. It was the program’s third straight home loss and another brutal loss by a narrow margin. In fact, this marked Indiana’s sixth loss already this season in overtime or by 10 points or less. It’s why the Hoosiers are 297th in KenPom’s luck metric right now.
Illinois will hope to keep things rolling on Saturday at home against Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Indiana will hope to bounce back on Sunday at home against Iowa.
-No. 8 Iowa Hawkeyes 84, Michigan State Spartans 78
Iowa entered this game amid a two-game losing streak and plenty of criticism. However, the team was able to respond well and scored a home win against a desperate Michigan State team. The Spartans played relatively well, but couldn’t slow down Iowa’s high-powered offense. Both teams finished with at least 1.20 points per possession. Luka Garza had 27 points and 12 rebounds on the night.
The win pushes Iowa to 13-4 overall and 7-3 in Big Ten play. Like Illinois above, Iowa’s dream of the Big Ten title remains alive. The Hawkeyes will now prepare for a showdown against Ohio State at home on Thursday. Meanwhile, Michigan State dropped to 8-7 overall, 2-7 in Big Ten play, and in desperate position heading into a game against Nebraska at home on Saturday. It’s an absolute must win for the team’s at-large NCAA hopes.
-Maryland Terrapins 61, No. 24 Purdue Boilermakers 60
This was quietly a really significant result. Purdue had been building some serious momentum in recent weeks and was holding on at the edge of Big Ten title contention. Meanwhile, Maryland was desperately searching for a win to help its contention for the NCAA Tournament. The game eventually came down to the final buzzer with Maryland sneaking out a win against the Boilermakers. Aaron Wiggins finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
The win pushed Maryland to 10-8 overall and 4-7 in Big Ten play, while Purdue dropped to 12-7 overall and 7-5 in Big Ten play. The Terps now have one of the most perplexing resumes you’ll ever see in college basketball. The team is 10-8 with seven of its eight losses coming against top 30 KenPom teams and four wins against top 40 KenPom teams.
Maryland will return to action on Friday on the road against Penn State and Purdue will hope to bounce back against Northwestern at home on Saturday.
-No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers 72, Penn State Nittany Lions 56
This marked the second leg in a back-to-back between these two teams. Penn State won on Saturday, but fell short in this one by a pretty significant margin. The win pushed Wisconsin to 14-5 overall and 8-4 in Big Ten play, while the loss dropped Penn State to 6-8 overall and 3-7 in Big Ten play. Wisconsin will return to action on the road against Illinois on Saturday and Penn State will face Maryland at home on Friday.