The Big Ten had a fantastic slate of games on Thursday with a top 10 battle between Iowa and Ohio State and Minnesota going on the road to face Rutgers. Both games were decided by single-digits.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes 89, No. 8 Iowa Hawkeyes 85
Talk about an entertaining game. Both teams put up absurd offensive numbers in this one and things went back and forth up until the final minutes. At that time, Ohio State did just enough to fend off a late comeback effort from Iowa. Kyle Young led the way for the Buckeyes with 16 points and six rebounds. EJ Liddell also had 16 points.
For Ohio State, the win pushed the team to 15-4 overall and 9-4 in Big Ten play. The team is absolutely rolling right now, having won four straight and seven of its last eight games. Ohio State also maintained its exceptional play on the road on Thursday night. The Buckeyes have already beaten four top 25 KenPom teams in true road games this season and two other decent non-con teams (Notre Dame and UCLA) away from home as well. Right now, this looks like a team more than capable of grabbing a one or two seed in March.
Conversely, Iowa dropped to 13-5 overall and 7-4 in Big Ten play with the loss. The same problems (poor defense and underwhelming rebounding) plagued the Hawkeyes once again in this loss. Iowa has now lost three of its last four games and hasn’t beaten a top 40 KenPom team in more than a month. This team still has time to turn things around, but it’s going to take quite an effort to do anything like win the Big Ten after its recent struggles.
Both teams will now get some time off before returning to action. Ohio State will get Maryland on the road on Monday and Iowa will face Indiana on the road on Sunday.
-Rutgers Scarlet Knights 76, Minnesota Golden Gophers 72
While the early game got most of the attention, this was a pretty good one as well. Minnesota controlled the first half, but Rutgers responded in the latter portions of the game and escaped with a narrow 76-72 win at home. Myles Johnson led the way with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Geo Baker also had 16 points.
The win pushed Rutgers to 11-6 overall and 7-6 in Big Ten play, while the loss dropped Minnesota to 11-7 overall and 4-7 in Big Ten play. These two teams seem to be on opposite trajectories, with Rutgers now having won four straight and Minnesota having lost five of its last six games. Oddly, Minnesota’s only win since January 3rd came against Michigan.
Rutgers will return to action on Wednesday on the road against Iowa. Meanwhile, Minnesota will hope to bounce back against Nebraska at home next Monday.