Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes 73, No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes 57
Let’s be clear about this. It’s genuinely impossible to make your way into the top 10 in the final week of February without being a really good team. You can luck your way into the top 25, or even the top 10 early in the season, but you can’t do it at the end of February. There are just too many challenging games to pull off such a feat.
With all that said, it felt like Iowa had reall underwhelmed in its biggest games this season. Yes, it beat up on North Carolina, Purdue, and Wisconsin, but it entered Sunday’s game against Ohio State with an underwhelming 0-4 record against top 10 teams this season. While that mark would be nothing to be ashamed of for most teams, Iowa entered this year with lofty expectations and fans were expecting to hold their own in the marquee games.
And that made Sunday’s showdown with Ohio State a critical one. Beat the Buckeyes and you show you belong in the top 10.
Fortunately for Hawkeye fans, the team answered the bell.
Iowa didn’t just go into Columbus and win, but did it by double-digits. Ohio State never found an offensive flow against the Hawkeyes and could do little to slow down Iowa in the closing minutes. Luka Garza finished the game with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Iowa improved to 18-7 overall and 12-6 in Big Ten play with the win, while Ohio State fell to 18-7 overall and 12-7 in Big Ten play with the loss.
Both teams will now enter the final week of regular season play hoping to secure a top four seed in the Big Ten Tournament and a top seed for the NCAAs. Iowa will get Nebraska at home on Thursday and Ohio State will get Illinois at home on Saturday.
-Maryland Terrapins 73, Michigan State Spartans 55
This was a quietly important game for the conference, as Maryland and Michigan State both entered Sunday hoping to build their respective NCAA Tournament resumes. Both were also red hot, as Maryland had won four straight and Michigan State had won three straight, including two wins against top five teams. It figured to be a great game.
Unfortunately for Spartan fans, the game wasn’t all that competitive. Maryland jumped out to an early lead and Michigan State never really got close enough again to put a scare into Terp fans after that. Eric Ayala led the way with 22 points, six rebounds, and three assists. The win pushed Maryland to 15-10 overall and 9-9 in Big Ten play while Michigan State fell to 13-10 overall and 7-10 in Big Ten play with the loss.
Both teams will now get a few more games to secure their NCAA positioning. Maryland gets Northwestern on the road on Wednesday and Michigan State faces Indiana at home on Tuesday. Both games should be interesting.