The Big Ten had an unbelievably good slate on Tuesday night. Michigan and Illinois met in a top five showdown with the Big Ten title on the line, Indiana traveled to face Michigan State in a key game for both sides, and Purdue hosted Wisconsin in a second ranked matchup.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 4 Illinois Fighting Illini 76, No. 2 Michigan Wolverines 53
The game itself probably doesn’t deserve “Game of the Night” honors since it was so one-sided, but anytime you have a top five matchup, it’s going to land here. Illinois traveled to Ann Arbor to face Michigan in one of the biggest games of the season and thoroughly embarrassed the Wolverines, grabbing a 23-point win. The game never felt close and Michigan finished with a horrid 0.77 points per possession.
Illinois improved to 19-6 overall and 15-4 in Big Ten play with the win and now seems on the verge of grabbing a one seed in the NCAA Tournament. This is about as good as the Illini have looked all season. And perhaps even more impressively, Illinois scored this win without star guard Ayo Dosunmu, who was out with injury. Trent Frazier led the way with 22 points and four rebounds. Kofi Cockburn also dominated Hunter Dickinson, making the Wolverine big man look like the freshman he is, finishing with 12 points and seven rebounds. Illinois has now won three straight and 10 of the team’s last 11 games.
For Michigan, this will be a tough one to stomach. The Wolverines had won seven straight heading into tip and were starting to get some major accolades nationally. In fact, the team even received some No. 1 votes in the polls on Monday. But instead of delivering off the recent success, Michigan looked downright awful on Tuesday. And it wasn’t just a single player, either. Illinois’ defense shut everyone down. Juwan Howard and staff will have some major changes to make if this team is going to live up to the hype in March.
Despite Tuesday’s result, Michigan still remains up in the Big Ten standings. The team needs some combination of a win or an Illinois loss to clinch the regular season title. On the other side, Illinois needs to win its lone remaining game and for Michigan to lose out. We’ll see what happens. Michigan gets Michigan State at home on Thursday while Illinois travels to face Ohio State on Saturday. Both games looks really entertaining on paper.
-Michigan State Spartans 64, Indiana Hoosiers 58
This game wasn’t pretty, but was entertaining nonetheless and came down to the closing minutes, when Aaron Henry made a few key plays to push the Spartans to victory. The win left Michigan State sitting at 14-10 overall and 8-10 in Big Ten play, while Indiana fell to 12-13 overall, 7-11 in Big Ten play, and on the verge of missing the NCAA Tournament.
Both teams remain in the bubble conversation with some big games ahead this week. Michigan State will face arch-rival Michigan on the road on Thursday and Indiana will get Purdue on the road on Saturday. Expect both games to be physical.
-No. 23 Purdue Boilermakers 73, No. 25 Wisconsin Badgers 69
This was a truly great game. Both teams went back-and-forth all night before Purdue narrowly pulled out the win in the closing minutes. Zach Edey came up big for the Boilermakers, finishing with 21 points and seven rebounds. Brad Davison also had a great outing for the Badgers with 15 points. The win pushed Purdue to 17-8 overall and 12-6 in Big Ten play while Wisconsin fell to 16-10 overall and 10-9 in Big Ten play.
Both sides find themselves in similar spots heading into this weekend. They’ve locked up NCAA bids, but aren’t in position to win the Big Ten title or grab an elite seed in March, so this weekend will be about tuning up before the Big Ten Tournament. Purdue gets Indiana at home on Saturday and Wisconsin gets Iowa on the road on Sunday. They should be fun matchups and will give both opportunities for key wins.