The Big Ten had three intriguing games on Saturday. Illinois and Ohio State met in a top 10 matchups, Indiana and Purdue faced off in a tough rivalry game, and Rutgers traveled to play Minnesota in the hopes of building its NCAA resume.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 4 Illinois Fighting Illini 73, No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes 68
This was a game with high stakes that lived up to the hype. The two teams kept things close all afternoon and both said had some serious star power on display. Ohio State pulled ahead in the second half, but Illinois took over in the closing minutes to close out the win. Andre Curbelo scored 19 points and had six assists in the win. Curbelo continues to be the difference maker for the Illini after elevating his game late last month.
Illinois improved to 20-6 overall and 16-4 in Big Ten play with the win. Notably, it’s the program’s highest conference win total in program history and its best regular season since the incredible 2004-’05 season. Illinois will enter the Big Ten Tournament as a two seed and many fans will hope to win the program’s first conference tournament since 2005.
On the other side, Ohio State fell to 18-8 overall and 12-8 with the loss. The Buckeyes played extremely well on Saturday, but just couldn’t pull out the win in the closing minutes. The team will now enter Indianapolis having lost four straight. Fans will hope Ohio State can score a win or two in Indy to build some momentum heading into the Big Dance. The Buckeyes will be the five seed, meaning they will play on Thursday.
-No. 23 Purdue Boilermakers 67, Indiana Hoosiers 58
While Indiana kept things competitive for a bit, this one was never really in doubt. Purdue ended up grabbing a nine-point win and improved to 18-8 overall and 13-6 in Big Ten play with the victory. Zach Edey led the way with 20 points and nine rebounds. The win marked Purdue’s ninth straight victory over Indiana. The loss could very well keep the Hoosiers out of the Big Dance next Sunday.
Purdue will enter the Big Ten Tournament as the three or four seed, depending on what happens between Iowa and Wisconsin on Sunday. Indiana will be the 10 seed.
-Rutgers Scarlet Knights 77, Minnesota Golden Gophers 70
This was a crucial game for the Scarlet Knights as a win would almost certainly lock up an NCAA bid for Rutgers and snap a 30-year Tournament drought. Unfortunately, the game came with a bit more stress than Scarlet Knight fans might have liked, as Rutgers blew a lead in the closing minutes of regulation, allowing Minnesota to force overtime. However, Rutgers was able to come back and score the victory in overtime.
The win will lock up an NCAA bid for Rutgers, while the loss will make things even tougher on Richard Pitino heading into next week. The Scarlet Knights should be the seven seed and Minnesota will be the 12th seed in the Big Ten Tournament.