The Big Ten had a loaded slate on Thursday, featuring two ranked teams in action. Ohio State went on the road to face Indiana, Wisconsin hosted Iowa, and Maryland and Illinois tangled in an intriguing matchup.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Indiana Hoosiers 67, No. 13 Ohio State Buckeyes 51
Heading into tip, this had all the markings of a potential upset. Indiana had fallen short in most of its biggest games, but was still showing signs of trending up. And Ohio State was coming off a COVID-19 pause and a clunker on Sunday against Nebraska. Add in a racous Bloomington crowd and fans had to buckle up.
The game ended up living up to the billing.
Ohio State started out well, but gradually faded as the first half closed. The Buckeyes had no answer for Trayce Jackson-Davis and EJ Liddell really never got going thanks to Indiana’s fantastic defensive play. Liddell finished with 11 points, but did it inefficiently, going 3-for-12 from the field. Jamari Wheeler also had a disastrous outing with three points in 34 minutes. Indiana would eventually go on to grab a 67-51 win over Ohio State.
For Indiana, it’s hard to understate the importance of this win. The team has shown plenty of promise this season, but hasn’t been able to get a marquee under Mike Woodson’s leadership so far. Indiana blew opportunities against Syracuse and Wisconsin and fell flat against Penn State last week. The program needed a win like this and finally got it. There’s no telling how much extra confidence this win is going to give the Hoosiers.
On the other side, Ohio State fell to 9-3 overall and 3-1 in Big Ten play with the loss. The team’s offense was a mess and nobody did much outside of Liddell, who struggled himself. It seems clear the Buckeyes are still struggling to get their groove back after spending most of December on a COVID-19 pause. Unfortunately, with another game on Sunday, there isn’t much time to get things fixed.
Indiana will return to action on Sunday at home against Minnesota. Meanwhile, Ohio State will face Northwestern at home on Sunday. Both teams will be favored.
-Illinois Fighting Illini 76, Maryland Terrapins 64
This projected as an Illinois win before tip, but Maryland figured to be a tricky opponent who had shown the ability to play up against quality teams. Unfortunately for Terp fans, that didn’t happen on Thursday night. Illinois scored a double-digit win over Maryland to improve to 11-3 overall and 4-0 in Big Ten play. Kofi Cockburn led the way with 23 points and 18 rebounds. Trent Frazier also had 16 points. Maryland fell to 8-6 overall and 0-3 in Big Ten play with the loss.
Moving forward, Illinois will get the weekend off before facing Nebraska on the road on Tuesday. It’s clear Illinois should not only be ranked, but deserves top 10 consideration at this point. We’ll see how the team does in the polls on Monday. On the other side, Maryland will hope to rebound against Wisconsin at home on Sunday.
-No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers 87, Iowa Hawkeyes 78
The late game went roughly as one would expect. The teams battle for large segments, but Iowa’s defense couldn’t do enough to get the Hawkeyes the win, falling by an 87-78 margin on the road against the Badgers. Johnny Davis and Keegan Murray also both amazed. Davis finished with 26 points and nine rebounds and Murray had 27 points. Wisconsin improved to 12-2 overall and 3-1 in Big Ten play with the win while Iowa fell to 11-4 overall and 1-3 in Big Ten play with the loss.
Wisconsin will now get a few days off before facing Maryland on the road on Sunday. It’s a great opportunity for the Badgers to build on their four-game win streak. Meanwhile, Iowa will hope to bounce back next Thursday at home against Indiana.