The Big Ten had five games on Wednesday night, presumably highlighted by a matchup between Michigan and North Carolina in Charlotte. However, things took a dramatic turn in Iowa City as the Hawkeyes suffered one of the program’s biggest upsets in recent memory.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Eastern Illinois Panthers 92, Iowa Hawkeyes 83
Despite some hiccups in the late 2010s, Iowa has gradually become one of the more consistent programs in the Big Ten under Fran McCaffery. The Hawkeyes are routinely in NCAA Tournament contention and have made some noise in March as well, including winning the 2022 Big Ten Tournament.
Iowa has reached these heights thanks to an incredibly efficient offense, but also by protecting home court and avoiding bad losses in non-conference play. The last time the Hawkeyes lost to a non-con opponent outside the top 100 on KenPom came in 2017 and that was on the road against an Iowa State squad ranked 103rd nationally. That’s an incredible five-year run where the program has become a Big Ten mainstay.
Unfortunately, that ended on Wednesday night.
Despite a solid start to the season and a 30-point spread heading into tip, Iowa fell flat on Wednesday night at home against a dreadful Eastern Illinois squad. The Panthers entered the game at 3-9 overall and with a variety of horrible losses on the team’s resume, including five against teams ranked 249th or worse on KenPom. However, despite those struggles, Eastern Illinois went into Iowa City and walked out with a 92-83 win. Iowa’s defense underwhelmed significantly in the outing, allowing 1.14 points per possession.
While Kris Murray missed Wednesday night’s game, there’s simply no spinning a loss of this magnitude. It’s absolutely inexcusable and will have a massively detrimental impact on Iowa’s resume and its postseason hopes. Teams have overcome defeats like this before, but it’s going to put the Hawkeyes up against it heading into league play. Fans will have to hope the team can bounce back on the road against rival Nebraska on December 29th.
-North Carolina Tar Heels 80, Michigan Wolverines 76
For the third time in a matter of weeks, Michigan faced off against a marquee opponent and played decently before falling short in the closing minutes. The former two losses came against Virginia and Kentucky and Wednesday’s came against North Carolina. Michigan actually led a sizable portion of the game, but just couldn’t do enough to slow down Armando Bacot and Leaky Black to get the win. Hunter Dickinson also had a particularly rough outing with nine points in 27 minutes and an 81 offensive rating.
Michigan fell to 7-4 overall with the loss and now finds itself in the unenviable position of having no marquee wins heading into January. KenPom now projects the Wolverines to finish the regular season at 17-14 overall, which would be right around last year’s mark, when the team had to sweat out Selection Sunday. We’ll have to wait and see if Michigan can repeat last year’s late season magic. Those efforts will start with Central Michigan at home on December 29th to close out the calendar year.
-Michigan State Spartans 67, Oakland Grizzlies 54
The Grizzlies kept this one competitive for the first 10 minutes of the game, but fell apart after that as Michigan State cruised to a 13-point win. Joey Hauser led the way with 16 points. Jaden Akins also had 15 points as he competed against former Spartan guard Rocket Watts. The win pushed Michigan State to 8-4 overall. The team will now get a week off before hosting Buffalo at home on December 30th.
-Ohio State Buckeyes 95, Maine Black Bears 61
This was an easy win for the Buckeyes against a thoroughly overmatched opponent. Brice Sensabaugh led the way with 19 points, seven assists, and seven rebounds. Zed Key also had 14 points and six rebounds. The win left Ohio State sitting at 8-3 overall. The Buckeyes will close out non-conference play at home against Alabama A&M on December 29th.
-No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers 74, New Orleans Privateers 53
The Boilers remained unbeaten after another win on Wednesday night against an underwhelming New Orleans squad. The Privateers actually started the game well, but didn’t have the legs to hang as halftime approached. Trey Kaufman-Renn had a great performance for Purdue with 24 points and two rebounds. Purdue now sits at 12-0 following the victory and will prepare for Florida A&M at home on December 29th.