The Big Ten had four games on Thursday night, highlighted by a marquee matchup between Illinois and Missouri in St. Louis. The league also saw Maryland, Minnesota, and Penn State in action against lesser opponents at home.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Missouri Tigers 93, No. 16 Illinois Fighting Illini 71
Through the first 11 games of the season, Illinois had achieved quite a bit. The team had avoided any terrible losses and had victories over multiple quality opponnents, including UCLA and Texas on neutral courts. By all accounts, things were going pretty well heading into Thursday’s matchup against Missouri. It represented Illinois’ final opportunity to add a quality win before conference play restarted in January.
Unfortunately, things didn’t end well.
Despite being a significant favorite before tip, Missouri absolutely throttled Illinois on Thursday. The Tigers jumped out to a massive lead by halftime and never looked back, only building on it in the opening minutes of the second half before garbage time. Illinois’ defense was likewise demolished in the game, allowing 1.35 points per possession to Missouri. Three of Illinois’ starters finished with offensive ratings of 54 or below as well. Ultimately, Illinois fell by a 93-71 final.
Thursday’s loss dropped Illinois to 8-4 overall and took much of the air out of the team’s sails moving toward 2023. The loss was not only embarrassing, but added on to some other recent missteps, including recent losses against Maryland and Penn State. The team is now just 2-3 over its last five games, which isn’t exactly encouraging. Fans will have to hope Illinois can get things turned out soon. The team returns to action on Thursday at home against Bethune Cookman.
-Maryland Terrapins 75, Saint Peter’s Peacocks 45
Normally, hosting a team that made last year’s Elite Eight is a significant moment with much fanfare. However, this was a unique situation where the game was not only under the radar, but rightfully so, as can be seen from the result. Maryland entered as a significant favorite and cruised to a 30-point win over last year’s Cinderella. Hakim Hart led the way with 18 points. Jahmir Young also had 16 points, four assists, and four rebounds.
Maryland improved to 9-3 with the win and will get a week off before hosting another recent Cinderella in UMBC at home on December 29th. The Retrievers are best known for knocking off Virginia in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
-Minnesota Golden Gophers 58, Chicago State Cougars 55
The Gophers scored the team’s second win in a row on Thursday, beating an underwhelming Chicago State team at home by a bucket to improve to 6-6 overall. Dawson Garcia led the way with 18 points and six rebounds. Jamison Battle also had 14 points. Minnesota will hope to keep the momentum going next Thursday at home against Alcorn State.
-Penn State Nittany Lions 77, Quinnipiac Bobcats 68
While the final score suggests this one was relatively competitive, Penn State controlled this one from start to finish en route to a 77-68 win. Jalen Pickett led the way with 21 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists. Andrew Funk also had 16 points and three assists. The win pushed Penn State to 9-3 overall. The Nittany Lions will now get a few days off before returning to action against Delaware State at home on Thursday.