The Big Ten had a loaded slate on Thursday, with nine teams in action. The highlight of the day was a conference matchup between Iowa and Nebraska in Lincoln. It proved to be a pivotal game for both sides.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Nebraska Cornhuskers 66, Iowa Hawkeyes 50
Entering tip, this easily projected as the toughest game of the day to pick. While Iowa was favored, the team had shown some serious issues in recent weeks, highlighted by a rough loss to Eastern Illinois last week. And while Nebraska entered the game coming off a win, the team was just 1-3 in the four games prior and didn’t rate well on the analytical sites. It set up for a fun matchup.
However, the game itself would prove relatively one-sided, as Nebraska cruised to a 16-point win over the Hawkeyes. Nebraska had a double-digit lead by halftime and things only got worse for Iowa after that. Juwan Gary led the way with 14 points and nine rebounds. Sam Griesel also had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Iowa’s high-powered offense finished with an underwhelming 0.76 points per possession and were held to 50 points for the first time this season.
Nebraska improved to 8-6 overall and 1-2 in Big Ten play with the win while Iowa fell to 8-5 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten play. The win gives Nebraska its second win over a top 50 KenPom opponent already this season, which ties last season’s total. On the other side, it marks Iowa’s second straight loss after falling to Eastern Illinois at home on the 21st.
Moving forward, Nebraska will now prepare for a tough road game against Michigan State on Tuesday. Iowa will hope to get back on track against Penn State on the road on Sunday.
-Illinois Fighting Illini 85, Bethune-Cookman Wildcats 52
This was a lopsided one, as Illinois scored a 33-point home win over a horrendous Bethune Cookman team. Dain Dainja led the way with 22 points, six rebounds, and two assists. Terrence Shannon also had 13 points. Illinois improved to 9-4 overall with the win. The team will now prepare for a road trip to Evanston next Wednesday to face rival Northwestern.
-Northwestern Wildcats 63, Brown Bears 58
While this game ended up being closer than anticipated, Northwestern was eventually able to grab a 63-58 home win over Brown to improve to 10-2 overall on the season. Chase Audige led the way with 24 points, two rebounds, and one assist. Boo Buie also had 15 points.
The 10-2 mark is the program’s best start through 12 games since the legendary 2016-’17 season when Northwestern made its only NCAA Tournament appearance. That team eventually reached 12-2 overall before falling on the road to Michigan State. We’ll see if these Wildcats can match that with Ohio State up next at home on Sunday.
-Maryland Terrapins 80, UMBC Retrievers 64
The Terps had a rough few weeks in December, but have seemingly gotten back on track with two straight wins. The second came on Thursday at home against UMBC. It was a defensive clinic for the Terps, who held UMBC to just 0.86 points per possession. Hakim Hart led Maryland with 16 points and six rebounds. Maryland improved to 10-3 overall with the win and will prepare for an intriguing road game against a reeling Michigan on Sunday
-Central Michigan Chippewas 63, Michigan Wolverines 61
For the fifth time this season, Michigan played a lesser opponent and played down to its opponent. The first four times, Michigan escaped with victories. Unfortunately for Wolverine fans, that didn’t continue on Thursday, as the team fell 63-61 to in-state Central Michigan. It was a horrible effort for the Wolverines all around, as the team scored just 0.95 points per possession and shot a dreadful 27.3 percent from three-point range.
Obviously, this is an absolutely crushing loss for Michigan. Not only because it came against a lesser opponent at home, but also because it deals a huge blow to the team’s already underwhelming postseason hopes. The team already lacked any marquee wins, but had at least previously avoided any bad losses. Thursday’s effort (or lack thereof) ends that. Michigan will now enter January with little to no margin for error.
The Wolverines will begin their effort to resurrect their season with Maryland at home on Sunday. KenPom favors the Terps and rightfully so.
-Ohio State Buckeyes 90, Alabama A&M Bulldogs 59
This one was never competitive, as Ohio State jumped out to an early lead and only built on that in the second half. Brice Sensabaugh impressed in the win, finishing with 21 points and six rebounds. Justice Sueing also had 18 points. The Buckeyes improved to 9-3 overall with the win and will now prepare for Northwestern on the road on Sunday. It projects as a really tough matchup for Ohio State.
-Penn State Nittany Lions 60, Delaware State Hornets, 46
The Nittany Lions scored a comfortable win in this one, beating Delaware State at home to improve to 10-3 overall. Seth Lundy led the way with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Penn State has now won four straight and will prepare for an intriguing home game against Iowa on Sunday. KenPom presently favors Penn State in that one.
-No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers 82, Florida A&M Rattlers 49
The Boilers kept things rolling on Thursday, rolling to just shy of a 40-point home win over Florida A&M. Zach Edey led the way with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Brandon Newman also had an impressive showing with 18 points and four rebounds. The win pushed Purdue to 13-0 on the season. It’s the team’s best start since 2009-’10, when the Boilermakers hit 14-0 before falling against Wisconsin on the road. We’ll see if Purdue can match that number when the team returns to action on Monday at home against Rutgers.