The Big Ten had two games on Wednesday night, highlighted by a road trip for Ohio State to face Rutgers. Nebraska also hosted Minnesota hoping to get its first league win.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Rutgers Scarlet Knights 66, No. 16 Ohio State Buckeyes 64
This was a big one for both sides. Rutgers entered trying to build its (fringe) NCAA resume while Ohio State hoped to keep pace in the Big Ten title race. The Scarlet Knights also entered with some serious momentum, after blasting Michigan State on Saturday.
The game ended up being highly competitive. Ohio State controlled for large portions of the night, but could never get a big enough divide to hold off an upset. Then, Geo Baker and Paul Mulcahy went off and pushed the Scarlet Knights to the win. THe two combined for 37 points and nine rebounds on the night. Rutgers ended up winning 66-64.
Obviously, this was a massive win for the Scarlet Knights. It gave the team another marquee win and pushed Rutgers to 14-9 overall and 8-5 in Big Ten play. However, more importantly, it genuinely put the team back in play for the NCAA Tournament. Rutgers almost certainly has to win most of its remaining games to get there, which is a tall task, but the fact it’s even back on the table is a worth achievement for the program.
For Ohio State, the loss drops the Buckeyes a full game out of the lead in the Big Ten standings. The team still has an oddly manageable slate to close the season (just two games against the leagues best tier), but the loss does put the Buckeyes in the danger zone. Another loss in the coming days and the Big Ten title is probably out the door.
Moving forward, Rutgers will get Wisconsin on the road on Saturday. Ohio State will hope to bounce back on the road against Michigan on Saturday.
-Nebraska Cornhuskers 78, Minnesota Golden Gophers 65
For the last month or so, this has been coming. Nebraska hasn’t gotten much attention nationally (and rightfully so), but the Huskers have been playing better. The team has been pushing opponents at home and on the road. It was just a matter of time before they caught someone on the right night and got their first conference win of the season.
Unfortunately for Gopher fans, it happened on Wednesday night.
Nebraska not only played well en route to the win, but Minnesota came out flat as well. The Gophers ended up down 11 at half and it didn’t get better from there. Alonzo Verge led the way with 22 points and four assists for Nebraska. Eventually, it ended 78-65.
It’s hard to understate the importance of this one for Nebraska. It won’t put the team into the postseason, but it will give them a moment to look bacon this season. While it’s been a rough year in Lincoln, Wednesday night was a nice night. Congratulations is warranted to everyone involved in breaking through.
For Minnesota, this is a crushing loss, as it ends any realistic hope of the Gophers making the NCAA Tournament. And while things were already trending in that direction, it’s hard to see that dream go up in flames in early February. Minnesota has simply fallen apart over the last few weeks, losing nine of the team’s last 10 games. Some of it has been COVID-19 induced, but it’s been rough to watch.
Nebraska will now hope to keep things rolling on the road against Iowa on Sunday. Minnesota will get Penn State at home on Saturday.