The Big Ten had two games on Thursday night, highlighted by a battle between Iowa and Michigan. Fans also got to enjoy an afternoon battle between Minnesota and Penn State.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Michigan Wolverines 84, Iowa Hawkeyes 79
Heading into tip, this looked like a pretty intriguing matchup. Michigan had been playing pretty well and Iowa was riding a three-game winning streak. Here’s what I wrote in our preview:
This is one of those matchups that doesn’t pop out on first glance, but is actually pretty intriguing. While Michigan enters the game coming off a loss to Ohio State, the team arrives in Iowa City with some serious momentum, having won six of nine. In fact, TRank has Michigan playing at a top 20 level since mid-January. And, on the other side, Iowa enters on the verge of a top 25 ranking having won three straight.
. . .
Both teams are going to get some great scoring opportunities on Thursday night. However, considering how Iowa’s played at home and its perimeter scoring attack, it’s unclear whether Michigan will be able to keep up in a shootout. The x-factor may very well be Houstan, who’s shown explosive production at times. If he can get going from three, perhaps he can keep Michigan in this thing. Otherwise, it looks like an Iowa win.
Much of my preview held true, except for my anticipated result. While Iowa entered as the favorite, the Hawkeyes found themselves in a dogfight by halftime and trailing for most of the second half. They had no answer for Moussa Diabate, who finished with 28 points and eight rebounds, and allowed Michigan to score 1.11 points per possession. Keegan Murray also missed some time in the second half with cramps, allowing Michigan to pull off an 84-79 road upset.
For Michigan, the significance of this one really can’t be understated. The Wolverines have been hanging on the bubble for much of the last month and desperately needed a win like this to get on the right side of things. The win pushes Michigan to 14-10 overall, 8-6 in Big Ten play, and into a great position with just six regular season games remaining. If the team can even protect home court (four remaining home games), it’s going to be in decent shape for Selection Sunday. Michigan will hope to keep things rolling on Sunday at Wisconsin.
On the other side, Iowa fell to 17-8 overall and 7-7 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Hawkeyes remain in solid shape for the NCAA Tournament, but the team’s repeated missteps against quality opponents remain a concern. Most simply stated, Iowa desperately needs to score a few marquee wins down the stretch to avoid a weak NCAA seed. We’ll see if the team can get it done at Ohio State on Saturday.
-Penn State Nittany Lions 67, Minnesota Golden Gophers 46
This was the second time these teams met in less than a week. Minnesota won the first meeting, but Penn State won this one thanks to 20 points from Jalen Pickett. Penn State dominated the game from start to finish and improved to 11-12 overall and 6-9 in Big Ten play with the win. Minnesota fell to 12-12 overall and 3-12 in Big Ten play.
Penn State will now prepare for a road trip to Maryland on Monday while Minnesota will get Northwestern at home on Saturday.