The Big Ten had two games on Tuesday night, highlighted by a matchup between Iowa and Michigan State in Iowa City. Additionally, Nebraska and Northwestern also met in a game for Big Ten Tournament seeding.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 25 Iowa Hawkeyes 86, Michigan State Spartans 60
Iowa might have been favored heading into tip in this one, but nobody expected this result. While Michigan State kept it relatively close in the first half, things fell apart in the second. Ultimately, the Spartans were blown out by the Hawkeyes, falling by 26 points in a game that probably wasn’t even that close. Keegan Murray had another excellent night, finishing with 28 points and five rebounds. Jordan Bohannon also had 11 points.
Obviously, this was a huge win for the Hawkeyes for a variety of reasons. The win pushed Iowa to 19-8 overall and 9-7 in Big Ten play, but it also solidified the team’s position in the top 25 and pushed it significantly up the advanced stat rankings as well. You don’t see Tom Izzo teams blown out like this often, let alone by a team who’s struggled with consistency issues like Iowa this season. However, stacking a win like this after beating Ohio State on the road on Saturday is noteworthy. Iowa is trending in the right direction at the right time.
It’s also important to note how Iowa pulled this off. Yes, Iowa got its usual elite offensive performance (1.19 points per possession), but the defense was also great, holding Michigan State to just 0.83 points per possession. That’s not something we would have seen in recent years, as Iowa’s defense has largely tanked its dynamic offenses. However, Iowa’s defense has quietly risen to 80th nationally on KenPom. It’s not elite, but it’s starting to get good enough to carry the team across the finish line.
On the other side, Michigan State fell to 18-9 overall and 9-7 in Big Ten play with the loss. It’s the team’s fifth loss in six games and its sixth in nine games. Michigan State is likewise only 4-7 over its last 11 games. The Spartans are amid a slide and it’s a rough one. In fact, it’s derailed Michigan State’s resume enough to wonder whether the team might end up on the bubble for Selection Sunday. That probably won’t happen, but the fact it’s not off the table as we approach the end of February is noteworthy.
Moving forward, Iowa will get Nebraska on the road on Friday while Michigan State prepares for Purdue at home on Saturday. Both teams will be hoping for big wins.
This was the second meeting between these teams this season. Northwestern won the first meeting comfortably in Lincoln by 24 points. This one ended up being closer, but still ended in a double-digit win for the Wildcats. Pete Nance led the way with 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Chase Audige also had 15 points.
Northwestern improved to 13-13 overall and 6-11 in Big Ten play with the win while Nebraska fell to 7-20 overall and 1-15 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Wildcats will now prepare for a game against Penn State on the road on Friday. Nebraska will get Iowa at home on Friday.