The Big Ten had two games on Saturday with substantial Big Ten title and NCAA Tournament implications. Michigan State hosted Purdue in the first game and Wisconsin went on the road to face Rutgers in the late game.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Michigan State Spartans 68, No. 4 Purdue Boilermakers 65
It’s hard to understate the significance of this one heading into tip. Michigan State was amid a serious slide and needed a big win to get back on track for the postseason while Purdue needed this game to keep pace in the Big Ten title race. Add in what most thought would be a raucous environment and there was plenty to be excited about.
The game itself lived up to the hype. Michigan State jumped out early, but Purdue always kept it close thanks to some quality interior play from Zach Edey. Ultimately, the game came down to the final seconds, where the Spartans escaped with a 68-65 win. Four Michigan State players finished in double-digits.
For Michigan State, this was obviously a massive win. It snapped a three-game skid and ended the program’s growing NCAA concerns. It’s also the kind of win that has a chance to drastically reshape a team’s trajectory. And Spartan fans will certainly like the sound of that heading into March.
On the other side, Purdue fell to 24-5 overall and 13-5 in Big Ten play with the loss. It’s the team’s second straight letdown in a truly hostile road environment and very well could end up costing the Boilermakers a Big Ten title. Purdue was tied heading into Saturday, but now finds itself trailing Wisconsin by a full game with only two games remaining.
Michigan State will now prepare for a road game against Michigan on Tuesday while Purdue will hope to bounce back against Wisconsin on the road on Tuesday as well.
-No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers 66, Rutgers Scarlet Knights 61
Early on, this looked like it was going to be a one-sided result. Wisconsin jumped out to an early lead and seemed intent on walking out with an easy win. However, Rutgers came roaring back in the second half, leading to quite a bit of drama in the closing minutes. Unfortunately for Scarlet Knight fans, it ended up being too little, too late as Wisconsin was still able to grab a five-point win.
Wisconsin improved to 23-5 overall and 14-4 in Big Ten play with the win while Rutgers fell to 16-12 overall and 10-8 in Big Ten play. The Badgers will hope to keep things rolling on Tuesday at home against Purdue. A win would lock up a share of the Big Ten title. On the other side, Rutgers will hope to bounce back against Indiana on the road on Wednesday.