The Big Ten had a loaded Sunday slate featuring two games with Big Ten title implications and another with serious NCAA Tournament implications. It all led to a wild day of action, highlighted by an upset bid in College Park.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Maryland Terrapins 75, No. 22 Ohio State Buckeyes 60
This is not the game I expected to be writing about in this section, but it’s deserving of the Game of the Night designation. Ohio State entered Sunday having won two straight and expecting an easy win over a struggling Maryland squad. Instead, it got all it could handle and then some, as the Terps pulled off a 15-point upset bid. Eric Ayala led the way with 23 points, six rebounds, and two assists. Fatts Russell also had 27 points.
For Maryland, the win won’t mean much for this season, but it does inject some positivity into a program that needs every ounce it can get. It also continues what’s quietly been a pretty solid run, as Maryland has now won three of its last four games. Don’t look now, but Maryland could very well be setting itself up to be this year’s Big Ten Tourney spoiler.
On the other side, Ohio State fell to 18-8 overall and 11-6 in Big Ten play with the loss. It was a shocking performance that also almost certainly ends the team’s Big Ten title hopes. You have to think the Buckeyes were overlooking Maryland in this one and were looking ahead to a packed final week of action because there isn’t much of an explanation for how badly Ohio State played on Sunday. Either way, it’s going to be a tough one for fans to stomach.
Maryland will now prepare for Minnesota at home on Wednesday while Ohio State will get Nebraska at home on Tuesday.
-No. 15 Illinois Fighting Illini 93, Michigan Wolverines 85
Most expected this to be a close game with things coming down to the final moments, particularly with how much both teams had riding on the income. And while it didn’t look like it would match those predictions early on, Michigan did enough in the second half to make things uncomfortable for Illinois late. However, Illinois and Kofi Cockburn proved to be too much for the Wolverines, grabbing a 93-85 win in Ann Arbor.
Illinois improved to 20-8 overall and 13-5 in Big Ten play with the win while Michigan fell to 15-12 overall and 9-8 in Big Ten play with the loss. The win keeps Illinois just a game out of first place in the Big Ten title race. Conversely, it puts even more pressure on Michigan in the NCAA bubble race as the team prepares for its final week. Illinois will now prepare for Penn State at home on Thursday while Michigan gets Michigan State at home on Tuesday.
-Indiana Hoosiers 84, Minnesota Golden Gophers 79
After losing five-straight earlier this month, Indiana desperately needed this win to maintain positioning for the NCAA Tournament. Fortunately for Hoosier fans, the team found a way to get the job done, scoring an 84-79 road win. Xavier Johnson led the way with 24 points and eight assists.
Indiana improved to 18-10 overall and 9-9 in Big Ten play with the win while Minnesota fell to 13-14 overall and 4-14 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Hoosiers will now prepare for Rutgers at home on Wednesday. Minnesota’s next outing will come against Maryland on the road on Wednesday.
While this one didn’t get much attention, it was a thoroughly shocking result. Penn State had shown considerable fight in recent weeks and Nebraska took it to the woodshed, scoring a dominating 23-point road win over the Nittany Lions. It was Nebraska’s second conference win of the season and Bryce McGowens impressed again, finishing with 25 points and six rebounds. The Huskers will hope to keep things rolling on Tuesday on the road against Ohio State. Penn State will hope to rebound against Illinois on the road on Thursday.