The Big Ten had a loaded slate on Saturday that included four ranked teams in action. The day ended with a monster upset and a handful of closely fought games.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Rutgers Scarlet Knights 84, No. 13 Michigan State Spartans 63
Heading into tip, this isn’t exactly a result many saw coming. Rutgers was reeling after a tough loss to Northwestern while the Spartans entered with momentum. Michigan State had won two straight and three of the team’s last four, including a road win over Wisconsin.
However, this is college basketball, where the unexpected is expected.
Rutgers not only won this game, but did it pretty easily. The Spartans hung around for awhile, but had no answers on defense. The Scarlet Knights shredded Michigan State, finishing with 1.35 points per possession. And Paul Mulcahy led the way with 15 points and 12 assists. Ron Harper also had 17 points.
Of course, this win is a massive one for the Scarlet Knights. I called it a “last stand” earlier this week and I still think that’s true. Rutgers needed this win to keep its season alive. And to do it so impressively will add even more fire to the team’s long-term hopes. Rutgers now sits at 13-9 overall and 7-5 in Big Ten play. The Scarlet Knights will hope to keep things rolling on Wednesday at home against Ohio State. It’s another huge opportunity.
For Michigan State, this is a tough but survivable loss. The Spartans remain in the Big Ten title hunt, just a game out of first place, and have a manageable slate moving forward. However, it’s going to take better performances than this to get the job done. Michigan State will hope to bounce back on Tues\day at home against Wisconsin.
-No. 18 Illinois Fighting Illini 74, Indiana Hoosiers 57
While this projected as a marquee game and one that would go down to the wire, Illinois had other ideas. The team went off in the second half, pulling away from the Hoosiers and grabbing the program’s most impressive win in Bloomington in years. The win pushed Illinois to 17-5 overall and 10-2 in Big Ten play. Indiana fell to 16-6 overall and 7-5 in Big Ten play. Illinois will now prepare for a key road game at Purdue on Tuesday and the Hoosiers will hope to rebound against Northwestern on the road on Tuesday.
-No. 4 Purdue Boilermakers 82, Michigan Wolverines 76
Michigan showed a lot more fight in this one than expected, keeping things really close with the Boilermakers until the closing minutes. However, Purdue proved to be too much and grabbed a win thanks to 19 points from Trevion Williams. The Boilermakers will now prepare for a massive showdown with Illinois at home on Tuesday. Michigan will hope to grab a win on Tuesday on the road against Penn State.
Husker fans were hoping this was the game Nebraska would finally break through and get a win. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t play out as Northwestern cruised to one of its most lopsided conference road wins in years. The Wildcats will get Indiana at home on Tuesday next. Nebraska gets Minnesota at home on Wednesday.
-No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers 51, Penn State Nittany Lions 49
Talk about an ugly game. Wisconsin led 18-13 at halftime and didn’t get much better after that. Neither team came close to a point per possession and the Badgers eventually slipped a 51-49 win out at home. The Badgers now sit at 8-4 overall and 9-3 in Big Ten play with Michigan State awaiting on the road on Tuesday. Penn State will hope to bounce back with Michigan at home on Tuesday.