The Big Ten had two games on Sunday and both had postseason implications. Maryland traveled to face Ohio State early on and Iowa hosted Minnesota in the late afternoon.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Iowa Hawkeyes 71, Minnesota Golden Gophers 59
Heading into tip, this figured to be an important game for both sides. Iowa was hoping to bounce back after a tough loss to Penn State and build upon its NCAA resume. Meanwhile, Minnesota was hoping for its first road win in months and its first win in February.
The game itself would largely live up to the billing. It was a competitive battle with some big plays from both sides. However, with roughly five minutes left, Iowa’s defense stepped up and the Hawkeyes pulled away for a 12-point win. Keegan Murray led the way with 24 points, 15 rebounds, and three assists. Patrick McCaffery also had 18 points.
For Iowa, this will be a valuable win. The Hawks improved to 15-7 overall and 5-6 in Big Ten play with the victory and avoided what would have been a rough loss at home. It also further built on what’s become a great home court advantage for the team. Iowa is likely now just two or three wins away from locking up an NCAA bid.
On the other side, Minnesota fell to 11-9 overall and 2-9 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Gophers are in absolute free fall, having lost four straight and eight of the team’s last nine games dating back to December. And even though most of the loses have come against quality opponents, it’s hard to feel great about a stretch like that. Minnesota’s postseason hopes are now on life support, with the team likely needing to win the majority of its remaining games to even get in serious consideration.
Iowa will now prepare for Maryland on the road on Thursday. Meanwhile, Minnesota will hope to rebound on the road against Nebraska on Wednesday. It figures to be a must win for the team’s postseason hopes.
-No. 16 Ohio State Buckeyes 82, Maryland Terrapins 67
It was always going to be a tough task for Maryland to go into Columbus and steal a win against a ranked Buckeye squad. However, some of Maryland’s recent performances, namely an upset win over Illinois, gave some hope of a competitive game. Unfortunately for Terp fans, the game would prove relatively one-sided and EJ Liddell finished with an impressive 24 points and 11 rebounds.
With the win, Ohio State improved to 14-5 overall and 7-3 in Big Ten play. Maryland dropped to 11-12 overall and 3-9 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Buckeyes will hope to build off the win against Rutgers on the road on Wednesday. The Terps will hope to bounce back against Iowa at home on Thursday.