The Big Ten had an absolutely loaded slate on Tuesday night, highlighted by a massive matchup between Illinois and Purdue in West Lafayette. Fans also got to see Michigan State host Wisconsin, Michigan to travel to face Penn State, and Indiana and Northwestern tangle.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 4 Purdue Boilermakers 84, No. 13 Illinois Fighting Illini 68
This one didn’t take much build up to get both sides excited. You had two top 15 teams battling it out with the Big Ten title on the line. Add in that both had won at least four straight and played an epic game against each other last month and there was plenty to love here.
The game itself would generally live up to the hype. The environment was electric and Illinois was able to keep things close in the first half, actually leading by two at the half. However, Jaden Ivey and the Boilermakers went to another level in the second half, pulling away and scoring an 84-68 win. Ivey finished with 26 points and six assists.
The significance of this win can’t be understated. Purdue improved to 21-3 overall and 10-3 in Big Ten play with the win. But, more importantly, the team also moved back into first place in the conference standings with less than a month remaining. Purdue still has some challenging games remaining, but it’s hard to feel down about things. The Boilermakers look like a Final Four team and has shown they can beat anybody out there.
For Illinois, this will be a tough pill to swallow. The team had shown a lot of progress in recent weeks and could have taken a commanding lead in the conference standings with a win. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. The good news is Illinois still remains tied in the Big Ten standings and has a manageable path moving forward.
Purdue will now prepare for a road trip to face Michigan on Thursday. Illinois will hope to rebound at home against Northwestern on Sunday.
-Michigan Wolverines 58, Penn State Nittany Lions 57
It’s hard to describe this game in anyway but “ugly.” Both teams struggled to produce offensively and needed a variety of intentional fouling at the end to even creep past a point per possession. However, Michigan did just enough to edge past Penn State and get the win. Hunter Dickinson finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds.
Michigan improved to 12-9 overall and 6-5 in Big Ten play with the win while Penn State fell to 9-11 overall and 4-8 in Big Ten play with the loss. The win kept Michigan’s NCAA hopes alive, at least for the moment. The Wolverines will hope to build on Tuesday night’s win against Purdue at home on Thursday. Penn State will now prepare for Minnesota on the road on Saturday.
-Northwestern Wildcats 59, Indiana Hoosiers 51
This one slipped under the radar with everything else going on, but it ended up being a solid victory for Northwestern. While the Hoosiers projected as modest favorites in the matchup, Trayce Jackson-Davis was the only player to do much for Indiana. Ultimately, Boo Buie led the way for Northwestern’s upset bid, finishing with 18 points.
Northwestern improved to 12-10 overall and 5-8 in Big Ten play with the win while Indiana fell to 16-7 overall and 7-6 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Wildcats will now prepare for Illinois on the road on Sunday and Indiana will hope to get back on track against Michigan State on the road on Saturday. Indiana still projects as a decent bet for the NCAAs, but every blown opportunity like this will add pressure.
-No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers 70, No. 17 Michigan State Spartans 62
The Big Ten’s second ranked matchup of the day (actually played before Illinois-Purdue) likewise had Big Ten title implications. The Badgers and Spartans were tied for second in the league standings coming into tip with the game almost serving as a defacto “elimination” game for both sides. Ultimately, Wisconsin proved too much for Michigan State, who couldn’t slow down Johnny Davis. The guard finished with 25 points, six rebounds, and three assists on the night.
Wisconsin improved to 19-4 overall and 10-3 in Big Ten play with the win while Michigan State fell to 17-6 overall and 8-4 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Badgers will hope to keep things rolling with Rutgers at home on Saturday. Michigan State will get Indiana at home. The Spartans need to win that game to remain in the Big Ten title picture. Any loss from here on out would eliminate the team.