The Big Ten had two games on Thursday night and both eventually ended in shocking fashion. Ohio State hosted Minnesota and Michigan traveled to face Iowa.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Minnesota Golden Gophers 70, Ohio State Buckeyes 67
Few saw this result coming, and rightfully so. The Gophers entered as significant underdogs and seemed destined for a lopsided defeat, playing on the road against a Buckeye squad ranked 10th nationally by KenPom. All Ohio State seemingly had to do was play up to its potential and it would score a comfortable win.
Of course, Minnesota had other thoughts.
The Gophers not only challenged the Buckeyes, but pulled off the shocking upset. Dawson Garcia led the way with 28 points, nine rebounds, and two assists. Ta’Lon Cooper also had a nice showing with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Ohio State’s impressive offense struggled to score, finishing with just 1.02 points per possession, well below expectations. Minnesota eventually grabbed the 70-67 win.
For Minnesota, it’s hard to understate the significance of this one. The Gophers entered the game at 6-8 with rapidly fading hopes of making this season successful. We’ve seen many teams take such a situation and quit, absolutely collapsing over the closing months of the season. However, Minnesota hasn’t done that. The Gophers are playing hard and a win like this will give the team and fans a shot in the arm. It’s still going to be an uphill climb, but this is obviously a great sign.
On the other side, Buckeye fans have to be despondent over this loss. KenPom gave Ohio State a 94.6 percent chance to win the game before tip, and reasonably so. The Buckeyes were (and remain) a better team than the Gophers. It’s not up for dispute. This is a game Ohio State should have won. You simply can’t blow a game like this and feel good about things moving forward, especially considering Ohio State lost two straight heading into Thursday night. Chris Holtmann and his staff will have their work cut out.
Minnesota will hope to build off this win with Illinois at home on Monday. Ohio State will hope to snap its three-game skid over the weekend against Rutgers on the road on Sunday. KenPom favors the Scarlet Knights.
-Iowa Hawkeyes 93, Michigan Wolverines 84 (OT)
This figured to be a really intriguing game in Iowa City. While Iowa and Michigan had both underachieved to date, each had shown a lot of potential when playing well. And a lot of that would play out on Thursday night, as both teams went off from deep and tore things up offensively. Iowa finished with 1.27 points per possession and Michigan wasn’t far behind with 1.15 points per possession.
However, Iowa was eventually able to pull off the win thanks to 26 points and seven rebounds from Payton Sandfort. Michigan actually led much of the game and was in great position to grab the win in the closing seconds, but Sandfort hit a three and got fouled with just second remaining, allowing Iowa to force overtime. The Hawkeyes took care of business in overtime, thanks again to some great play for Sandfort.
Iowa improved to 11-6 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten play with the win while Michigan fell to 9-7 overall and 3-2 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Hawkeyes have now won three straight, including a monster road win at Rutgers over the weekend. Meanwhile, Michigan has lost four of its last six games, including a horrid loss to Central Michigan last month.
Moving forward, Iowa will now prepare for Maryland at home on Sunday. Michigan will hope to rebound at home on Sunday against Northwestern.