Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Illinois Fighting Illini 69, Ohio State Buckeyes 60
If this game had been played in late December or early January, things would have looked starkly different. At the time, Illinois was struggling while Ohio State was coming off a series of notable wins, including wins over Rutgers and at Northwestern.
However, as Big Ten fans know well, matchups are as much about the teams as they are about when matchups happen. Because circumstances had changed starkly by Tuesday’s meeting between Illinois and Ohio State. While Illinois had won four of its last five, Ohio State entered have lost five of the team’s last six. And the matchup played out accordingly, with Illinois grabbing a nine-point home win over the Buckeyes. Terrence Shannon led the way with 17 points, seven rebounds, and three assists.
For Illinois, things are obviously rolling. The team is now 14-6 overall, 5-4 in Big Ten play, and suddenly finds itself just a game out of second-place in the league standings, despite a horrendous 0-3 start to conference play. Illinois is clearly making up ground and improving its postseason seeding. The big question is simply whether the team has a chance to catch up to Purdue, which seems like a tall task. The effort will continue on Saturday on the road against Wisconsin. It’s a rematch of a game Illinois won earlier this month.
On the other side, Ohio State fell to 11-9 overall and 3-6 in Big Ten play after the loss. The team is now just 1-6 over its last seven games and a dreadful 2-7 against top 300 KenPom opponents since narrowly beating Rutgers at home in early December. And considering the Buckeyes only won that game based on questionable late game officiating, it’s hard to feel great about the direction of the team right now. Fans will hope Chris Holtmann can get things turned around by Saturday’s game on the road against Indiana.
-Rutgers Scarlet Knights 65, Penn State Nittany Lions 45
This figured to be an interesting matchup after Rutgers fell on the road against Michigan State on Thursday and would be looking to bounce back. However, that didn’t end up being the case as the Scarlet Knights rolling Penn State in this one, grabbing a 20-point home win. Cliff Omoruyi led the way with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Rutgers improved to 14-6 overall and 6-3 in Big Ten play with the win while Penn State fell to 13-7 overall and 4-5 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Scarlet Knights will hope to build off the win with Iowa on the road next on Sunday. Penn State gets Michigan at home on Sunday.