The Big Ten had a loaded slate of action on Friday, with most of the league in action and several marquee matchups. The biggest was a game in Madison between Wisconsin in Tennessee. It was a huge opportunity for the Badgers.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 9 Tennessee Volunteers 80, Wisconsin Badgers 70
After the disappointing 2022-’23 season, Badger fans were excited for the new season to start and to see the team (hopefully) turn the page. And Friday figured to be a big part of that process, with a marquee matchup against Tennessee at home. The Vols have been one of the nation’s more consistent programs in recent years, so it was a chance for Wisconsin to prove it was back among the nation’s top teams.
Unfortunately, the Badgers would eventually fall short. Wisconsin played well enough to keep things competitive until the closing minutes, but just couldn’t get enough stops to come out on top. Tennessee scored an impressive 1.13 points per possession and Dalton Knecht finished with 24 points. Chucky Hepburn and AJ Storr combined for 30 points on the night, though Storr did it inefficiently.
Wisconsin fell to 1-1 with the loss and will now prepare for a road trip to face Providence on Tuesday night. The Badgers project as narrow favorites.
-No. 25 Illinois Fighting Illini 64, Oakland Grizzlies 53
For the second time this week, Oakland pushed a Big Ten team on the road. The first time was with Ohio State and the second was on Friday against Illinois. Brad Underwood and his squad eventually got the win, but it took more work than expected. Quincy Guerrier led the way with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Terrence Shannon also had 15 points.
Illinois improved to 2-0 with the win. The team will now prepare for a marquee matchup against Marquette at home on Tuesday. KenPom narrowly favors Illinois.
-Iowa Hawkeyes 98, Alabama State Hornets 67
The Hawkeyes cruised in this one against a horrid Alabama State team thanks to 17 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists from Payton Sandfort. Patrick McCaffery also had 22 points. Iowa improved to 2-0 with the win and will now prepare for a tough road game against Creighton on Tuesday.
-Davidson Wildcats 64, Maryland Terrapins 61
This was easily the Big Ten’s most disappointing result of the night. Maryland entered the game as a significant favorite and ended up falling short against a rebuilding Wildcat squad. The Terps disappointed offensively, finishing with 0.97 points per possession. Most of the team’s players finished with offensive ratings below 100 and Jordan Gernimo had a putrid four-point showing.
Maryland will probably end up better than it looked on Friday, but the offense needs some work and Kevin Willard needs to figure out better ways to utilize DeShawn Harris-Smith. The Terps now sit at 1-1 and will hope to bounce back against UAB on Sunday.
-Michigan Wolverines 92, Youngstown State Penguins 62
The Wolverines had another encouraging performance in this one, cruising to a 30-point win against an overmatched Youngstown State team at home. Olivier Nkamhoua led the way with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists. Dug McDaniel also had 16 points.
Michigan now sits at 2-0 with the win. The Wolverines will get their first real test of the season on the road against St. John’s on Monday night.
-Minnesota Golden Gophers 102, UTSA Roadrunners 76
This was a lopsided win for the Gophers. Dawson Garcia led the way with 22 points, six rebounds, and three assists. Elijah Hawkins also almost finished with a triple-double with eight points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists. Minnesota improved to 2-0 with the win and will now prepare for Missouri at home on Thursday. KenPom narrowly favors the Gophers.
-Northwestern Wildcats 71, Dayton Flyers 66
This seemed like a close game on paper and things played out that way, as the Wildcats grabbed a 71-66 win over Dayton. Ryan Langborg led the way with 19 points. He was one of three Northwestern players to finish in double-digits in a relatively explosive game on both sides. The Wildcats finished with 1.22 points per possession.
Northwestern improved to 2-0 with the win. The team will now prepare for Western Michigan at home on Tuesday. It should be a win.
-No. 15 Texas A&M Aggies 73, Ohio State Buckeyes 66
After an underwhelming showing against Oakland at home earlier in the week, nobody was quite sure what to expect out of the Buckeyes in this one. Unfortunately for fans, the team started tailing off around halftime and fell short against a ranked Aggie squad. Ohio State’s defense disappointed, allowing 1.12 points per possession. Bruce Thornton was probably the brightest spot for the Buckeyes as he finished with 24 points and five assists.
Ohio State fell to 1-1 with the loss. The Buckeyes will now get two “buy games” to get back on track with Merrimack and Western Michigan at home this week. Ohio State should cruise in both games.
-Penn State Nittany Lions 74, Lehigh Mountain Hawks 65
This one ended up tighter than expected, as Penn State had to work in the second half to get out with a win. Fortunately for Nittany Lion fans, the team was able to get the job done thanks to 20 points from Kanye Clary. Ace Baldwin also had 16 points.
The question moving forward will be whether Penn State can get better offensive production. Scoring 0.97 points per possession against a team like Lehigh (outside the top 200 on KenPom) is simply inexcusable. If the team doesn’t figure out some things, it’s going to be a long season. Fans will hope the improved production starts on Tuesday at home against Saint Francis.
-No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers 87, Morehead State Eagles 57
This was a complete blowout (as expected), as Purdue rolled to a 30-point win at home. Zach Edey led the way with 18 points and eight rebounds. Trey Kaufman-Renn also had nine points in an encouraging performance. The Boilermakers will hope to keep things rolling on Monday night in the team’s first real game against Xavier at home.
-Rutgers Scarlet Knights 69, Boston University Terriers 45
The Scarlet Knights bounced back from the team’s loss earlier this week with a nice win over Boston University at home. Gavin Griffiths had an encouraging performance with 25 points and four rebounds. Aundre Hyatt also had 17 points. Rutgers improved to 1-1 with the win and will now prepare for Bryant at home on Sunday.