The Big Ten had a fantastic day of action on Saturday, highlighted by four marquee non-conference matchups. Perhaps the biggest featured Purdue and Wisconsin traveling away from home to face tough Arizona and Alabama squads.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 4 Purdue Boilermakers 92, Alabama Crimson Tide 86
The Boilermakers have played a brutal slate to open the season and things remained challenging on Saturday, as the team went north of the border to face off against a dynamic Alabama squad in Toronto. It figured to be a great opportunity for Purdue to challenge itself against a perimeter-oriented team.
The game itself was highly entertaining. Purdue got down big in the opening minutes, but gradually clawed itself back as the first half closed. Zach Edey was the biggest force, finishing with 35 points and seven rebounds. Braden Smith also had an impressive 27 points, eight assists, and five rebounds. Ultimately, Purdue was able to grab the lead and scored an important 92-86 win.
Purdue improved to 9-1 overall with the win. However, perhaps more importantly, it proved its resilience. The team was down, but didn’t falter, even against the type of opponent that’s given the program trouble in recent years. That has to leave fans thrilled as the team returns home. The Boilers will return to action next Saturday in Indianapolis for what could be a Final Four level matchup against Arizona. Expect an incredible environment.
-No. 17 Tennessee Volunteers 86, No. 20 Illinois Fighting Illini 79
While Illinois fell short in this one, there wasn’t nothing to be ashamed about. Illiois went on the road to face a really tough Tennessee squad and simply fell short. It was a hard fought game that was competitive until the last two minutes or so. Terrence Shannon and Quincy Guerrier combined for 44 points. Tennessee got a more even approach, with five players finishing in double-digits.
Illinois fell to 7-2 overall with the loss. The team will now get a week off before facing off against Colgate at home next Sunday. It should be an easy win for Illinois.
-Auburn Tigers 104, Indiana Hoosiers 76
For most of this season, it’s felt like Indiana has been surviving on the razor’s edge, barely edging out teams in the closing minutes and/or facing off against underwhelming competition. Unfortunately, that didn’t hold up on Saturday, as Indiana got absolutely dominated by a really good Auburn squad in Atlanta. Indiana gave up 1.41 points per possession and the game was over by halftime.
Indiana fell to 7-2 overall with the loss. The question now is where the Hoosiers go from here. While Indiana jumped out to a 7-1 start, nothing about the team’s performance suggested it was going to be sustainable against tougher competition. Indiana’s advanced numbers (78th on KenPom) are middling and the team’s close wins raise serious doubts. We’ll have to see what Mike Woodson and his staff can do before the massive matchup against Kansas at home next Saturday.
-Minnesota Golden Gophers 77, Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 57
The Gophers cruised in this one, thanks to 17 points from Joshua Ola-Joseph and 13 points off the bench from Isaiah Ihnen. Minnesota improved to 7-3 overall with the win. The team will now prepare for IUPUI at home on Tuesday. It figures to be another win.
-Penn State Nittany Lions 83, Ohio State Buckeyes 80
This was arguably the most shocking outcome of the day. The team entered the afternoon in vastly different spots, with Penn State coming off five straight losses and Ohio State looking like it was hitting its stride. It looked like it was going to be a one-sided affair.
And for most of the afternoon, those projections held up. Ohio State jumped out to an early lead and led by double-digits with roughly 10 minutes remaining. However, the Buckeyes then gave up a 13-1 run to Penn State. Ohio State tried to regain the lead in the closing minutes, but fell short by an 83-80 margin. Leo O’Boyle had a great performance off the bench with 15 points and four rebounds. D’Marco Dunn also had 16 points.
Penn State improved to 5-5 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play with the win while Ohio State fell to 8-2 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions will hope to build off this win against Georgia Tech next Saturday in New York. The Buckeyes will now prepare for UCLA in Atlanta next Saturday.
-Rutgers Scarlet Knights 70, Seton Hall Musketeers 63
This was another great game that was competitive for most of the outing. However, Rutgers’ defense proved to be too much for Seton Hall, holding the Musketeers to just 0.97 points per possession. Clifford Omoruyi led the way with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Noah Fernandes also had 19 points.
The win pushed Rutgers to 6-3 overall. The Scarlet Knights will now get a week off to celebrate their win before facing LIU at home next Saturday. It should be a win.
-No. 1 Arizona Wildcats 98, No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers 73
A month ago, this looked like a loss for the Badgers. However, Wisconsin’s improved play had many thinking this one would be a nail biter. Unfortunately for Badger fans, the original thoughts proved to be true, as Arizona rolled to a blowout win. Five Wildcats finished in double-figures and Arizona very much looked like the nation’s top ranked team.
Wisconsin fell to 7-3 overall with the loss, but the Badgers remain in good shape. The team already has at least four quality wins, including a huge upset over Marquette earlier this month. The team will now get a few days off before facing off against Jacksonville State at home on Thursday.