The Big Ten had a special night on Friday. The league opened conference play for the 2023-’24 season and fans got treated to two fantastic matchups and environments.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Northwestern Wildcats 92, No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers 88
Entering Friday’s matchup, this looked like a mismatch on paper. Purdue was coming off a tremendous week and a half that included three marquee victories in Hawaii. Meanwhile, Northwestern had shown some fight, but only ranked in the low 50s on KenPom and had gotten handled by Mississippi State earlier in the month.
But that’s why we play the games.
Northwestern didn’t just push the Boilers. The team came out swinging and started seriously pushing Purdue as the first half came to a close. Boo Buie was incredible in the outing and finished with 31 points, nine assists, and four rebounds. The teams exchanged blows in the second half and were eventually pushed to overtime, where Northwestern got just enough to grab the win.
Of course, fans immediately rushed the court and celebrated well into the night. Northwestern improved to 6-1 overall and 1-0 in Big Ten play. It marks the second straight season where the Wildcats have upset the Boilers at home. There’s little arguing this will be a valuable win on Selection Sunday.
On the other side, Purdue fell to 7-1 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten play with the loss. It was a frustrating loss and the team’s backcourt underwhelmed, which has been a reoccurring issue over the last few years. Matt Painter and staff will need to do some work there to avoid a repeat of last year’s horror in March.
Northwestern will return to action on Sunday at home against Detroit Mercy. Purdue will return home and get Iowa on Monday night. Both are favored.
-Indiana Hoosiers 65, Maryland Terrapins 53
These teams entered Friday’s meeting in largely similar positions, as both had shown inconsistent play. The projections also slotted it pretty evenly. However, Indiana took control early and never looked back. Kel’el Ware led the way with 18 points, 14 rebounds, and one assist. MacKenzie Mgbako also had 13 points and seven rebounds. The final score was misleadingly close as much of Maryland’s scoring came in the closing minutes.
Indiana improved to 6-1 overall and 1-0 in Big Ten play with the win while Maryland fell to 4-4 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Hoosiers will hope to use this win as a springboard into the team’s road game against Michigan on Tuesday. Maryland will try and rebound against Penn State at home on Wednesday.