The Big Ten had three intriguing games on Tuesday, highlighted by a ranked matchup in New York between Illinois and Florida Atlantic. There were also two other conference games with postseason implications.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 20 Illinois Fighting Illini 98, No. 11 Florida Atlantic Owls 89
After Saturday’s win over Rutgers, Illinois fans were feeling pretty good about their team and hoping for big things on Tuesday against a really good Florida Atlantic squad. However, this would be the team’s toughest test (at least on paper) since it fell short against Marquette about a month ago.
Fortunately, Illinois showed up well this time.
While Illinois started a bit slow, the team gained momentum as the first half closed and performed really well down the stretch. Marcus Domask and Terrence Shannon were incredible in the win, combining for 66 points on the night. Justin Harmon also had a big night off the bench with 10 points and two rebounds. The offense was generally really good, finishing with 1.31 points per possession.
The win pushed Illinois to 7-1 overall and 1-0 in Big Ten play, but more importantly got the team its first marquee win of the season. This one is going to do wonders for Illinois’ resume moving forward. A neutral court win over a squad like this is really valuable. Fans have to be thrilled about where things are headed.
Illinois will return to action on Saturday on the road against Tennessee. That one is expected to be an uphill battle.
-Indiana Hoosiers 78, Michigan Wolverines 75
This projected as a close game heading into tip and that largely felt right. Neither team had looked particularly sharp to start the season, but hadn’t looked terrible either. The Hoosiers had simply finished the job in close games, while Michigan had fallen short against opponents like Memphis and Oregon.
The game itself played out that way, going down to the wire. But the Hoosiers were able to do just enough to get out with a win. Malik Reneau led the way with 15 points and six rebounds. Kel’el Ware also had 13 points.
Indiana improved to 7-1 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten play with the win, while Michigan fell to 4-5 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Hoosiers will now prepare for a game against Auburn in Atlanta on Saturday. Michigan will try and get back on track against Iowa on the road on Sunday.
-No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers 70, Michigan State Spartans 57
This was a bit of a slog for portions, but the Badgers were able to go into East Lansing and get the job done thanks to 22 points from AJ Storr and 18 points from Steven Crowl. Wisconsin used a fast start and solid three-point shooting (43.5 percent) to get out with the win. Notably, Wisconsin has now won three straight in the Breslin Center, which isn’t something you hear about often.
Wisconsin improved to 7-2 overall and 1-0 in Big Ten play with the win while Michigan State fell to 4-4 overall and 0-1 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Badgers are now quietly emerging as a Big Ten title contender. The team will now prepare for Arizona on the road on Saturday. Michigan State will try and bounce back on the road against Nebraska on Sunday.