The Big Ten had two games on Thursday and both had significant NCAA Tournament implications. Purdue hosted Iowa in the early game and Northwestern went on the road to battle Ohio State later on.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
On New Year’s Day, Northwestern and Ohio State matched up for the first time this season. Both teams were playing well and it figured to be a good barometer or where both programs were trending this season. The game was eventually relatively one-sided, with Ohio State pulling away for a double-digit road win over the Wildcats. Most figured the Buckeyes would use the win to launch into a Big Ten title campaign.
Instead, Ohio State nosedived after the game. The Buckeyes haven’t just struggled, they’ve been decimated. The team went 1-9 following its win over Northwestern, including three losses at home and three losses to opponents lower than Ohio State on KenPom. It was a dreadful run Buckeye fans were hoping the team could overcome on Thursday night.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
While the Buckeyes got off to a nice start, the team couldn’t maintain it into the second half. Northwestern used 19 points from Brooks Barnhizer to put some pressure on Ohio State and pull away for a 69-63 win. The win pushed Northwestern to 17-7 overall and 8-5 in Big Ten play while Ohio State fell to 11-13 overall and 3-10 in Big Ten play.
Thursday’s win puts Northwestern on the praecipe of securing an NCAA Tournament bid. While 17 wins won’t lock things up with Northwestern’s schedule, it’s not too far off either. Even another win or two might be enough to make the cut for only the second time in program history. That effort will begin on Sunday at home against Purdue.
On the other side, Ohio State continues spiraling. The Buckeyes haven’t won a game since January 21st and have lost 10 of the team’s last 11 games. And there’s no telling where it will stop with more challenging games on the docket next. Ohio State will return to action on Sunday at home against Michigan State.
-No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers 87, Iowa Hawkeyes 73
This projected as a Purdue win heading into tip and played out that way, with the Boilers running away for a 14-point win. Iowa’s defense was absolutely shredded in the matchup, allowing 1.23 points per possession. Braden Smith finished with 24 points and Zach Edey had 14 points and 14 rebounds.
The win pushed Purdue to 23-2 overall and 12-2 in Big Ten play while Iowa fell to 15-9 overall and 7-6 in Big Ten play. The Boilers will return to action on Sunday on the road against Northwestern. Iowa will try to bounce back against Minnesota on the road on Sunday.