The Big Ten had a loaded slate on Saturday, highlighted by a marquee matchup between Indiana and Michigan in Ann Arbor on Saturday night. Fans also got to see a ranked Rutgers team in action and two other games with postseason implications.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 18 Indiana Hoosiers 62, Michigan Wolverines 61
This was an important one for both sides entering tip. Indiana needed the win to keep its faint Big Ten title hopes alive and Michigan desperately needed a marquee win on its resume to improve its hopes of making the cut for the NCAA Tournament. Add in a Saturday night crowd and things set up for a fantastic matchup.
Early on, it was Michigan that came out roaring. The Wolverines got some great play from Kobe Bufkin and Hunter Dickinson was a monster presence down low. However, some key mistakes down the stretch in the first half allowed Indiana to get back within striking distance. Then, Trayce Jackson-Davis went off in the second half, pushing Indiana to a narrow win in the final minutes. The Hoosier big man finished with an incredible 28 points and 13 rebounds.
For Indiana, this was a significant one. The Hoosiers not only improved to 18-7 overall and 9-5 in Big Ten play with the win, but added a great road win to its resume. Indiana also kept pace in the Big Ten title hunt for at least another game. It’s hard to see Indiana making up its three-game deficit on Purdue with only six games remaining, but this keeps it alive. Hoosier fans will be hoping the Boilers go down to Northwestern on the road on Sunday. A loss there and things could get really interesting.
On the other side, Wolverine fans have to be devastated about this one. Michigan led for the vast majority of this game, but couldn’t do enough to close things out when they counted most. Unfortunately, that’s been a theme for much of the season, as Michigan has played a bunch of quality opponents down to the final minutes, only to lose by a few buckets. It’s arguably the reason why Michigan is sitting outside the NCAA Tournament right now. And this might be the most painful one yet considering the stakes.
Indiana will hope to build off this one with Northwestern on the road on Wednesday. Michigan will try and bounce back on the road against Wisconsin on Tuesday.
-Illinois Fighting Illini 69, No. 24 Rutgers Scarlet Knights 60
For much of this season, Illinois has been a so close team. Illinois has generally done what it should, but hasn’t been able to reach that next tier of success. It’s been so close to reaching that next level and knocking off some high end competition.
However, that changed on Saturday as Illinois not only beat a ranked Rutgers team, but did it convincingly. Illinois controlled most of the second half and Coleman Hawkins was fantastic, finishing with 18 points and eight rebounds. Illinois’ defense held as well, holding Rutgers to just 0.87 points per possession.
Illinois improved to 17-7 overall and 8-5 in Big Ten play while Rutgers fell to 16-9 overall and 8-6 in Big Ten play. The Illini will hope to keep things going on the road against Penn State on Tuesday as the team hopes to avenge a loss to the Nittany Lions earlier this season. Rutgers will try and rebound against Nebraska at home on Tuesday.
The Terps have been playing really well over the last few weeks and kept it going on Saturday with a solid win over Penn State at home. Hakim Hart led the way with 23 points, five rebounds, and four assists. The win was particularly impressive because the team got so much from others outside of Jahmir Young. Fans will hope that’s a sign of things to come, as Maryland tries to become more complete.
Maryland improved to 17-8 overall and 8-6 in Big Ten play with the win while Penn State fell to 14-11 overall and 5-9 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Terps have now won five of the team’s last six games and will hope to add a monster win on Thursday at home against Purdue. The Nittany Lions will try and get back on track against Illinois at home on Tuesday.
-Nebraska Cornhuskers 73, Wisconsin Badgers 63 (OT)
Every season, a Big Ten team’s Tournament hopes are doomed by a loss to an underwhelming opponents or two in conference play. Unfortunately for Badger fans, that may be Wisconsin, as the team blew a manageable game against Nebraska on Saturday. The Badgers were in position to win, but a putrid 0.88 points per possession effort wasn’t enough to grab the road win. Keisei Tominaga led the Huskers with 22 points.
Nebraska improved to 12-14 overall and 5-10 in Big Ten play with the win while Wisconsin fell to 14-10 overall and 6-8 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Huskers will now prepare for Rutgers on the road on Tuesday. Wisconsin will hope to rebound against Michigan at home on Tuesday.