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2/14 Big Ten Recap: Nebraska Upsets Rutgers

Recap all the Big Ten action from Tuesday.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Love was in the air on Tuesday night, or at least for some Big Ten teams as fans got to enjoy three fun matchups with postseason implications. Most thought Michigan’s game with Wisconsin would be the best, but Nebraska pulled off an upset over Rutgers, significantly changing perceptions.

Let’s take a look at what happened.

Game of the Night:

-Nebraska Cornhuskers 82, Rutgers Scarlet Knights 72

A few weeks ago, this game projected as a complete mismatch. Rutgers was ranked, rolling, and still had slim Big Ten title hopes while Nebraska was reeling after a variety of losses that seemed to have doomed the Huskers’ season and Fred Hoiberg’s tenure. It seemed unlikely Nebraska could even push the Scarlet Knights, let alone pull off the upset.

However, things felt and would prove to be different on Tuesday night, as Nebraska was the team entering the matchup with momentum. The Huskers had won two of three while Rutgers was coming off painful losses to Indiana and Illinois. Nebraska would carry that momentum into the game as Sam Griesel led the Huskers to a shocking road win over the Scarlet Knights. Griesel finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists. Keisei Tominaga also had 22 points as Nebraska shredded Rutgers’ flaunted defense.

For Nebraska, it’s hard to undersell the significance of this one. The win propelled the Huskers to 13-14 overall, 6-10 in Big Ten play, and potentially on the verge of the program’s first postseason bid since 2019. Nebraska will need a good finish to make the NIT, but this one puts the possibility on the table. Fans will hope the Huskers can build on the win with Maryland at home on Sunday.

On the other side, Rutgers fell to 16-10 overall and 8-7 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Scarlet Knights have now lost three straight and four of the team’s last six games. The loss of Mawot Mag continues to linger and Rutgers has quickly watched its once promising start evaporate over the last few weeks. The Scarlet Knights are quietly just 5-6 over the team’s last 11 games. The team will need to get things fixed, and soon. That effort will begin on Saturday on the road against Wisconsin.

The Rest:

-Penn State Nittany Lions 93, Illinois Fighting Illini 81

The Nittany Lions dominated the first matchup between these teams in early December and did so yet again on Tuesday now, cruising to a 93-81 win over the Illini. Jalen Pickett was absolutely incredible in the win, finishing with 41 points and eight assists. It was easily Pickett’s best game of the season and one of the best by any Big Ten player this season. Seth Lundy also finished with 15 points and seven rebounds.

Penn State improved to 15-11 overall and 6-9 in Big Ten play with the win while Illinois fell to 17-8 overall and 8-6 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Nittany Lions remain outside the field in most NCAA Tournament projections, so still need a good finish to make the cut. Penn State will hope to add a road win on Saturday over Minnesota. Illinois will try and bounce back against Indiana on the road on Saturday.

-Wisconsin Badgers 64, Michigan Wolverines 59

This was a pretty competitive game, with some significant swings in the second half. However, Wisconsin always felt a step or two ahead of the Wolverines and was eventually able to grab a 64-59 win to improve to 15-10 overall and 7-8 in Big Ten play. Connor Essegian led the way with 23 points and three rebounds. Michigan fell to 14-12 overall and 8-7 in Big Ten play with the loss.

Like Penn State above, Wisconsin also remains on bubble watch and will hope to make up some ground with Rutgers at home on Saturday. Michigan will hope to keep its NIT hopes alive with Michigan State at home on Saturday night.