The Big Ten only had one game on Wednesday night after Michigan State’s game was cancelled on account of the tragic events in East Lansing earlier this week. However, the remaining game was a significant one with Indiana going on the road to face Northwestern.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Northwestern Wildcats 64, No. 14 Indiana Hoosiers 62
Wins and losses are generally determined by which team is better. And that makes sense. The team with the better players, coaching, and fundamentals comes out on top. It’s a good rule of thumb and holds true most of the time.
However, in a sport with a season as long as college basketball, much is also determined by when games are played. Injuries pile up and teams go through ups and downs. If you catch an opponent at the right time, there’s a chance you could steal a game you’d otherwise lose.
And there are few teams that better encapsulate that than Indiana and Northwestern this season. Just look at Indiana’s performance this season:
- Opened the season at 7-0.
- Followed that with a 3-6 performance.
- Rebounded by going 8-1 heading into Wednesday night.
Northwestern went through a similar run, switching between great and underwhelming every few weeks.
It all made Wednesday’s meeting particularly intriguing as both sides entered the game playing well and looking for a huge win to help them pursue their goals. For Indiana, it was a late season run toward the Big Ten title. And for Northwestern, it was a shot at making the program’s second ever NCAA Tournament.
All told, the game would live up to the hype.
For 40 minutes, the two sides battle. Northwestern took an early lead and controlled the game, but the Hoosiers never let up thanks to 23 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists from Trayce Jackson-Davis. However, Northwestern was able to slow down Jalen Hood-Schifino and made him really inefficient on the night, as the freshman guard finished with 13 points on 16 attempts and had just two assists. It was an impressive defensive effort for the Wildcats as they did just enough to cross the finish line and secure the win.
Obviously, it was a massive win for the Wildcats. The team improved to 19-7 overall, 10-5 in Big Ten play, and likely put itself inside the Field of 68 as we move toward March. At this point, it would take a monumental collapse to keep the Wildcats outside and that has to have fans thrilled considering the last few years. Northwestern also remained red hot heading into the most important weeks of the season, as the Wildcats have won four straight and seven of the team’s last nine games.
For Indiana, it’s certainly got to be disappointing to let a game like this slip away. The Hoosiers were in position to win, but just didn’t have enough to grab the win. The loss also likely ends Indiana’s faint Big Ten title hopes. However, the team still has an impressive resume and has more than enough talent to get a great seed in March.
Northwestern will now hope to keep things rolling at home against Iowa on Sunday. Indiana will return to action on Saturday at home against Illinois.