The Big Ten had a monster slate on Saturday, highlighted by a rivalry showdown in Bloomington between Indiana and Purdue. Fans also got to enjoy a battle between Illinois and Iowa and two other important contests.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 21 Indiana Hoosiers 79, No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers 74
Over the course of any given season, you get a few games that are good enough to rise above the competition. Matchups that are not only marquee, but end spectacularly. The kind where memories are made and photo replicas will be sold for years.
Saturday had a few of those games.
And one of them happened in Bloomington.
Heading into the week, it was obvious this would be the matchup of the week for the Big Ten. Anytime Indiana and Purdue play, it’s going to be special enough, but this one packed even more of a punch, with both teams ranked, an epic battle down low, and a frenzied Bloomington ready for tip well before the teams even showed up. It had all the makings of something special.
Fortunately, it delivered.
From the game’s opening tip, it was clear the Hoosiers were ready for the challenge. Indiana jumped out to an early lead thanks to some quality defense and incredible play from Trayce Jackson-Davis, who eventually finished with 25 points and seven rebounds. By halftime, it looked like the Hoosiers were going to cruise to a win.
However, Purdue had other thoughts, as Zach Edey went off for 33 points and gradually clawed the Boilermakers back into the game. By the time things got to the final five minutes, it was a legitimate battle and even got down to a possession late. Fortunately for Hoosier fans, Indiana answered the bell and got just enough stops and capitalized on some rough Purdue mistakes to escape with a 79-74 win.
Obviously, there’s little denying the significane of this one in Bloomington. The win not only pushed the team to 16-7 overall and 7-5 in Big Ten play, but established the team as a legitimate contender this season. If you can beat a team like Purdue, you can compete against anybody in March. And that’s great news for the Hoosiers after some ups and downs over the last few months.
On the other side, Purdue fell to 22-2 overall and 11-2 in Big Ten play with the loss. This one will sting for Boilermaker fans, but largely because of the rivalry implications. Purdue remains in excellent position in the Big Ten and for more in March, even after falling on the road on Saturday. The Boilers may not be No. 1 on Monday, but the team should be as Purdue still has the nation’s best resume, and it’s not even debatable.
Indiana will hope to build off this win with Rutgers at home on Tuesday. A win there would establish the Hoosiers as the second-best team in the conference. Purdue will hope to bounce back against Iowa at home on Thursday.
-Iowa Hawkeyes 81, Illinois Fighting Illini 79
This one had a lot of bad feelings coming in, thanks to some off court drama between Illinois’ student section and Iowa’s ticket office. Fortunately, the game was good enough to make most forget about that nonsense. The matchup was extremely competitive and went down to the final minutes before Iowa pulled out the win. Tony Perkins had an incredible showing in the victory, finishing with 32 points and three rebounds.
Iowa improved to 15-8 overall and 7-5 in Big Ten play with the win while Illinois fell to 16-7 overall and 7-5 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Hawkeyes will now prepare for a really challenging road game against Purdue on Thursday. Illinois will hope to bounce back with Minnesota at home on Tuesday.
-Maryland Terrapins 81, Minnesota Golden Gophers 46
This was the only uncompetitive game of the day, as Maryland dominated Minnesota on the road to improve to 16-7 overall and 7-5 in Big Ten play. Julian Reese led the way with 16 points and five rebounds. Minnesota fell to 7-15 overall and 1-11 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Terps will now prepare for a road game against Michigan State on Tuesday while Minnesota tries to rebound against Illinois on the road on Tuesday.
-Rutgers Scarlet Knights 61, Michigan State Spartans 55
This game was played in Madison Square Garden and it seemed to fit the bill of the old New York Knights teams, as it was a physical showing reliant on quality defense. Neither team finished with even a point a possession as Rutgers grabbed a narrow 61-55 win. Cliff Omoruyi led the way with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Paul Mulcahy also had 17 points.
Rutgers improved to 16-7 overall and 8-4 in Big Ten play with the win while Michigan State fell to 14-9 overall and 6-6 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Scarlet Knights will hope to keep things rolling on the road against Indiana on Tuesday. Michigan State will get Maryland at home on Tuesday.