The Big Ten had two games on Saturday. Neither game looked fantastic heading into tip, but both were important for the conference standings. Penn State traveled to face Purdue and Wisconsin hosted Northwestern.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 15 Wisconsin Badgers 71, Northwestern Wildcats 63
Despite what the national rankings and preseason projections might say, Wisconsin entered Saturday as the Big Ten’s top team, at least in the conference standings. The Badgers were a perfect 4-0 and hoped to add another win against an overmatched Northwestern. The Wildcats were hoping to pull off an upset an build their NCAA resume further.
The game itself was pretty competitive, though the Badgers had control by halftime. Northwestern closed things up for a bit in the second half, but couldn’t keep pace after that. Max Klesmit led the way for the Badgers with 24 points and two assists. AJ Storr also had 14 points and five rebounds. It was a total team effort for Wisconsin to get the win.
The Badgers improved to 13-3 overall and 5-0 in Big Ten play with the win. There’s little debating Wisconsin is one of the nation’s hottest teams right now, having won six straight and 12 of the team’s last 13 games dating back to early November. Wisconsin has also gradually risen up the KenPom ratings, now sitting at 10th nationally. By every measure, this looks like a top seed in March and fans have to be thrilled about that. If the team can keep up this momentum, it has a great shot to win the league.
Northwestern fell to 12-4 overall and 3-2 in Big Ten play. While it was disappointing to see the team fall short, it’s hard to complain much about losing a game on the road against a top 10 to 15 opponent. As long as Northwestern can rebound, it should be in decent shape to make an NCAA Tournament push.
Wisconsin will return to action on Tuesday on the road against Penn State. Northwestern gets Maryland at home on Wednesday.
-No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers 95, Penn State Nittany Lions 78
This looked like a mismatch heading into tip and played out that way, with Purdue cruising to a double-digit win. The Boilermakers finished with 1.28 points per possession, thanks in large part to 30 points and 20 rebounds from Zach Edey. Lance Jones also had 14 points and four assists.
Purdue improved to 15-2 overall and 4-2 in Big Ten play with the win while Penn State fell to 8-9 overall and 2-4 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Boilers will now prepare for arch-rival Indiana on the road on Tuesday. Penn State will get Wisconsin at home on Tuesday.