Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Maryland Terrapins 76, No. 10 Illinois Fighting Illini 67
Illinois was a heavy favorite heading into this one. A top 10 team playing at home is usually a safe bet, let alone a top 10 team playing against a squad who’s struggled as much as Maryland this season. KenPom gave the Illini over 90 percent odds to grab the win at tip.
However, Sunday was another great example about why the games are played. The Terps started slow, but gradually took control of this one and earned an impressive nine-point road win when all was said and done. Jahmir Young led the way with 28 points, eight assists, and two rebounds. Julian Reese also had 20 points and 11 rebounds. Illinois could never get its offense going either, finishing with just 0.97 points per possession.
Maryland improved to 11-6 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten play with the win. It was a massive win for a squad that’s failed to live up to its sizable preseason expectations. And while we have to avoid overreacting to a single win, this is the kind of game that can drastically reshape a season. Add it on top of last week’s win over Michigan and the Terps are starting to build some real momentum. Even just another upset or two and Maryland could get back into the at-large discussion.
On the other side, Illinois fell to 12-4 overall and 3-2 in Big Ten play. This was easily Illinois’ worst loss of the season, though the team was bound to lose to a non-elite opponent at some point in the year. By itself, the loss wasn’t that bad. However, it’ll cause fans some heartburn as the team moves on from the Terrence Shannon news. It’s still unclear what this team is without Shannon in the lineup. Fans have to hope its more the group that beat Michigan State on Thursday than this one.
The Terps will try and keep things rolling on the road against rival Northwestern on Wednesday. Illinois will hope to bounce back against Michigan on the road on Thursday.
-Michigan State Spartans 73, Rutgers Scarlet Knights 55
This looked like it could be an intriguing game, but the Spartans had other thoughts. Michigan State jumped out to a solid lead around halftime and never looked back. Malik Hall led the way with 15 points and six rebounds. Rutgers finished with an underwhelming 0.86 points per possession.
Michigan State improved to 10-7 overall and 2-4 in Big Ten play with the win while Rutgers fell to 9-7 overall and 1-4 in Big Ten play. The Spartans will now prepare for a winnable game against Minnesota at home on Thursday. Rutgers gets Nebraska at home on Wednesday next.