The Big Ten had a full slate of games on Saturday, with six teams in action. A matchup between Iowa and Purdue figured to be the most intriguing games, but Nebraska and Northwestern had other thoughts. Ohio State and Penn State also faced off.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Nebraska Cornhuskers 75, Northwestern Wildcats 69
The Huskers entered this one as solid favorites and eventually came out on top. However, it took quite a bit of work to get there. Northwestern pushed Nebraska out of the gate and kept things close until deep in the second half, when the Huskers responded to a huge Northwestern run to put the game away in the closing minutes. Josiah Allick led the way for Nebraska with 15 points and five rebounds. Brooks Barnhizer had 24 points for the Wildcats.
Nebraska improved to 14-5 overall and 4-4 in Big Ten play with the win. This was an important one on several fronts. To start, it snapped a two-game skid for the Huskers, which included a brutal road loss to Rutgers earlier in the week. It also protected home court and gave the team a solid win for its NCAA resume. Winning the games you “should” win is a key component of making the postseason and this one fell into that category. It’s all about surviving and advancing for the Huskers and they did it here.
On the other side, Northwestern fell to 13-5 overall and 4-3 in Big Ten play with the loss. The team is now just 1-2 over its last three games and 3-3 over its last six. Those struggles have put the Wildcats on the outside of a variety of NCAA bubble projects. TRank now has Northwestern as one of the last four teams in the field and with just a 27.5 percent chance to make the cut on Selection Sunday. Not a great sign of what’s to come.
The Huskers return to action on Tuesday at home against Ohio State. Northwestern will try and bounce back against arch-rival Illinois at home on Wednesday. A win there and the team’s NCAA hopes would improve considerably.
-Ohio State Buckeyes 79, Penn State Nittany Lions 67
This was another one that went as expected, but had a little drama along the way. The Buckeyes were without Scotty Middleton after he was sidelined shortly before tipoff, yet found a way to score a 12-point home win over Penn State. Evan Mahaffey led the way with 16 points and five rebounds. Jamison Battle also had 11 points and six rebounds.
Ohio State improved to 13-5 overall and 3-4 in Big Ten play with the win while Penn State fell to 9-10 overall and 3-5 in Big Ten play with the loss. The win snapped a three-game skid for the Buckeyes, who will hope to build on it against Nebraska on the road on Tuesday. Penn State returns to action on the 27th at home against Minnesota.
-No. 2 Purdue Boilermakers 84, Iowa Hawkeyes 70
The Boilermakers scored a comfortable win in this one, topping Iowa on the road by 14 points. Purdue got up early and never looked back. Zach Edey led the way with an incredible 30 points and 18 rebounds. Lance Jones also had 17 points. All told, Purdue scored 1.22 points per possession.
Purdue improved to 17-2 overall and 6-2 in Big Ten play with the win while Iowa fell to 11-7 overall and 3-4 in Big Ten play. The Boilers will return to action on Tuesday at home against Michigan. Iowa gets Maryland at home on Wednesday.