The Big Ten had two games on Wednesday. The most notable was a road trip for a top 10 Illinois squad against Northwestern. Iowa also hosted Maryland.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Northwestern Wildcats 96, No. 10 Illinois Fighting Illini 91 (OT)
After scoring two convincing wins last week, Illinois traveled north in the hopes of grabbing another win over rival Northwestern. It was the second meeting between the two teams this season, after Illinois blew out the Wildcats to open the new year. The game had plenty of bad blood on both sides, thanks in large part to the events surrounding Illinois guard Terrence Shannon:
Yeeesh... Northwestern crowd chanting 'No Means No' every time that Terrence Shannon Jr. touches the ball, and it is VERY audible even on the TV broadcast.— Brendan Marks (@BrendanRMarks) January 25, 2024
Both sides played with plenty of passion and things went back and forth for much of the second half. Boo Buie and Brooks Barnhizer had incredible nights for the Wildcats, combining for 52 points. Buie also had seven assists. Northwestern eventually had just enough in the extra session to grab a 96-91 win. Both teams finished above 1.2 points per possession.
Northwestern improved to 14-5 overall and 5-3 in Big Ten play with the win. It’s the team’s second win over a top 10 opponent this season and its four over a top 25 KenPom opponent. All four wins came at home and Evanston is quickly becoming one of the league’s tougher places to grab a road win. This win will do wonders for the team’s NCAA at-large hopes, putting it in great shape heading into the final month and a half.
On the other side, Illinois fell to 14-5 overall and 5-3 in Big Ten play. Despite winning two straight heading into Wednesday’s matchup, the team has quietly now lost three of its last six games. If Illinois hopes to become a serious player in the Big Ten title race, it’s going to need to start closing out some of these winnable games.
The Wildcats will return to action on Saturday at home against Ohio State in what projects to be a pretty winnable game. Illinois gets Indiana at home on Saturday.
-Maryland Terrapins 69, Iowa Hawkeyes 67
For at least the third time this season, Maryland went on the road and scored a shocking win as fans were abandoning hope. The first came against UCLA in December, the second against Illinois roughly two weeks ago, and the third was on Wednesday night, as the Terps went on the road and beat Iowa in a game few expected the Terps would win. Iowa actually controlled large segments of the game, but Jahmir Young and Julian Reese’s combined 39 points and some quality defense got Maryland the win.
Maryland improved to 12-8 overall and 4-5 in Big Ten play with the win while Iowa fell to 11-8 overall and 3-5 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Terps will now prepare for Nebraska at home on Saturday. The Hawkeyes will try and get back on track against Michigan on the road on Saturday. Both are generally considered tossups.