The Big Ten had a loaded Saturday slate, with five games on the docket. All five had NCAA Tournament implications.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 10 Illinois Fighting Illini 70, Indiana Hoosiers 62
This didn’t figure to be a competitive game heading into tip. Indiana had struggled to close the deal against quality competition and Illinois entered as a top 10 squad. Add in a great home crowd for the Illini and it was easy to see a blowout coming. However, that didn’t end up happening. The teams battled throughout and Illinois didn’t put it away until the closing minutes. Marcus Domask led the way with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Terrence Shannon also had 12 points and six rebounds.
Illinois improved to 15-5 overall and 6-3 in Big Ten play with the win. It was an emotional win, especially after the letdown against Northwestern on Wednesday. Illinois still needs some help to get back in the Big Ten title race, but this at least keeps the team in the picture for another week. TRank only gives the team a 5.4 percent chance of sharing the crown, so it’s probably not a realistic goal at this point. However, we’ve seen crazy things happen before. Illinois just needs to keep taking care of business in the meantime.
On the other side, Indiana fell to 12-8 overall and 4-5 in Big Ten play with the loss. It was the team’s third-straight loss. Notably, Indiana is just 2-5 over its last seven games and has watched a 7-1 start fizzle into what isn’t even looking like an NIT resume. Unfortunately, the recipe continues to be the same — the Hoosiers have been terrible from three, going 0-for-9 from deep on Saturday. That’s just not going to cut it against an opponent like this.
Illinois will return to action on Tuesday on the road against Ohio State. Indiana hopes to bounce back against Iowa at home on Tuesday.
-Iowa Hawkeyes 88, Michigan Wolverines 78
The Wolverines won the first meeting between these teams, but Iowa had other thoughts this time, scoring a double-digit road win. Payton Sandfort led the way with 26 points and six rebounds. Tony Perkins also had 24 points, as he crossed the 1,000 point mark in Saturday’s win. Both teams finished above 1.1 points per possession.
Iowa improved to 12-8 overall and 4-5 in Big Ten play with the win while Michigan fell to 7-13 overall and 2-7 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Hawkeyes will hope to keep the momentum going with Indiana on the road on Tuesday. Michigan will get rival Michigan State on the road on Tuesday.
-Maryland Terrapins 73, Nebraska Cornhuskers 51
This was supposed to be a major opportunity for the Huskers — a chance to add a valuable road win to the team’s NCAA resume against a beatable opponent. Unfortunately for Husker fans, that’s not how things worked out. Maryland steamrolled Nebraska, scoring a 22-point win that probably wasn’t even as close as the final. Maryland’s defense was suffocating, holding Nebraska to just 0.81 points per possession. Julian Reese had 15 points and 16 rebounds. Jahmir Young also had 12 points, six assists, and nine rebounds.
Maryland improved to 13-8 overall and 5-5 in Big Ten play with the win while Nebraska fell to 15-6 overall and 5-5 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Terps will return to action next Saturday on the road against Michigan State. Nebraska will prepare for Wisconsin at home on Thursday.
-Minnesota Golden Gophers 83, Penn State Nittany Lions 74
Penn State was in firm control of this one around halftime. However, the Nittany Lions melted down from there, allowing the Gophers to overcome a 16-point deficit to grab the win. Dawson Garcia and Cam Christie combined for 39 points. Minnesota’s offense finished with 1.22 points per possession.
The Gophers improved to 13-7 overall and 4-5 in Big Ten play with the win while Penn State fell to 9-11 overall and 3-6 in Big Ten play with the loss. The win snapped a four-game skid for Minnesota, who will hope to earn another win next Saturday at home against Northwestern. Penn State will try and rebound against Rutgers on the road on Wednesday.
-Northwestern Wildcats 83, Ohio State Buckeyes 58
This figured to be the Game of the Night, considering both teams entered firmly on the NCAA bubble. However, Ohio State was a no show and the Wildcats ran the Buckeyes off the floor by the opening minutes of the second half. Boo Buie led the way with 19 points, five rebounds, and five assists. The Buckeyes failed to even break a point a possession.
Northwestern improved to 15-5 overall and 6-3 in Big Ten play with the win while the Buckeyes fell to 13-7 overall and 3-6 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Wildcats will get Purdue on the road next on Wednesday. Ohio State gets Illinois at home on Tuesday.