The Big Ten had a full slate on Saturday, featuring multiple games with NCAA Tournament implications. The most significant was between Minnesota and Northwestern.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Minnesota Golden Gophers 75, Northwestern Wildcats 66 (OT)
Over the last few weeks, it seemed like Northwestern was elevating to the top tier of the Big Ten. The Wildcats were holding serve at home and nearly beat Purdue on the road on Wednesday. However, that momentum didn’t carry over to Saturday, as Minnesota shocked Northwestern. Boo Buie put up 20 points and seven assists, but it wasn’t enough. Dawson Garcia finished with 20 points as the Gophers scored the upset.
Minnesota improved to 14-7 overall and 5-5 in Big Ten play with the win. The win by itself isn’t enough to get the Gophers into serious NCAA Tournament consideration, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction and will build some serious momentum going into a vital stretch of the season. If Minnesota can play like it did on Saturday, it’s going to be a hard team to beat down the stretch.
On the other side, Northwestern fell to 15-7 overall and 6-5 in Big Ten play. It derailed what had been a promising few weeks for the Wildcats. It’s easily the team’s worst loss of Big Ten play so far and could very well serve as a dark mark on its resume. The key will be bouncing back against a far more manageable upcoming slate.
The Gophers will return to action on Tuesday at home against Michigan State. It’s another huge opportunity for Minnesota. Northwestern will try and bounce back against Nebraska at home on Wednesday.
-Michigan State Spartans 63, Maryland Terrapins 54
The Spartans scored a comfortable win in this one, thanks to 38 combined points for Malik Hall and Tyson Walker. Maryland’s defense did a solid job and held Michigan State to 1.02 points per possession, but the Terps couldn’t get enough scoring to grab the win.
Michigan State improved to 14-8 overall and 6-5 in Big Ten play with the win while Maryland fell to 13-9 overall and 5-6 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Spartans will try and keep things rolling against Minnesota on the road on Tuesday. Maryland will return to action against Rutgers at home on Tuesday.
-Penn State Nittany Lions 85, Indiana Hoosiers 71
This was one of the more shocking results of the day. The Hoosiers entered the day as solid favorites and pulled out to an early lead. However, things fell apart after that and Penn State absolutely torched Indiana’s defense to 1.37 points per possession. Ace Baldwin was the key pieces and finished with 22 points and eight assists in the upset win.
Penn State improved to 11-11 overall and 5-6 in Big Ten play with the win while Indiana fell to 13-9 overall and 5-6 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Nittany Lions will hope to move above .500 against Iowa at home on Thursday. Indiana will now prepare for Ohio State on the road on Tuesday.
-Rutgers Scarlet Knights 69, Michigan Wolverines 59
The Indiana loss above would have been the most shocking result of the day, had things went according to plan in Ann Arbor in the late afternoon. However, Rutgers had other thoughts, overcoming a 15-point deficit in the second half to win by 10 at the final buzzer. It was an absolutely shocking turn of events. Derek Simpson led the way with 19 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Clifford Omoruyi also had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
For Rutgers, it’s hard to understate the significance of this one. Coming back from a deficit like that does wonders for a team’s emotional well being. The Scarlet Knights will leave Michigan with confidence and resolve. The team now sits at 11-10 overall and 3-7 in Big Ten play as it prepares for Maryland on the road on Tuesday.
On the other side, Michigan fell to 7-15 overall and 2-9 in Big Ten play with the loss. It’s arguably the lowest point in a season that’s already had plenty of lows. Fans and the administration need to be focusing on what comes after the season, since this year is so clearly lost. The Wolverines will hope to bounce back at home against Wisconsin on Wednesday.