The Big Ten had two monster matchups on Sunday. The biggest was Purdue’s road trip to face Wisconsin, but fans also got to see Illinois and Nebraska battle.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 2 Purdue Boilermakers 75, No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers 69
The hype around this one was pretty obvious well before tip. These two entered as the leaders in the conference standings and many thought Sunday’s matchup could determine who won the Big Ten title. Add in a fantastic crowd and it had all the makings of a regular season classic.
The game itself lived up to the hype as well. While it didn’t come down to the final seconds, it was a competitive game from tip and Purdue never pulled away enough to think it was over. Wisconsin did a decent job of slowing down superstar Zach Edey, though the big man still finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Tyler Wahl also showed out with 20 points and seven rebounds for the Badgers. However, Purdue’s offense was simply too efficient, as the Boilers finished with 1.14 points per possession in the 75-69 win.
Purdue improved to 21-2 overall and 10-2 in Big Ten play with the win, though it was the win’s implications for the Big Ten title race that will get most of the attention. By any objective measurement, Purdue is now a clear favorite to win the conference title. The team is now a game and a half up in the standings and has a pretty manageable final eight games. As long as Purdue avoids a major upset, it has a great shot or closing things out.
On the other side, Wisconsin fell to 16-6 overall and 8-3 in Big Ten play with the loss. It’s a game that will sting Badger fans for awhile. Not only because the matchup was so close, but also because Wisconsin likely won’t be able to overcome it down the stretch. Losing a title chance hurts and that’s probably what Sunday was for the Badgers.
Purdue returns to action on Saturday at home against Indiana. Wisconsin hopes to rebound on the road against Michigan on Wednesday..
-No. 14 Illinois Fighting Illini 87, Nebraska Cornhuskers 84 (OT)
This was an epic game, requiring an extra session to be decided. While Illinois controlled most of the game, Nebraska used a frantic effort in the closing minutes to close the gap and push things into overtime. Keisei Tominaga was a big part of that, finishing with 31 points in the effort. Unfortunately for Husker fans, Illinois regained its footing in overtime and scored an 87-84 win.
Illinois improved to 17-5 overall and 8-3 in Big Ten play with the win while Nebraska fell to 16-7 overall and 6-6 in Big Ten play. Illinois will try and build off this win next week with Michigan State on the road on Saturday. The Huskers will try and bounce back on the road against Northwestern on Wednesday.