In more important basketball news, CJ and I’s men’s league game got snowed out tonight. However, my title here isn’t “Montclair men’s league writer,” it’s Big Ten writer. Let’s dive into what went on this weekend.

#19 Illinois 80, #7 Iowa 75

I said it coming in, I think these are the two best teams in the conference. When you’re filling out your brackets in a few weeks (God willing, considering we didn’t get that chance last year), Illinois & Iowa both deserve your Final Four consideration. Ayo Dosunmu showed why he’s revered as one of the best players in the Big Ten, scoring a game-high 25 points. Kofi Cockburn was held to just nine points, but Trent Frazier picked up the slack. The senior guard chipped in 24 points to put the Illini over the top. He also had this insane shot at the end of the first half:

Reminds me of a young me.

Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp each had 19 for the Hawkeyes, but it wasn’t enough. Considering both teams’ three point shooting prowess, I thought the over was an absolute lock for this game. I was wrong, as I often am. Ideally would’ve needed more than 6 free throw attempts for Iowa for that to happen. Regardless, these two teams gave us a great game on Friday. Plenty of reason to believe they’ll both be contenders in March.

Penn State 81, #14 Wisconsin 71

This was the shocker of the weekend. Sure, Penn State was coming off a close loss at Ohio State after beating slumping Rutgers & Northwestern teams. But I didn’t see them beating Wisconsin. Is that just the biased, Penn State-hating Rutgers grad in me thinking? Probably a little. But consider me on board, Penn State has put the Big Ten on notice. They started slow, but they’re here to play now.

The win was even more impressive considering the Nittany Lions only got 2 points from Seth Lundy. Myreon Jones carried the load with a game-high 20.

Luckily for Wisconsin, they get an immediate chance at revenge. They host Penn State tonight at 8:30 PM on BTN.

Purdue 81, #21 Minnesota 62

Brandon Newman did not start the second half for Purdue because he was playing poorly. How did he respond? By scoring 21 of his career-high 29 in the second half, helping the Boilermakers erase a 14-point deficit to win. Trevion Williams added a strong 17 point, 14 rebound performance for Purdue. Next up for the Boilermakers, a trip to College Park for a game with Maryland tonight.

Marcus Carr was held to just 6 points for Minnesota. Liam Robbins led the Golden Gophers with 15. They are now 0-5 on the road this season. They’ll look to get their first road win in Piscataway Thursday against Rutgers.

#13 Ohio State 79, Michigan State 62

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: EJ Liddell led Ohio State to victory. The sophomore forward had 20 points and 8 rebounds to propel the Buckeyes. They’ve now won three in a row, and six of seven.

Michigan State is still feeling the effects of a 20-day layoff prior to the Rutgers game due to Covid issues. Joshua Langford led Michigan State with 14 points.

Both teams will visit Iowa this week, with the Spartans playing tonight and the Buckeyes on Thursday.

Rutgers 64, Northwestern 56

Rutgers won their third straight after dropping five in a row. Northwestern lost a brutal eighth straight game.

The Scarlet Knights were up big early, 31-11. Northwestern clawed their way back in however, and it was a 34-29 game at the half. The Wildcats wouldn’t be able to fight all the way back though. Jacob Young’s game-high 19 led the way for Rutgers. Miller Kopp’s 15 paced Northwestern.

It can’t be understated how much of an impact Caleb McConnell has made for Rutgers. The junior was supposed to miss the year with an injury, but opted to return since this year wouldn’t cost him any eligibility. He gave the Scarlet Knights necessary depth, as well as an extra boost since being added to the starting lineup.

Rutgers has Minnesota at home Thursday, while Northwestern will look to snap their losing streak at Purdue Saturday.

What’s ahead?

Here’s the full slate of games this week:

Then I’ll hit you guys with the next weekend preview on Friday, you know the deal by now. Eat your vegetables, do your homework, whatever you need to get done and enjoy some college basketball. March is fast approaching, the time to immerse yourself is now.

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