Ladies and gentlemen, happy Friday. We’ve made it to the weekend. Instead of thinking about the worst work day of the year on Monday and how hungover you’ll be, relax. You’re about to immerse yourself in three days of beautiful sports. Drink it in.
#7 Ohio State had another impressive win over #8 Iowa on the road, 89-85. E.J. Liddell, Kyle Young, and Duane Washigton each had 16 to lead the Buckeyes. Justin Ahrens also drilled a trio of key three-pointers down the stretch for Ohio State. I said in my last blog that Iowa and Illinois are still my top teams in the conference, but OSU has established themselves as a real threat. They’ve won four in a row and seven of their last eight, knocking off both Iowa and Illinois in the process. They also became the first squad to beat five ranked teams.
There was a hilarious announcer’s jinx when C.J. Walker stepped to the line in the second half. ESPN flashed the graphic that Walker was shooting 98% from the line this season, and before Dan Shulman could even comment on it, he missed the first free throw. Happens every time.
My Rutgers Scarlet Knights also gave me a heart attack en route to beating Minnesota 76-72 at the RAC. Geo Baker led the way with 16, while Myles Johnson posted another double-double with 14 & 12. It wasn’t the cleanest game for Rutgers, and Liam Robbins’ prayer of a three was good to give the Golden Gophers a 68-66 lead late. But Caleb McConnell hit a huge three, and Baker hit the shot that ultimately put Rutgers in the lead for good.
The win was Rutgers’ fourth in a row, while Minnesota falls to 0-6 on the road this season.
Now, onto this weekend’s slate.
Maryland @ Penn State, Friday 7 PM, FS1
Maryland comes off a one-point victory over #24 Purdue on Tuesday, whereas Penn State lost to #19 Wisconsin 72-56. Can Penn State please just let me know if they’re good or not? I can’t get a read on them. This should be a fun one tonight.
#19 Wisconsin @ #12 Illinois, Saturday 2:30 PM, FOX
This is the game of the weekend in my eyes. Both teams are coming off wins on Tuesday, with Wisconsin beating Penn State and Illinois squeaking out a victory over Indiana. A battle of two teams jockeying for position in both the Big Ten and in March. We could be watching a preview of one of the later rounds of the Big Ten tournament.
Northwestern @ #24 Purdue, Saturday 4:30 PM, BTN
Purdue will be looking to avenge that tough loss at the hands of Maryland on Tuesday. Northwestern has dropped eight straight, surely they can’t lose a ninth… right? In all seriousness, the Wildcats are too good to keep losing. They’ll get one eventually. I’m just not sure whether it’ll be on the road against a hungry Boilermakers team.
Nebraska @ Michigan State, 6:30 PM, BTN
Do you really care? I care the minimum amount. Maybe if you start drinking early and bet on this game it’ll be fun. Heck, it’s still Big Ten basketball. If you were talking to me in the middle of April when sports were gone, I would’ve paid top dollar to see these two teams duke it out. It’s just getting lost in the shuffle a bit on Super Bowl weekend. Bottom line, these may be the bottom two teams in the conference, but Big Ten basketball is like pizza. Even when it’s bad, it’s good.
#8 Iowa @ Indiana, Noon, FOX
Nice little game here to round out the weekend slate & get your Super Bowl Sunday off on the right foot. Luka Garza & company will be looking to bounce back from their loss to Ohio State tonight, while Indiana attempts to snap a two-game skid.
Enjoy the basketball everyone, and as always, tweet us @tfrontoffice or me @ncostanzo24 to tell me how much I suck.