By Michael Hemmerle
Sports Capital Journalism Program
INDIANAPOLIS — The Iowa Hawkeyes put on a show in the most one-sided game in the 24-year history of the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament, beating Northwestern, 112-76, in a game that set multiple records.
The fifth-seeded Hawkeyes (23-9) advanced to a quarterfinal game against No. 4 Rutgers Friday afternoon at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. The teams met once this season, with the Hawkeyes losing to the Scarlet Knights, 48-46, at Rutgers on January 19.
“We all felt it’s a game we should have won at their place,” said sophomore forward Keegan Murray, who scored 26 points in 21 minutes on 11-of-16 shooting. “I feel like for us we wanted this game, and we got it now.”
The 36-point victory surpassed the previous record of 33 set by Illinois against Minnesota in 2016. Iowa’s point total blew past the record of 97 set by Maryland against Nebraska in 2016.
The total of 19 3-point field goals was five more than the record that Illinois had reached twice, against Minnesota in 2016 and Iowa in 2018. The total was one less than the all-time Big Ten record set three times, most recently earlier this season by Iowa against Alabama State.
Northwestern (15-16) had come into the game with confidence after erasing a 15-point deficit to win a roller coaster first-round matchup against Nebraska Wednesday night.
Northwestern’s comeback win against the Cornhuskers showed toughness and grit. The start of their matchup against Iowa was rough from the tip. Iowa raced to an early 15-4 lead, causing Northwestern coach Chris Collins to use his first timeout with 15:55 left in the first half.
Northwestern looked uncomfortable, as Iowa’s defense disrupted the Wildcat offense. Keegan scored 10 points with five rebounds before the first ten minutes of the game had transpired.
Iowa shot 67.5% from the field, 75% from the free throw line, with 20 rebounds, 15 assists, and six turnovers by halftime. The second half was a similar script. Iowa opened a 40-point lead with 14:16 to play.
“We can’t play much better than we did tonight,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. “Everything was clicking, our offense was really good. I thought early on, our rebounding, especially on the offensive glass, was crucial.”