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Monday’s Things to Know: Michigan State knocks off Iowa; Wisconsin rallies to win

Iowa v Michigan State

EAST LANSING, MI - DECEMBER 03: Joshua Langford #1 of the Michigan State Spartans drives past Joe Wieskamp #10 of the Iowa Hawkeyes in the first half at Breslin Center on December 3, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

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Monday night’s college basketball action didn’t have a ton of enticing options. But the Big Ten continued its early conference play while some ranked teams also battled unranked opponents in plenty of buy games.

1. No. 10 Michigan State blows out No. 18 Iowa

The only matchup between ranked opponents on Monday featured this Big Ten matchup in East Lansing. Despite the Spartans facing some recent question marks, and Iowa looking like a really solid team with some early wins over Oregon and UConn, this game wasn’t particularly close as Michigan State earned the blowout win.

The interior play for the Spartans was a huge plus as Nick Ward, Kenny Goins and Xavier Tillman all came close to getting double-doubles. I have three takeaways on this one here.

2. No. 12 Wisconsin rallies to knock off Rutgers

Big Ten play also continued on Monday as the Badgers hosted a game in Madison. The Scarlet Knights held the halftime lead in this one before Ethan Happ and Wisconsin pulled away in the second half of a 69-64 win.

Happ had 20 points, four rebounds and three assists as the Badgers had to grind out the conference win. D’Mitrik Trice chipped in 14 points, as he added a dagger jumper with under a minute left to help seal the win.

While Wisconsin is supposed to win these home games against Big Ten bottom feeders, it was good positive to see the Badgers handle some adversity early in the season. Last season, there’s a chance Wisconsin would have folded in that situation. But they’re a year older and more experienced to close out tight conference games.

Rutgers is better than last year, but they’re still a team any reasonable Big Ten contender needs to take care of at home to stay in the league title race.

3. Pitt gets upset by Niagara

With not many games going on, it meant there weren’t a lot of notable results on Monday. So Pitt losing at home to Niagara is something to make light of.

Nobody is expecting the young Panthers and first-year head coach Jeff Capel to make any kind of significant noise in the ACC this season. But losing a Niagara team playing without leading scorer and rebounder Marvin Prochet is not great. The Purple Eagles were 2-4 on the season entering this game as they weren’t expected to be a major contender in the MAAC.

Rough stretches were expected for a Pitt team playing a lot of freshmen and newcomers. But now they’ll need to figure things out quickly before heading to West Virginia for a road game next.