Outside of Purdue, the Big Ten had taken a beating in the first few weeks of the season.

At least after the first night of the B1G/ACC Challenge, the league has started to regain its reputation, with Iowa gaining a giant lead at Virginia, then hanging on to win by a point over the Cavaliers, and then Illinois pulling away from Notre Dame in Champaign.

The conferences will play 4 more games tonight, with the marquee matchups being No. 2 Purdue hosting Florida State and Ohio State hosting top-ranked Duke.

But before those games, here are 3 takeaways from the first day of the Challenge:

We were all wrong about Iowa

There was a reason why nobody was talking about Iowa in the preseason.

After all, the Hawkeyes had lost an overwhelming majority of their production, with the graduation of Big Ten Player of the Year Luka Garza, the early departure of Joe Wieskamp to the NBA and the transfers of Jack Nunge (to Xavier) and C.J. Fredrickson (to Kentucky). But Iowa had a lot more remaining than what it was given credit for, apparently.

Before its game at Virginia Monday night, Iowa had played a who’s who of nobodies the first 6 games of the season — apologies to Longwood fans — and so it was hard to declare the Hawkeyes were indeed a potential player in the Big Ten. But against the Cavaliers, Iowa looked the part, validating that its 7-0 start is no joke. Sophomore Keegan Murray, who showed only flashes while biding his time behind more experienced players last season, is a star, and showed Monday night he can carry Iowa in a hostile environment. And in his billion (or so) seasons in the Big Ten, Jordan Bohannon showed that his outside shot has aged well.

Perhaps the best part (or most surprising) was that Iowa won 75-74 by getting a stop in the final seconds. Frequently under Fran McCaffery, the Hawkeyes have had one of the Big Ten’s best offenses and one of its worst defenses. And maybe that’ll again be the case. But on Monday at least, Iowa ended the game on the defensive end and won.

Perhaps Iowa’s game at No 2 Purdue late Friday night has a bit more intrigue than previously anticipated.

Adversity might be exactly what Illini needed

Illinois got off to a disjointed start to the season.

Understandable, considering the NCAA ridiculously suspended All-America center Kofi Cockburn for the first 3 games of the season because he sold team-issued apparel — (Oh, the humanity!) — and the Fighting Illini were searching for a post-Ayo Dosunmu identity. But now that Cockburn is back, a bunch of others are out, for various different reasons. Sophomore point guard Andre Curbelo has missed a couple games in a row because of an illness, perhaps the lingering effects of a concussion, while Jacob Grandison (illness) has also been sidelined. Illinois did see the return of senior guard Trent Frasier Monday night against Notre Dame, after it had been reported earlier in the day that he was highly likely to miss his second consecutive game with a leg injury. 

But maybe all this adversity, including 6 different starting lineups in 7 games, can be a good thing, forcing the Fighting Illini to speed up their maturation process. There’s some evidence that might be true. Illinois lost by a point at Marquette, then got boat-raced vs. Cincinnati in Kansas City. But since then, while coach Brad Underwood deals with a roster that seems to change by the hour, the Fighting Illini have been able to piece together a 3-game winning streak.

Illinois was great vs. Notre Dame Monday night, blowing the doors off the Fighting Irish with an array of 3-pointers and Cockburn’s domination inside. Not only did the big, physical center score 28 points, but he dished out a career-high-tying 2 assists.

Can Indiana go on the road?

The Purdue-FSU and OSU-Duke matchups are going to get a lot of the attention on Tuesday night in the Challenge, but there are other games of intrigue.

That’s particularly so for Indiana, which is undefeated this season, but has only one victory worth mentioning: its win over St. Johns. The others? Frankly, who cares. Anyone excited about beating Marshall?

The Carrier Dome matchup Tuesday night will mark the Hoosiers’ first trip away from Assembly Hall — IU didn’t even play a neutral site Feast Week tournament — and so that will present challenges. Not that the Orange are great, at only 3-3 with wins over Lafayette, Drexel and Arizona State, but Jim Boeheim’s matchup zone defense will provide the Hoosiers will plenty to work out. The Orange will pack it in to slow down Trayce-Jackson Davis and make IU win from the outside. Can it?