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B1G Tournament Day 3: Spartans advance; Top four seeds to semis

It was quarterfinals action in Chicago at the B1G Tournament on Friday. The top four seeds in the conference got their first taste of postseason play. There were plenty of big story lines on Friday too with all eight remaining teams in the conference tournament, so let’s recap today’s action.

WISCONSIN KEEPS #1-SEED HOPES ALIVE

The B1G regular season champion and potential 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament Wisconsin Badgers took the court for the first time in Chicago, facing a Michigan Wolverines team poised for an upset. Michigan matched up on paper fairly well with the Badgers, due to their small, speedy, free-shooting style of play. The game went back and forth, and was tied with five minutes to go in regulation. Then, Wisconsin put their foot on the gas and pulled away late.

The 71-60 victory for the Badgers was a bit skewed. They went on a 17-6 run to close out the game, including 8 for 10 from the free throw line. Badgers senior forward and star Frank Kaminsky recorded his eleventh double-double of the season, scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Kaminsky’s front court partner, junior Sam Dekker scored a team-high 17 points, and also had 6 rebounds and 6 assists.

The very young Michigan squad and head coach John Beilein hung around with the Badgers for much of the game on Friday. Sophomore guard Zak Irvin had a game-high 21 points and also ripped down 11 rebounds. He and junior guard Spike Albrecht played the full 40 minutes for the Wolverines. He had 10 points today, the only other starter in double-digits for Michigan. Freshman forward Ricky Doyle showed great signs of development, scoring 12 points in 18 minutes off the bench.

Wisconsin moves on to the B1G Tournament semifinals and continue their pursuit of a 1-seed. As for Michigan, their season will very likely come to a close following the loss.


 

PURDUE ENDS PENN STATE’S CINDERELLA RUN

The 13-seed Penn State Nittany Lions were the big surprise of the weekend so far, winning their first two games of the conference tournament, including an upset of the Iowa Hawkeyes on Thursday. The Purdue Boilermakers would have none of that on Friday in a big quarterfinal match-up for both teams. Purdue’s stingy defense and timely rebounding late helped them push by Penn State, 64-59.

A 20+ win season, 12-6 conference record, and double-bye in the conference team would almost always be an automatic bid into the big dance…..almost. Despite Purdue’s great season, they were in bubble territory by some experts. A loss to the Nittany Lions would put them in the danger zone. Purdue went on a 20-9 run over the final 9:10 of the game. Junior center and 7-footer A.J. Hammons had 23 points and 9 rebounds, and went 9-11 from the charity stripe.

For Penn State, their season and the career of senior star D.J. Newbill would come to close against the Boilermakers. Newbill had a team-high 19 points. Fellow senior and forward Ross Travis was the only other player in double-figures for Penn State, scoring 10 points.

Purdue survives and advances to the B1G semifinals to face Wisconsin on Saturday. Penn State and head coach Patrick Chambers look to continue their rebuilding going into next season.


 MARYLAND WINS, INDIANA WAITS

In arguably the biggest game on the B1G slate on Friday, the Indiana Hoosiers and Maryland Terrapins squared off in a rubber match to not only decide who wins the season series, but moves on to the conference semifinals. Indiana came out of the gate strong, but once they fell behind with fourteen minutes to go in the game, they found themselves playing catch-up all game long. The Terps kept Indiana’s 3-point attack in check, winning by a score of 75-69.

Maryland got contributions from their guys who have led them all season long to a remarkable first year in the Big Ten. Senior guard Dez Wells led all scorers in the game with 22 points, proving to be a match-up nightmare for the Hoosiers. Freshman standout Melo Trimble recorded 17 points in the score book tonight, as he continued to show what a bright future he has for Maryland.

Like the Terrapins, Indiana had their main guys step up when it mattered most. They gave it their all tonight, in a game that most felt they needed to win in order to firmly secure a tournament birth. Junior guard Yogi Ferrell scored 18 points, the highest total for the Hoosiers. Sophomore forward Troy Williams continued his impressive season, nearly getting a double-double with 17 points and 9 boards.

Maryland becomes the third team to advance to the B1G semifinals. All Indiana can do now is sit and wait, hoping their name gets called to the field of 68 on Sunday (6:00 P.M. on CBS).


 SPARTANS DOWN BUCKEYES

Michigan State Spartans guard/forward Denzel Valentine hit a clutch go-ahead 3-pointer in the waning seconds against the Ohio State Buckeyes in East Lansing, on Valentine’s Day no less. The two perennial powers met in the quarterfinals on Friday. The result however would not change. The Spartans took the early lead a minute and a half into the game and would never look back, en route to a 76-67 victory.

Valentine was once again the hero for Michigan State. He had 23 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. The seniors stepped up again as well. Guard Travis Trice and forward Branden Dawson combined for 32 points and 10 assists. Michigan State assisted 23 times on 29 field goals in the game, a staple of the Spartans under head coach Tom Izzo.

Ohio State struggled for most of the game, particularly freshman sensation D’Angelo Russell. He had 19 points in the game to lead his Buckeyes, but was rather frustrated from the way Spartans handled him defensively. Buckeye seniors Sam Thompson and Shannon Scott each had 13 points in the contest. Ohio State turned the ball over 12 times, in what head coach Thad Matta called “the most physical game he’s ever coached.”

Michigan State earned themselves the final spot in Saturday’s semifinals. Ohio State will make the big dance, but their seed is entirely up in the air.


 

SATURDAY’S SEMIFINALS SCHEDULE

The top 4 seeds played for the first time in the B1G Tournament on Friday, and all four will be advancing. Here is Saturday’s schedule:

  • Game 1 – (1)Wisconsin vs (4) Purdue, 1:00 P.M. on CBS
  • Game 2 – (2) Maryland vs (3) Michigan State, 3:30 P.M. on CBS

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