The second round of the 2015 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament took place on Thursday, with four games on the slate. Among the teams in action today were the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who won their first round game on Wednesday. Two NCAA Tournament “bubble” teams also played on Thursday, as the Illinois Fighting Illini and the Indiana Hoosiers are fighting for an automatic bid into the big dance. Let’s recap today’s B1G action in Chicago.
MICHIGAN ROLLS OVER ILLINOIS
Many believed that Illinois needed at least two wins (or one, depending on who you ask) to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The 9-seed Illini drew a tough matchup against the 8-seed Michigan Wolverines. In a game Illinois needed to woo the selection committee, they hurt their chances in the worst possible fashion, losing to Michigan by a score of 73-55.
Illinois came out of the gate cold to start the game, going down 14-2 early against the Wolverines. They would eventually tie it up and take the lead at point point. A 23-4 run for Michigan to close out the first half would set the tone for the remainder of the game. Illinois’ deficit got no lower than 18 in the second half.
Four of the starting five for Michigan scored in double-figures, including a team- and game-high from guard Aubrey Dawkins with 18 points. The Michigan defense stepped up and kept the Fighting Illini in check all game, allowing them to shoot only 37.3% from the field, and convert on only 1 of 13 3-point attempts.
Illinois now has to sit and wait to see if their name is called into the field of 68 on Selection Sunday (6:00 PM ET on CBS). For Michigan, a chance at the NIT is still alive. Unless of course, they shock the college basketball world and win the Big Ten Tournament.
PENN STATE UPSETS IOWA
The Iowa Hawkeyes were coming in as one of the conference’s hottest teams to end the regular season, having won six straight. Penn State is coming off a first round victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Nittany Lions were resilient all year long despite their 4-14 record in conference play, and that would continue on Thursday afternoon.
After taking the lead halfway through the second half, Penn State would never look back and eventually hold off a late push from the Hawkeyes, upsetting 5-seed Iowa by a score of 67-58. Good defense and senior leadership, led by point guard D.J. Newbill, would be the difference in this game.
Newbill lead his team in scoring with 18 points, shooting 50% from the field. He has been one of the more underrated players in the entire conference and a snub for the all-conference 1st team.
Iowa’s latest hot shooting would come to a screeching halt. The Hawkeyes only shot 26.3% from the field in the game and 20% from beyond the arc.
Iowa is firmly in the field of 68 after finishing strong the finish the regular season. As for Penn State, like Michigan, they continue to build their case for an NIT bid.
HOOSIERS KEEP TOURNEY HOPES ALIVE
Indiana had a golden opportunity going into their game to help solidify their chances of getting into the NCAA Tournament. With other bubble teams losing important games on Thursday, the Hoosiers could make a statement for the selection committee. They did not disappoint, beating the Northwestern Wildcats, 71-56.
Indiana got big contributions from their most important guys. Junior and 1st team all-Big Ten guard Yogi Ferrell had 17 points and 5 assists against the ‘Cats. IU freshman guard James Blackmon Jr. was the player of the game, leading all scorers with 25 points and 7 assists, including 5-10 from 3-point range.
The young and inexperienced Wildcats were no match for a speedy and free-shooting Indiana team that was hungry for a win. They were down for double-digits for majority of the game.Freshman Bryant McIntosh led Northwestern in scoring with 13 points.
Northwestern’s season comes to close after that defeat. More importantly for Indiana, they win and advance to the B1G quarterfinals to face the 2-seed Maryland Terrapins, who many believe the Hoosiers also need to defeat in order to firmly secure an automatic bid in the big dance.
BUCKEYES PULL AWAY LATE FROM GOPHERS
Survive and advance. Around this time of the year for a lot of teams, that is a method of winning games and more than acceptable in order to succeed. That is what the Ohio State Buckeyes had to do in the nightcap of the B1G Tournament against Minnesota, as they escape late, 79-73
The Buckeyes fought off the Golden Gophers for the entire 40-minutes of this second round game. Freshman star D’Angelo Russell continued his outstanding season for Ohio State, leading the team and all scorers in the game with 23 points. Russell’s back court mate, senior guard Shannon Scott, chipped in with 21 points. Head coach Thad Matta earned his 400th career victory and 298th with the Buckeyes. He now stands as the program’s all-time winningest basketball coach.
Tough game to swallow for the Golden Gophers and head coach Richard Pitino. They hung with the Buckeyes for the entire game, but were down for much of the second half. They got to within 3 points with a little over five minutes remaining in the contest, but were unsuccessful in overcoming the deficit. After going scoreless in the team’s first round game, senior guard Andre Hollins scored a team-high 13 points.
Ohio State advances to the quarterfinals of the B1G Tournament to play the 3-seed Michigan State Spartans. Minnesota more than likely played their final game of the season, but have an outside chance of making the NIT.
LOOK AHEAD TO FRIDAY’S ACTION
The quarterfinals of the B1G Tournament in Chicago start on Friday, with the top four teams in the conference playing for the first time this week.
- (9) Michigan VS (1) Wisconsin, 12:00 P.M. on ESPN
- (13) Penn State VS (4) Purdue, 2:30 P.M. on ESPN
- (7) Indiana VS (2) Maryland, 6:30 P.M. on Big Ten Network
- (6) Ohio State VS (3) Michigan State, 9:00 P.M. on Big Ten Network