The second round of the Big Ten Tournament gave us four intensely competitive games and kept NCAA Tournament hopes alive for a couple of bubble teams.
The first round of the Big Ten Tournament yielded a couple of clunkers. No. 12 Illinois crushed No. 13 Minnesota and No. 11 Nebraska cruised to a win over No. 14 Rutgers, but the second round provided an incredible day of basketball.
The afternoon stated off with a bang when No. 8 Michigan and No. 9 Northwestern needed overtime to decide the opening matchup. The Wolverines ultimately prevailed 72-70 and advance to do battle with Indiana on Friday.
The victory will allow Michigan to breathe easily for a night, but they still look to be on the wrong side of the bubble in terms of potential NCAA Tournament selection. A win over top-seeded Indiana should be enough to secure the Wolverines a spot in the field of 68.
The second game was every bit as entertaining as the first. No. 12 Illinois held a slim two-point lead over No. 4 Iowa at the half but was able to extend that to double-digits in the second half. The Illini led by 11 with 3:30 to play in the game, but Iowa rallied to tie the game at 66-66 just two minutes later. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, Illinois would score the game’s final basket and pull out a 68-66 upset victory.
Illinois advances to face No. 4 Purdue on Friday. They (i.e. Illinois) have no shot at an at-large berth so their NCAA Tournament hopes rest on maintaining the magic and finding a way to win the Big Ten’s automatic bid.
Iowa remains safe as a lock to enter the NCAA Tournament field.
Not to be outdone by the first two games, No. 10 Penn State made their own upset bid against No. 7 Ohio State. The Nittany Lions jumped out to an early lead — as many as 10 in the first half — but the Buckeyes closed the gap to three by the break and quickly took their own lead in the second half. Penn State kept the game within reach, but ultimately couldn’t string together enough possessions to pull out the upset.
The Buckeyes advance to play No. 2 Michigan State on Friday evening needing to add a signature win to their resume to keep hopes of an at-large selection alive.
The night ended with yet another entertaining game as No. 11 Nebraska and No. 6 Wisconsin went down to the final few minutes. In the end it was the under seeded Cornhuskers who were able to salt away the win and free throw their way to a 70-58 victory.
Wisconsin’s position is safe as an entrant into the NCAA Tournament field. Nebraska will need to seek the automatic bid to get in.
Here’s a look at the Big Ten Tournament bracket as provided by Big Ten Network.
The quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament promises to be every bit as exciting as the second round with a pair of teams possibly playing do-or-die games in Michigan and Ohio State.