Thursday in New York was interesting. All four games were pretty close, as they were all decided by single digits. Here is your quick and dirty recap:
Wisconsin 59, Maryland 54
Maryland still had a small chance at an at large bid, but it was lost the Terrapins turned it over with five seconds left down 3. They currently sit at 69 in the RPI, which means Purdue’s win in College Park still falls into Tier 1, but just barely. Will the inevitable shifting in the next week bump them from the top 75? We’ll see.
As for Wisconsin, I am gonna be a little pissed if they beat Michigan state today when a win 5 days ago would have been a lot more useful to us. The No. 1 seed has lost its first game in the B1G tournament two years in a row, and Wisconsin is coming together.
Michigan 77, Iowa 71 (OT)
This was another important result as a Michigan loss would have dropped the Wolverines below the 30 line, thus making our home win over them tier 2 instead of tier 1. It was already bad enough that the Maryland road win is in peril and Louisville did their choking. Jordan Bohannon sent the game to overtime and the Hawkeyes had a shot when Mo Wagner and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman both fouled out, but they only managed four points in overtime.
If the Big Ten is going to get five teams in the only bubble team with any hope left is Nebraska. The Cornhuskers would normally be a lock with a 13-5 league record, but it is a testament to how bad the rest of the league was that they are not. Michigan-Nebraska today is probably the game of the day.
Penn State 65, Northwestern 57
The Wildcats kept up the trend of being absolutely atrocious offensively in the closing minutes. This game was tied 52-52 with 4:56 left, but Tony Carr and Josh Reaves combined on three straight threes to put Northwestern away. The Wildcats made only two field goals in the last 10 minutes and scored only 9 points in that stretch.
Penn State presents an interesting at large case. KenPom loves them at No. 32. The RPI has them at 81, which is too low for an at large right now. They are 2-7 in tier 1 games, and lost three straight (at Purdue, Michigan, at Nebraska) such games to close the year. They are 2-0 against Ohio State and seem to have a hex on them. Any at large chances hinge on winning today, and they still probably need to beat Purdue tomorrow to have any shot. A win today gives them three tier 1 wins, but all three would be against Ohio State. Beating Rutgers would do nothing. From there, if you’re going to make the tournament final you might as well win it and erase all doubt.
Rutgers 76, Indiana 69
Sure, their offense was entirely “Let Corey Sanders do everything”, but it worked. At one point IU led 24-8 and it looked like they would win in a walk, but then they forgot how to play basketball. The Scarlet Knights now have more wins in the Big ten Tournament (3) than Indiana does (1) since they joined the conference. In that time they have beent he 14 seed each time and Indiana has had a No. 1 seed.
Rutgers is playing with house money now. At 15-18 even the NIT is out. They need the autobid or the season is done. Unfortunately, they are playing their third game in three days and Purdue has been resting. We have seen teams make it from Wednesday to Friday since the tournament expanded to 14 teams, but none of those have made it to the semifinals. Here is how they have fared:
2015 Penn State – Beat Nebraska and Iowa as the 13 seed, but lost to Purdue 64-59 where they ran out of gas late.
2016 Nebraska – As the 11 seed they beat Rutgers by 17 and Wisconsin by 12, but Maryland pulled away late to beat them 97-86.
2016 Illinois - The 12 seeded Illini beat Minnesota and Iowa before Purdue absolutely blasted them 89-58.
They are already a team that struggles to shoot. Will tired legs be an issue tonight? We’ll see.
1 Seed Michigan State vs. 9 Seed Wisconsin - Noon – BTN
These two played just 5 days ago and Wisconsin made it close. The Badgers are playing like a team that could sneak in and steal this whole thing with Brad Davison hitting everything in sight. A win today means they can dream of the autobid and keeping their 19 year NCAA streak alive.
4 Seed Nebraska vs. 5 Seed Michigan - 2:30pm – BTN
This is the game of the day. Nebraska needs this win to get into the NCAAs. Michigan still has a shot at a top 4 seed. They would love to get high enough to play nearby in Detroit. It should be a very good one.
2 Seed Ohio State vs. 7 seed Penn State - 6:30pm – BTN
It’s round 3 and Penn State was dominant in Columbus before fading, then winning on Tony Carr’s buzzer beater. They were dominant in State College, too. Much like Purdue last year against Michigan, this is a bad matchup for the Buckeyes.
3 Seed Purdue vs. 14 Seed Rutgers - 9pm – BTN
As fun as a second game against Indiana would have been, them getting Rutger’d is hilarious, especially after holding an early 16 point lead. Purdue still needs four wins for the first 30 win season in school history and it has a very good shot at getting one of them tonight. Rutgers has been solid in this tournament, but fatigue will likely be a factor tonight. Purdue is fresh. Rutgers is not.