Day two of the B1G Tourney should feature some exciting matchups in both the upper and lower half of the bracket along with long lines at the concessions stands and another day of tweets complaining about the officiating from each fanbase. Let’s get into a preview for Day 2 for the lower half of the bracket!
Thursday, March 9th
Game 5: #10 Penn State Nitanny Lions vs. #7 Illinois Fighting Illini
Well, I gave my preview for this game in a previous article so I’ll put it here for you all again:
Penn State enters the B1G Tourney likely needing at least one win to secure themselves a bid into the NCAA Tourney and they get another chance to grab a victory over the Illini. They have already beaten the Illini twice this season and I think this is a case of a bad matchup for Illinois. Jalen Pickett has shown he is an absolute problem to defend for the entire year as he is likely to be a First Team All Conference selection and could be considered as an All American candidate averaging 18 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 7 assists per game. Penn State can shoot absolutely lights out at times against teams that just don’t defend the arc very well and well, that defines Illinois pretty well.
Illinois, on paper, looks like they should be an absolute monster of a team to try and matchup against. Really good length on the perimeter at all positions but the injury to point guard Jayden Epps and the inability to trust other young guards puts them in a bad positions from a ball handling standpoint. That was apparent at times in Illinois’ final regular season game against Purdue in the first half but the showed why they can be dangerous when they erased a 24 point second half deficit to tie the game. Terrance Shannon and Matt Mayer form a really great duo but the streaky Illini just can’t seem to always get out of their own way. They aren’t a bad defensive team but they often shoot themselves out of games because they shoot the 2nd most threes in the conference but their percentage is dead last at just 29.1% on the season.
Overall, I think this is just a bad matchups for the Illini and I I like the Fighting Shrewsberries in this one to sweep the season series 3-0.
Penn State: 75
Game 6: #14 Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. #6 Maryland Terrapins
In the two games that the Gophers and the Terrapins played, Maryland beat the Gophers by a total of 53 points (18 and 35, respectively). Minnesota, who seemed to be listless throughout most of the season, seems to have found a bit of intensity in their play when it is a lose and go home situation. Minnesota was able to shoot 41.7% from behind the arc but the 18 turnovers aren’t good enough to defeat a team like Maryland who is a vastly better team overall. In fact, Minnesota only had 7 games with single digit turnovers and shot just 31% from behind the arc so they played much better than what they showed overall throughout the season. Can we expect that again against Maryland? I don’t think so.
Maryland enjoys having one of the more dynamic guards in the conference in Jahmir Young who is averaging 16.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.2 steals per game, however it is the other players that can make Maryland a really tough matchup for anyone in the country. Hakim Hart, Julian Reese, and Donta Scott all average in double figures and have shown an ability to score when Young isn’t getting the points he usually gets. In the end, Minnesota just doesn’t have the number of players to really shut down Maryland just a day after playing a tough game. Unless Maryland just falls flat on their face, this shouldn’t be much of a contest as the late game tonight.