Around the Big Ten: College Basketball
A lot of action from the past week in the Big Ten has built anticipation for what’s set to come in the next few weeks.
The Big Ten Tournament is on the horizon and will be held from March 8-12 in Chicago, Illinois.
Starting with Thursday, there was a trio of matchups that gave us a serious preview of the conference tournament.
Big Ten teams have completed the full circle of beating up on each other and that’s been the mantra for the whole season.
Illinois needed double overtime to take down the Michigan Wolverines, 91-87, in a masterful 24-point performance from senior guard Matthew Mayer.
The woeful Minnesota Golden Gophers played spoiler and took down Rutgers at home, 75-74.
It wasn’t a pretty follow-up performance following the Scarlet Knights’ 19-point comeback Sunday at Penn State.
Rounding out Thursday’s action, No. 5 Purdue narrowly escaped the Wisconsin Badgers in a thrilling 63-61 road victory. The Boilermakers utilized Zach Edey’s double-figure performance to avoid dropping two in a row.
Penn State’s response to that harrowing loss on Sunday was exactly what the Nittany Lions needed to keep their tournament hopes alive.
It took overtime and a lot of drama, but Penn State bounced back in a huge 68-65 win on the road against Northwestern.
After a life-saving rebound from Evan Mahaffey, the ball was swung out to Andrew Funk who kicked it to Cam Wynter in the corner, setting Wynter up for a wide-open three to put Penn State ahead with half of a second remaining.
After cracking the top-25, the No. 21 Maryland Terrapins suffered a massive blow in the loss to Ohio State in Columbus, 73-62.
The Buckeyes had previously dropped nine of their last 10 before that matchup, and a loss this late in the season could only hurt the morale of Maryland heading into a pivotal part of the season.
Even though it hasn’t been an ideal season for Ohio State, it’s never too late to play spoiler and ruin the seasons of conference foes.
Before beating Maryland, the Buckeyes faced a strong Illinois squad on Sunday en route to a 72-60 victory.
Michigan State’s tournament hopes are also very much alive, with the Spartans grabbing a 13-point victory on the road at Nebraska. Tom Izzo is no stranger to March, and if Michigan State could continue to heat up, a deep tournament run is imminent.
A matchup that raised a lot of eyebrows, however, was Iowa’s 22-point road victory against No. 15 Indiana.
The Hawkeyes are a sneaky team who are starting to heat up themselves, starting with a 112-106 overtime victory against Michigan State last week.
Junior forward Kris Murray is second in the conference in scoring behind Zach Edey, with 20.5 points per game and added to that with a 26-point performance in Bloomington.
Iowa still has a lot to play for and is currently aiming for a top-four finish in the Big Ten, which could also secure a double-bye in the conference tournament.
With the Big Ten Tournament just a few days away from tipping off, major seeds are at stake as we approach the last weekend of the regular-season.
Michigan State hosts Ohio State this Saturday, with a huge opportunity to boast its tournament chances while the Buckeyes continue their spoiler run.
Six huge matchups loom on Sunday, starting with Penn State hosting No. 21 Maryland at noon. A win would propel the Nittany Lions’ chances drastically at making the tournament.
Illinois visits No. 5 Purdue, Nebraska travels to Iowa, and Michigan will travel to No. 15 Indiana.
Rounding out the action on Sunday, Wisconsin’s tournament hopes will go down against Minnesota, and Rutgers hosts Northwestern.
All of these have tournament and seeding ramifications, and with one final push, there will be at least another spurt of drama in the Big Ten.
Connor Fenix is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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