College Spun/Antonio Venegas
Day 2 of Big Ten Tournament action here in Chicago was another entertaining affair. With the Top 4 teams all in action, there was sure to be high-powered drama at the United Center.
The first game of the day put the top seed in the tournament, the Indiana Hoosiers, against the Illinois Fighting Illini, who made it to Friday thanks to Brandon Paul’s heroics. On this day however, things would shake out just a little bit differently. Paul finished with 16 points, but only went 2-of-13 from the field. Led by First Team All Big Ten forward Cody Zeller, the Hoosiers looked solid throughout the day. To their credit, Illinois would not go away as Tracy Abrams had 16 points for the Illini. Zeller finished the day with 24 points and nine rebounds and National Player of the Year candidate Victor Oladipo finished with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds as the Hoosiers downed the Illini 80-64.
In the second game of the day, the Michigan Wolverines went up against the 4-seed Wisconsin Badgers. The first half, to put it kindly, was a physical battle in which points were at a premium. At the half, Michigan led Wisconsin by a score of 20-17. Wisconsin’s field goal percentage (17.2%) equaled their point total in the first half. That being said, Wisconsin came out firing in the second half as the Badgers went 6-of-9 from beyond the arc as the Badgers put up 51 points in the second half. Traevon Jackson had a career high 16 points and Ben Brust hit four three-pointers as the Badgers charged their way into the semifinals, defeating the Wolverines 68-59. Trey Burke led the way with 19 points as they look ahead to the NCAA Tournament going 6-6 in their last 12 games of the season.
The Badgers face Indiana at 12:40 p.m. CST tomorrow in the first semifinal.
In the second session of the day, the Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers by a score of 71-50. Sam Thompson, making a homecoming appearance in his native Chicago, put on a show with 19 points. Deshaun Thomas also had a solid 19 points to go along with nine rebounds. Thad Matta had to rip into his team a little bit early on as Nebraska rolled on to a 15-6 run to start the game. Ultimately, the Buckeyes went on a 22-8 run to go into the half with the lead and ultimately pull away in the second half. For more on this game, read the full game recap of the Buckeyes and Cornhuskers.
Finally, the Michigan State Spartans faced off against the Iowa Hawkeyes – it was probably the most compelling game of the day. Iowa got off to a hot start in the first half and yet, Michigan State hung around. Sparked by a 22-2 run in the second half led by Adreian Payne, Gary Harris, and Keith Appling, the Spartans rallied and held on for a 59-56 victory against an Iowa team that was “on the bubble” coming into the Big Ten Tournament. The Hawkeyes can only wait and see whether they will be going dancing. As for Michigan State, the Spartans square off against Ohio State at approximtely 4:05 p.m. in the second semifinal of the day.
It’s been March Madness in full force for the first two days of the tournament. The weekend should bring even more excitement from the United Center.