Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 3/8/12

The Big Ten Tournament has gotten off to a hot and heavy start on Day 1. The 3rd game was no exception as the Northwestern Wildcats and Minnesota Golden Gophers locked up in a fierce battle. On a day when Senior John Shurna needed to lead his team to victory it was Minnesota’s freshman point guard Andre Hollins that carried the day. Minnesota pulled off a first round upset with a 75-68 overtime win.

Andre Hollins

After a nail-biter in game 1 that saw Iowa survive Illinois, the Indiana Hoosiers blew out Penn State in the 2nd game of the day. A lopsided victory simply wasn’t in the cards in this one. The two teams literally traded jabs all night, waiting for someone to finally take one on the chin and go down for the count.

No knockout punch would be delivered in regulation.

Northwestern had the ball and a 61-59 lead with 1:02 left to play and inexplicably turned the ball over out of the timeout. Andre Hollins took the ball coast-to-coast and tied the score at 61.

Jershon Cobb followed that with a shot in the lane with 32 seconds left that hung on the rim, wanted to drop in, but eventually fell off the front of the rim in agonizing fashion. Hollins clanked a jumper with 5 seconds left and then Dave Sobolewski missed a runner near the 3-point line that pushed the game into overtime.

Back-to-back 3’s midway through the overtime session by Julian Welch and Austin Hollins gave Minnesota the advantage. They led by 3 with 1:22 left in overtime before NU’s Reggie Hearn hit a pair of free throws to close the gap to 1 point. Dre Hollins hit a runner to push the lead back to 3 before Bill Carmody called a timeout with 44.2 seconds left.

Cobb turned the ball over for no apparent reason giving the Gophers the advantage. A Rodney Hollins slam dunk on the ensuing play put the game out of reach and Northwestern’s tournament hopes on life support once again.

Had Cobb’s shot fallen near the end of regulation this might have been a different story.

Dre Hollins was tremendous for the Gophers and looks to have a very bright future in the Big 10. Hollins poured in 25 points and handed out 5 assists in a huge win for Tubby Smith’s crew.

Jershon Cobb was back in the saddle for Northwestern. He scored a career-high 24 points. Shurna added 21 of his own but it wasn’t enough.

Many bracketologists already had the Wildcats in the tourney. To me, they needed this win to solidify the resume and potentially a 2nd round win over Michigan to guarantee their spot. That 2nd round game will never come. Northwestern has never made the NCAA tournament.

Minnesota will now set their sights on the Wolverines in a day 2 matchup that is set to tip off at 6:30 eastern on Friday.

Follow me on Twitter @isportsJoe

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