Big Ten Tournament: Day Two
Day one of the Big Ten Tourney was pretty boring, to put it bluntly. Minnesota led pretty much the whole way and ended any hopes Northwestern had for their first ever tournament berth. Then Michigan jumped out to an early lead and never looked back against Iowa, all but clinching their first tournament appearance in 11 years. To end the day, Penn State beat Indiana in a game that was virtually unwatchable. Today promises to be better and if the other conference tournaments have taught us anything, it’s to be ready for the upset.
11:00 am (1) Michigan State vs. (8) Minnesota-
Michigan State swept the series against Minnesota winning easily on the road and blowing the Gophers out 76-47 in the Breslin Center. Both teams have quite a bit to play for as well. The Spartans find themselves still alive for a one seed in the NCAA Tournament and with Oklahoma and Pittsburgh losing, they actually have a pretty good chance if they run the table. Minnesota finds itself scoreboard watching already and might need a win to get in. Westbrook and the big guys inside will need to lead Minnesota if they’re to have a chance, but Michigan State can rotate a lot of bodies in there with Suton, Roe, Green, and Gray, and the Sparties have the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Travis Walton to match up with Westbrook. The Gophers pulled off the upset of the conference tourney last year against Indiana, and they’ll need an equally surprising result today.
1:30 (4) Wisconsin vs. (5) Ohio State-
The Badgers hosted the only meeting between these teams and won it by five. Both teams are near locks for the tournament at this point and are both nine seeds in the latest Bracketology. That doesn’t mean that we’ll see a relaxed game between two apathetic teams though. The Badgers seem to make it to the last day of this tournament every year, and Bo Ryan will likely be pissed with anything less this year. Ohio State hasn’t played its best basketball down the stretch and would like nothing more than to build a little momentum going into the Big Dance by winning today and getting a shot at Michigan State tomorrow. The key for Wisconsin will be to contain Evan Turner. The kid can score and is capable of putting the Buckeyes on his back for a win. Ohio State will need to keep Wisconsin off the glass. The Badgers are at their best when they hit the offensive boards. So many easy putbacks and open threes are set up on second chance points for Wisconsin.
Michigan takes on Illinois at 5:30 and Penn State gets Purdue in the late game. I’ll preview those a little later today.