With just one more preliminary round to go, we've got 4 contests today. Minnesota grabbed an upset to advance yesterday. PIC: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports
Last night's quick hitters:
There was an impending sense of doom for both these teams, and it turns out Ohio State was the more desperate one. They led by 22 at one point, and hung on for the win. The Buckeyes got 16 from Justice Sueing and 15 from Bruce Thornton, and held Chucky Hepburn to only 6. Now, the Badgers are lucky if they host a game in the NIT.
In another upset, the Golden Gophers won a thriller against Nebraska and will advance to the next round. The Gophers can thank Dawson Garcia for helping them survive; his double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds was too much for the relatively undersized Nebraska front court. Ta'Lon Cooper chipped in 16 points and 12 assists. Nebraska's momentum is all for naught, as they go out with a whimper after a strong finish to the regular season.
#9 Rutgers vs. #8 Michigan
12pm ET - BTN
Michigan desperately needed some time off after four combined overtime periods in their last three games (a 2OT loss at Illinois was the dagger). Rutgers, meanwhile, is 2-6 in their last 8. These are two teams in desperation mode, but I like Michigan's roster and play-style a bit more than the Scarlet Knights here - the winner has the distinct honor of trying to beat a Purdue team that can win the national championship.
#5 Iowa vs. #13 Ohio State
Approx. 2:30pm ET - BTN
Ohio State split with the Hawkeyes this year, but they wiped the floor with Iowa Yellow when they met in January. The Buckeyes won 93-77, with Brice Sensabaugh going 4-of-5 from beyond-the-arc en route to a 27-point masterclass. If Iowa can keep Sensabaugh and others at bay, they should have no problem here, but they've had a bit of a rocky road into the Big Ten Tournament, having gone 2-3 in their last five. The Hawkeyes are probably an at-large bid to the tournament anyway, but at least one win in the Big Ten postseason would solidify their chances at going to a regional next week.
#10 Penn State vs. #7 Illinois
6:30pm ET - BTN
Penn State swept Illinois in their two meetings this regular season, having won by a total of 27 over the two contests. The Nittany Lions are 5-1 in their last six, with a monster overtime win over Northwestern and a nail-biter vs. Maryland as their last two. Jalen Pickett is having a career year, and he's contributed to the Nittany's becoming one of the best three-point-shooting teams in the country. If the Lions keep the three-ball coming, this one is over before it starts...Penn State is primed for upset-land.
#6 Maryland vs. #14 Minnesota
Approx. 9pm ET - BTN
The curious case of the Maryland Terrapins continues. What if I told you that a Top 20 team in nearly every metric is a dismal 2-9 on the road? That's the reality for the Terps, though; they are fantastic in so many different measures, have electric playmakers in Jahmir Young & Donta Scott, a deep bench with Don Carey & Patrick Emilien becoming sneaky role-players, and a comfort in playing at a disciplined & composed tempo. Maryland lost their last two to Penn State & Ohio State, and one thing is for sure - if they leave their winning ways in College Park, Chicago will be a disappointment for the Terps. It's a winnable game for Minnesota, who is catching some momentum at the right time.