The 2014 Big Ten Tournament rolls on with quarterfinal action on Friday. Every team taking to the floor at Bankers Life Fieldhouse was three wins away from an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament, a distinction more important to some squads than others.
Day 1 of the tournament featured a pair of upsets. No. 11 Northwestern used a strong second half to squeak past No. 6 Iowa and No. 8 Indiana wasn't able to overcome a poor shooting performance against No. 9 Illinois.
Let's check out the action on Day 2 with a complete list of results, an updated tournament bracket and a look ahead to the semifinal slate for Saturday. The information will be updated throughout the day as the games go final.
Day 2 Results
|No. 1 Michigan||No. 9 Illinois||64-63 MICH|
|No. 4 Nebraska||No. 5 Ohio State||71-67 OSU|
|No. 2 Wisconsin||No. 7 Minnesota||83-57 WISC|
|No. 3 Michigan State||No. 11 Northwestern||67-51 MSU|
No. 3 Michigan State 67, No. 11 Northwestern 51
The 22nd-ranked Michigan State Spartans jumped on top of Northwestern early on in Friday night's Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal, racing out to a 40-22 halftime lead en route to a comfortable 67-51 victory.
Branden Dawson led the Spartans with 16 points and nine rebounds on 8-of-12 shooting from the field.
Michigan State only converted on 5-of-10 free throws, but hit slightly better than 42 percent as a team from beyond the arc. The Spartans were also dominant on the boards, out-rebounding the Wildcats 40-24 over the course of 40 minutes.
The loss drops Northwestern to 14-19 on the year and propels Michigan State to 24-8 overall. The Spartans will have a few hours to rest up before taking on Wisconsin in Saturday's second semifinal.
No. 2 Wisconsin 83, No. 7 Minnesota 57
The second-seeded Badgers dismantled the seventh-seeded Golden Gophers on Friday night in Indianapolis, beating up Minnesota on the boards and stifling Richard Pitino's squad defensively en route to a comfortable win.
Senior guard Ben Brust led the way for Wisconsin, scoring a game-high 29 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field.
Ben Brust for three... 4 times— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) March 15, 2014
Wisconsin led by 12 points at halftime thanks to their consistent defensive pressure. But the Badgers turned things up offensively in the second half, shooting a high percentage from the field and beyond the arc. Wisconsin finished the game shooting 54.5 percent from the floor and 41.7 percent from downtown.
Neither side turned the ball over a whole lot nor took advantage of its free-throw attempts, but Wisconsin's ability to limit Minnesota's second-chance opportunities would prove crucial in the end.
With the victory, Bo Ryan's squad advances to Saturday's semifinals. Meanwhile, Minnesota will remain on the bubble and have to wait until Selection Sunday to learn their fate as it pertains to the NCAA Tournament.
No. 5 Ohio State 71, No. 4 Nebraska 67
The Nebraska Cornhuskers will be kicking themselves all weekend long after letting an 18-point second-half lead get away in their loss to 24th-ranked Ohio State on Friday afternoon.
Nebraska led 48-30 with under 14 minutes to play in the second half, but a 26-10 run in less than nine minutes cut the Buckeyes' deficit to just two points with under five minutes to play. Despite possessing a five-point lead with three minutes to play, an untimely scoring drought and costly turnovers crushed the Cornhuskers' chances down the stretch.
LaQuinton Ross led the way with 26 points and 13 rebounds for Ohio State while Terran Petteway, who led Nebraska with 20 points, fouled out late.
Nebraska failure nearly complete here. Pettaway fouls out with 58.1 ticks left and Ross’ free throws give Ohio State 65-63 lead.— Brian Hamilton (@BrianHamiltonSI) March 14, 2014
The victory sets up a rematch between Ohio State and Michigan in Saturday's first semifinal. The Wolverines knocked off the Buckeyes, 70-60 in Columbus during the two teams' lone regular-season meeting on Feb. 11.
On the other hand, the loss means that Nebraska will remain on the bubble. The Cornhuskers are now 19-12 on the year and will be hoping the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee puts them into the field of 68 this weekend.
No. 1 Michigan 64, No. 9 Illinois 63
For awhile it appeared Michigan was going to cruise through the quarterfinals. The Wolverines built a five-point lead heading into halftime and stretched it to 13 early in the second half. It was exactly the type of play expected from the top seed.
Despite holding the No. 1 distinction, they still felt there was something to prove. Jenny Herstein of Michigan's official athletics site passed along comments from Nik Stauskas about continuing to play with a chip on their shoulder:
We're the number one seed but I don't think we're the favorite to win the tournament. I don't think anyone really thinks we're going to win. We have a chip on our shoulder and we're excited to prove ourselves again. It's just another great opportunity to show how hard we worked all season and that we can possibly be the best team in the Big Ten.
Michigan lost that edge after it started to pull away, though. Slowly Illinois chipped away at the lead. The Illini were back within one by the eight-minute mark, thanks in part to some aggressive zone defense that forced the Wolverines to go cold from the field.
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Glenn Robinson III hit a big three to slow Illinois' momentum, at least for a few minutes. The underdogs fought back again, however, but this time they were able to grab the lead.
A Rayvonte Rice bucket with just under five minutes to go gave the Illini the advantage and Kendrick Nunn stretched it to three with less than four to play.
Unfortunately for Illinois and its title hopes, the lead wouldn't hold up. Surprisingly, the Illini came out of their zone defense during the final few possessions and Michigan took advantage, going on a 6-2 run to close out the game.
Chris Childers of Sirius XM Radio questioned the defensive tactics:
Anyone else puzzled why Illinois got out of the zone late against Michigan? UM was helpless against it. It’s like they just gave game away.— Chris Childers (@ChildersRadio) March 14, 2014
Tracy Abrams had one last chance to pull off the upset for Illinois. His runner at the buzzer wouldn't fall and Michigan survived to reach the semifinals. Stauskas led the way with 19 points.
|(8) Indiana||(1) Michigan|
|(9) Illinois||(9) Illinois|
|(5) Ohio State||(4) Nebraska||(5) Ohio state|
|(12) Purdue||(5) Ohio State|
|(7) Minnesota||(2) Wisconsin|
|(10) Penn State||(7) Minnesota||(2) Wisconsin|
|(3) Michigan State|
|(6) Iowa||(3) Michigan State|
|(10) Northwestern||(11) Northwestern|
Day 3 Schedule
|1:40 p.m.||No. 1 Michigan||No. 5 Ohio State||CBS|
|4:10 p.m.||No. 2 Wisconsin||No. 3 Michigan State||CBS|
By advancing to the semifinals, Michigan sets up a meeting with Ohio State. The regular-season Big Ten champions will be favored in that matchup considering they beat the Buckeyes by 10 points on the road in their only previous meeting this season en route to a 15-3 conference mark.
Although the Wolverines are obviously a lock for the Big Dance, the next couple days are all about seeding. They should be in line for a two seed as things currently stand and could make a case to reach a one seed if they win the Big Ten title.
Meanwhile, Ohio State will be eyeing either a No. 4 or No. 5 seed. But a strong finish in Indianapolis could propel them to an even better seed.
Wisconsin and Michigan State will also be looking to bolster their tournament seeding on Saturday. Only one will advance to play for the Big Ten title and an automatic berth, but both are seemingly guaranteed a top five seed in the Big Dance.
Keep in mind that the Badgers won the two teams' only meeting back in February, prevailing 60-58 in a thriller on their home court.