The 2016 Big Ten tournament moved into the quarterfinal round Friday. It marked the first appearance in the event for the conference's top four seeds (Indiana, Michigan State, Maryland and Purdue), which had received byes through the first two rounds.
One storyline that always takes center stage in conference tournaments is the bubble watch. Rivals Michigan and Ohio State both arrived to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis with work to do in order to earn a place in the NCAA tournament field Sunday.
Let's check out the scores from the quarterfinal round, which will be updated through the end of play. That's followed by a look toward Saturday's semifinals and a recap of the action.
|7||No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 8 Michigan||72-69 MICH|
|8||No. 4 Purdue vs. No. 12 Illinois||89-58 PUR|
|9||No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 7 Ohio State||81-54 MSU|
|10||No. 3 Maryland vs. No. 11 Nebraska||97-86 UMD|
Semifinal Schedule and Bracket
|11||No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 4 Purdue||Saturday at 1 p.m.|
|12||No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 3 Maryland||Saturday at 3:30 p.m.|
Here's a look at the bracket from the Big Ten Network:
Michigan 72, Indiana 69
Michigan's Kameron Chatman shocked Indiana by knocking down a game-winning three with 0.2 left on the clock to give the Wolverines a much-needed 72-69 victory.
Zak Irvin led the offensive charge for the No. 8 seed with 17 points. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman added 15 points, while Derrick Walton Jr. had 12 assists despite scoring just two points.
Hoosiers star Yogi Ferrell had another solid outing with 14 points, eight assists and four rebounds. OG Anunoby also shined in a losing effort by making all six of his shots en route to 13 points.
The Big Ten Network highlighted the winning shot:
Simon Kaufman of Michigan Daily provided another angle:
Wow. Michigan wins. pic.twitter.com/GNZLREzdyL— Simon Kaufman (@sjkauf) March 11, 2016
Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press noted Michigan head coach John Beilein knew coming into the event that his team needed to show it could compete with the Big Ten's top teams in order to boost its case with the selection committee.
"We've got to make some repairs, we've got to play better and prove to people we're good enough to play in the NCAA tournament," Beilein said.
Beating Indiana certainly makes quite a statement.
The victory was no fluke, either. The Wolverines took some heavy body shots from a talented Indiana group and kept fighting back every time. Campus Insiders provided a good visual representation of the seesaw battle:
Michigan entered the final minute down by three and without having made a three-pointer the entire second half. Duncan Robinson hit from beyond the arc and then, after forcing an Anunoby turnover at the defensive end, Chatman came up with the clutch buzzer-beater for the win.
It's hard to definitively say the victory guarantees Michigan a spot in the NCAA tournament field because there are so many outside factors in play. That said, it's a gigantic step in the right direction, and the team gets another chance to bolster its resume in the semifinals.
Joe Lunardi of ESPN stated he moved the Wolverines from the "Next Four Out" group to the "First Four Out" group after the win. So he believes they still have work to do.
On the flip side, it's a setback for Indiana's efforts to earn a higher seed. The Hoosiers could have potentially moved up to the No. 2 line by winning the conference tournament. Now they may be a No. 4 or even a No. 5 seed depending on how the other tourneys play out over the next few days.
But the most important takeaway is Michigan keeping its Big Dance hopes alive in dramatic fashion.
ESPN provided postgame reaction from Beilein following the emotional roller coaster:
Mike Miller of the Herald Times noted Ferrell was disappointed about falling short, but he quickly turned the focus to the next challenge on the horizon.
"We definitely wanted two more championships," the team's leading scorer said. "We couldn't get one, but we're still in the running for another one."
Purdue 89, Illinois 58
Perhaps Purdue used Michigan's upset of Indiana as a wake-up call because the Boilermakers left nothing to chance in an 89-58 blowout of Illinois.
Five different players reached double digits for the fourth seed, led by Isaac Haas' 16 off the bench. Caleb Swanigan posted a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds while frontcourt partner A.J. Hammons had 10 points and eight boards.
Meanwhile, the Fighting Illini came back to Earth after starting the tournament on fire by crushing Minnesota and upsetting Iowa. Maverick Morgan put up a team-best 17 points in a contest that was ever remotely competitive.
ESPN Stats and Info highlighted the difference a couple days made for Illinois:
Purdue defeats Illinois 89-58, the 2nd-largest win in #B1GTourney history.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 11, 2016
The largest is Illinois' 33-point win over Minnesota on Wed.
Purdue could be a sleeper throughout March Madness. The Boilermakers are effective at both ends of the floor thanks in large part to a frontcourt of Swanigan, Hammons and Vince Edwards that's capable of matching up with anybody in the country.
If they can shoot threes anywhere close to the rate they did Friday (13 of 27), which means their guards are getting involved, they will become an extremely tough out in the NCAA tournament. They rank 74th in the nation in three-point percentage for the season, though.
Brian Otskey of Rush the Court is bullish on their chances:
Purdue is a good sleeper pick for the F4 Frontcourt will give many teams problems. Nobody talking about the Boilermakers as a contender.— Brian Otskey (@botskey) March 11, 2016
Up next, Purdue must prepare for a suddenly red hot Michigan squad that's picking up steam at the perfect time. It should be an entertaining battle after the sides split the regular-season series, with both teams winning on their home floor.
When the Boilermakers scored a 87-70 triumph back in December they outrebounded the Wolverines 36-28. They lost the rebounded battle by four in a later loss. So whichever team is able to grab that advantage in the semifinal should have the upper hand.
ESPN passed along comments from Hammons about the one-sided win:
Illini head coach John Groce is already looking forward to finding ways to improve for next season, per Jeremy Werner of Scout.
"Once we get our chance to catch our breath, we'll put a heck of a plan together to get better," he said.
Michigan State 81, Ohio State 54
The Michigan State Spartans cruised to a quarterfinal win over the Ohio State Buckeyes, 81-54, Friday night behind a stunning second-half surge.
Although they entered halftime up just seven points, the Spartans exploded out of the locker room to score 48 points over the game's final 20 minutes.
On a night when balance reigned supreme, Michigan State saw four of its five starters finish in double-figures, with Denzel Valentine the man leading the charge, as NBC Sports' Rob Dauster noted:
Denzel Valentine, with 18 minutes left, has 17 points, seven boards and four assists. In other words, "I see you, Buddy."— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) March 12, 2016
The National Player of the Year candidate finished with a team-high 19 points while grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out eight assists in 31 minutes. Eron Harris added 13 points and Deyonta Davis posted 12 points, seven rebounds and two steals.
All told, the Spartans shot 48.4 percent from the field while clamping down on the Buckeyes offense in a big way. While Ohio State shot a respectable 42.6 percent from the field, it also managed to convert just 1-of-11 attempts from beyond the arc.
Matched up against a Michigan State team that scored at solid rates both inside and out, that sort of shaky performance didn't cut it.
And while the Buckeyes may be headed to the NIT, the Spartans look like a solid bet to secure a No. 1 seed when brackets are revealed on Sunday.
Big Ten champions or not, the Spartans have run roughshod over opponents the past few weeks. Factor in that their resume boasts wins over Kansas, Iowa, Maryland and Louisville, and the Spartans are in line to make some noise in the Big Dance.
MLive.com's Mike Griffith provided a soundbite from MSU head coach Tom Izzo, who appeared pleased with his team's effort:
"That’s the thing about Coach Izzo that’s made him so successful and what drives him and drives his players is that every single day, he brings his lunch pail to work and we grind it out," Valentine added, per Griffith.
Maryland 97, Nebraska 86
In the final game of the night, Maryland put on an offensive showcase to blow by Nebraska, 97-86, and set up a semifinal date with Michigan State.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Maryland's scoring display proved to be historic:
Jake Layman looked like a man possessed as Maryland built a 17-point halftime lead, and he went on to finish with 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including 6-of-9 from three.
The Big Ten Network on Twitter shared some NBA Jam-like footage of Layman scorching nets against the Cornhuskers:
And while Layman lit it up from deep, Diamond Stone did the dirty work for Maryland on the interior as he scored 23 points on an efficient 11-of-15 shooting. To cap things off, Melo Trimble chipped in 16 points and eight assists as Maryland waltzed its way to an easy win.
Nebraska actually acquitted itself nicely by shooting 47 percent from the field, but the problem wasn't offense. Rather, the Cornhuskers simply couldn't muster enough stops to close the gap and compete with a scorching-hot Terrapins attack.
Then again, it shouldn't have come as much of a surprise that the Cornhuskers struggled to lock down on defense. They entered the evening ranked just 74th in scoring defense, per TeamRankings.com, and a Maryland team touting an impressive and diverse range of scoring options was too much for them to handle.
With a win in hand, Maryland will need to hope it can carry over the momentum from Friday night's victory and capture a signature win over Michigan State on Saturday evening.
After losing four of six games between Feb. 13 and March 6, Maryland appeared primed to enter the NCAA tournament as candidates for an early exit.
And while a win over Nebraska doesn't change the narrative much, a triumph over the Spartans would be reason to believe the Terrapins have what it takes to make a deep run over the next few weeks.
Immediately after the final buzzer sounded, Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon discussed his team's big win, as the Big Ten Network on Twitter documented:
"(Maryland) played with unbelievable pace," Nebraska coach Tim Miles said, according to the Chicago Tribune's Shannon Ryan. "I think a lesser team (than ours) would have folded, but our guys showed grit, toughness, heart and soul to battle back."
"Their pace and their effectiveness in offense and three point (shooting) and the way they shot the ball, especially early, it was just hard to get them under control," Miles added, per the Indianapolis Star's Dana Hunsinger Benbow. "We were just so far behind we needed more possessions."