March Madness: Big Ten Flexes Its Muscles in the 2nd Round
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Many believed that the Big Ten Conference limped into the NCAA Tournament and that the teams from the conference would not much of an impact.
After all, four of the seven teams from the Big Ten that made the NCAA Tournament lost 13 or more games during the season.
Additionally two of the three ranked teams from the Big Ten, Purdue and Wisconsin, both lost their opening games in the Big Ten Tournament with uninspired efforts.
Would the Big Ten be a wallflower or out on the dance floor when last call was announced at the Big Dance?
Ohio State 75 UT San-Antonio 46
Diebler had plenty of reasons to smile against the Roadrunners
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The Buckeyes jumped out to an early lead and were never really threatened by the Roadrunners, connecting on 57 percent of their shots and 12 of 24 three point shots from beyond the arc.
William Buford scored 18 points to the lead the No. 1 team in the nation.
Ohio State pushed their lead to 38 points in the second half, allowing Coach Thad Matta to sit Jared Sullinger, Jon Diebler, David Lighty and Buford with more than ten minutes to go in the game.
Now that the scrimmage is out of the way, let the tournament begin.
Next up: George Mason
The Patriots will be a worthy opponent, but in the end their lack of size will lead to their downfall against Ohio State.
Purdue 65 St. Peters 43
Moore looked impressive against the Peacocks
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The Boilermakers played energetically as they put the clamps on St. Peters, holding the Peacocks to just 29 percent shooting from the floor.
Offensively the Boilermakers were led by their two stars E’Twaun Moore and JuJuan Johnson, with Moore scoring 19 points.
Johnson, who had 16 points and 16 rebounds, however, had the play of the game with a highlight reel dunk off of an alley-oop inbound pass.
Next up: Virginia Commonwealth
Purdue appears headed to the Sweet 16, facing Virginia Commonwealth, who should match up against them up well.
Wisconsin 72 Belmont 58
Jordan Taylor is ready for prime time
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The 28-point loss to Ohio State and the 33-point output debacle against Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament appears to have been wiped clean from the memory of the Wisconsin players.
“We really forgot about the last two games,” Jordan Taylor said. “As soon as they were over we forgot about them.”
The one-two punch of Jon Leuer and Taylor was too much for Belmont as the two stars combined for 43 points.
Mike Bruesewitz, who sprained a knee against Penn State, looked healthy as he scored 8 points and grabbed a career high nine rebounds.
Next up: Kansas State
Jacob Pullen against Jordan Taylor will be one of the best guard showdowns in the tournament.
Michigan 75 Tennessee 45
Morris is taking his game to another level
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When you win by 30 points, the post-game conversation should be about how well you played.
The Wolverines played well, out rebounding the Volunteers 36-26, shooting 52 percent from the field and becoming the first team to ever win an NCAA Tournament game without making a single free throw.
Unfortunately for Michigan, the post-game conversation was all about how the Tennessee Volunteers quit and how their Coach Bruce Pearl may be out of job for recruiting violations and lying to the NCAA.
Next up: Duke
While Michigan likely will not be able to hit enough three pointers to stay with Duke, the game should be a great shoot-out.
Illinois 73 UNLV 62
McCamey and Davis gave UNLV no chance
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Who were those players in the orange and blue Illinois uniforms?
The Illini challenged every shot that the Running Rebels took and even several of the shots UNLV thought about shooting.
Demetri McCamey played with an air of confidence that has been missing for several weeks and the Illini fed off of his energy.
Thanks to their stifling defense and McCamey’s leadership, the Illini raced out to a commanding 46-24 lead at half time.
Illinois had great ball rotation and they constantly found the open man breaking to the basket, tallying 22 assists.
Mike Davis led the Illini with a 22-point, 10-rebound effort.
Next up: Kansas
If the Illini come out with the same intensity against Kansas as they started with against UNLV, Illinois may take down the first No. 1 seed in the tournament.
Temple 66 Penn State 64
Battle gave Nittany Lions fans one more great memory
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The unofficial battle for the state of basketball supremacy in Pennsylvania was a great ball game.
Neither team led by more than four points and there were 10 lead changes in the nail-biting second half.
Penn State’s all-time leading scorer Talor Battle drained a 3-pointer from near the concession stand to tie the game with just over 10 seconds to go.
Temple’s Juan Fernandez, apparently not wanting to play an extra period, drained an off-balance 18-foot jumper with just .4 seconds on the clock.
Temple’s last NCAA tournament victory was in 2001 over Penn State.
The only blemish in the game was that Penn State’s Jeff Brooks left the game early in the second half after reinjuring his shoulder.
UCLA 78 Michigan State 76
Will Draymond Green Declare for the Draft?
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The Spartans grabbed a missed free throw with 4.4 seconds on the clock and had an opportunity to shoot a desperation shot to steal the game away from the Bruins.
Unfortunately, Kalin Lucas was called for traveling while attempting to dribble through three players.
UCLA dominated the game but the Spartans, as they have done for most of the season, weathered the storm to take advantage of UCLA’s inability to hit free throws. The Bruins missed nine free throws in the last 3:40 minutes of the game.
Draymond Green led Michigan State with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists—the seventh triple-double in NCAA tournament history.
Big Ten Is Ready to Continue Dancing
Things are looking good for the Big Ten
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As it stands now, the Big Ten Conference is 5-2 and has done extremely well in the NCAA tournament.
In the five games that the Big Ten has won, the average margin of victory is an eye-popping 21 points.
In the two games the Big Ten lost, both teams lost by only two points.
While the dance is not about to end in the near future, the Big Ten appears to be settling in nicely on the dance floor.