Ohio State made a statement in the second round of the Big Ten tournament, beating Indiana 79-75 Thursday, and that victory over the Hoosiers may just propel the Buckeyes into the NCAA tournament.
Whether that happens or not, Ohio State has earned a spot in the Big Ten quarterfinal round, and the Buckeyes will take on top-seeded Michigan State.
The Buckeyes were joined by Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa as second-round winners. They move on to Friday's quarterfinals at the United Center in Chicago.
Big Ten tournament
Wednesday, March 13
Game 1: No. 13 Nebraska 68, No. 12 Rutgers 61
Game 2: No. 11 Illinois 74, No. 14 Northwestern 69
Thursday, March 14
Game 3: No. 8 Ohio State 79, No. 9 Indiana 75
Game 4: No. 13 Nebraska 69, No. 5 Maryland 61
Game 5: No. 7 Minnesota 77, No. 10 Penn State 72 (OT)
Game 6: No. 6 Iowa 83, No. 11 Illinois 62
Friday, March 15
Game 7: No. 1 Michigan State vs. No. 8 Ohio State (12:30 p.m. ET, BTN)
Game 8: No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 13 Nebraska (3 p.m., BTN)
Game 9: No. 2 Purdue vs. No. 7 Minnesota (7 p.m., BTN)
Game 10: No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 6 Iowa (9:30 p.m., BTN)
Saturday, March 16
Game 11: Friday afternoon winners (1 p.m. ET, CBS)
Game 12: Friday evening winners (3:30 p.m., CBS)
Sunday, March 17
Game 13: Saturday winners (3:30 p.m ET, CBS)
Joe Lunardi of ESPN.com had listed the Buckeyes among the last four teams in the NCAA tournament in his bracketology rankings, while Indiana had been among the first four teams out.
Keyshawn Woods scored 18 points to lead the Buckeyes against Indiana, and he was joined by Kaleb Wesson, who scored 17 points.
Ohio State led by as much as 20 points in the second half before the Hoosiers rallied, but the Buckeyes held on and advanced.
The Cornhuskers pulled off the surprising win over Maryland, as James Palmer Jr. scored 24 points to lead the attack.
Nebraska, losers of both regular-season games to the Terrapins, led by 13 points in the first half and took advantage of a poor offensive game by Maryland.
Minnesota advanced to the quarterfinals by surviving a tough battle with Penn State that went to overtime.
Amir Coffey scored 22 points for the Golden Gophers, and 10 of those points came in the final minute. Lamar Stevens had 24 points to lead the Nittany Lions.
Iowa took charge with a decisive run at the start of the second half and rolled to a huge victory over Illinois. The Hawkeyes were led by senior forward Nicholas Baer, who scored 17 points in the decisive triumph.
Ohio State may feel good about its win over the Hoosiers, but a much tougher assignment waits for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State lost two earlier games against the Spartans, and the Buckeyes are going to have to slow down guard Cassius Winston, who is averaging 19.0 points per game. That's unlikely, and Michigan State should win with ease.
Wisconsin should be a prohibitive favorite to beat Nebraska, just as Maryland was in the second round. That did not help the Terrapins, who were upset by an undermanned Cornhuskers.
Still, Wisconsin will be a formidable opponent. If the Cornhuskers can't stop forward Ethan Happ, who is averaging 17.8 points per game, it will almost certainly be the end of the line for Nebraska.
Second-seeded Purdue will have to play a feisty Minnesota team that found a way to survive and advance in overtime.
The Gophers and the Boilermakers split two games this season, with both teams winning on their home courts. Carsen Edwards is a dominant scorer for the Boilermakers, averaging 23.4 points per game, and he should lead Purdue to the victory and the semifinal round.
Michigan will meet Iowa in the final quarterfinal round, and the Hawkeyes should be a confident team. Not only did they handle the Fighting Illini in the second round, they defeated the Wolverines 74-59 in their lone regular-season meeting.
Michigan head coach John Beilein will use that defeat to get his team prepared for this game, and Michigan will survive and advance.
Ignas Bradzeikis is averaging 15.0 points per game for the Wolverines, and the Hawkeyes will not be able to stop him.
With the top four seeds advancing to the semifinal round, look for Michigan and Michigan State to advance to the championship game by beating Purdue and Wisconsin, respectively.
The Wolverines built a lead over the Spartans in both of their regular-season meetings, but Michigan State caught their in-state rivals on both occasions and won in the late going.
Michigan will put up a good fight once again, but head coach Tom Izzo's team has proved it knows how to succeed, and it will take charge down the stretch and win the Big Ten tournament.