With Illinois' upset over Michigan State on Saturday, Michigan was able to clinch at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title. A win in their final two games this week will clinch a solo title for the Wolverines, and the number one overall seed in the Big Ten Tournament next week. While seeds two and three look to be heading to Wisconsin and Michigan State, the rest of the seeding is still a mess in trying to figure out. Currently Iowa sits in fourth place, and holds the last first round bye, but plenty could change over the next week.
Purdue (15-14, 5-11): LOSS v. #16 Michigan (77-76 OT), LOSS @ #20 Iowa (83-76):
It was a week of blown leads for the Boilermakers, but the loss to Michigan on Wednesday night has to especially sting. Not only did the game-winning basket for the Wolverines come from the son of a Purdue legend, but the Boilermakers had been able to rack up a 19-point lead in the first half before they fumbled it away. All five starters hit double figures for the Boilermakers, with Terone Johnson putting in a season-high 22 points and his brother Ronnie adding 21 points and seven assists. A.J. Hammons fouled out with about two minutes left in regulation, and the loss of the big man was pretty evident with Michigan exploiting the hole to force overtime. Kendall Stephens had a chance to extend the lead to three late in overtime, but missed the front end of a one-and-one with 12 seconds left to setup the winner from Glenn Robinson III.
Purdue was almost able to be on the winning end of comeback from a 13-point halftime deficit on Sunday, but a six and a half minute drought without a field goal ended any hopes they have of victory in Iowa City. The Boilermakers trailed 50-37 at halftime, but were able to hold a 64-60 lead before Iowa's strong closing push. Raphael Davis scored a career-high 18 points for Purdue, while A.J. Hammons added 16 points and 14 rebounds in the losing effort. The Boilermakers were hurt by 16 turnovers compared to only five that Iowa committed in the game.
Purdue is in the midst of a four-game losing streak which they will try and snap on Wednesday when they travel to Wisconsin. If the Boilermakers aren't success in Madison, they'll have one last shot to break their losing skid when they close out the regular season at home against Northwestern on Sunday.
Nebraska (17-11, 9-7): LOSS @ Illinois (60-49), WIN v. Northwestern (54-47):
After winning seven of their last eight games, Nebraska hit a speed bump on Wednesday as they try to work themselves into the conversation for a bid to the NCAA Tournament. 15 turnovers really hurt the Cornhuskers as they fell to Illinois in Champaign. Terran Petteway scored 13 points to lead Nebraska in defeat, but that ended a stretch of four straight games where he scored 20 points or more. Petteway didn't get much support offensively from his teammates, with no other Nebraska player hitting double figures. The Cornhuskers fell behind early after going 0-8 from three-point range in the first half.
Tim Miles' team was able to rebound on Saturday when they returned home to sweep the regular season series with Northwestern. Shavon Shields powered Nebraska with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Walter Pitchford narrowly missed a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds. Nebraska took the lead with just over three minutes gone in the first half and never trailed again, going up by 11 in the second half before holding off a late Northwestern push. The win clinched the first time in their three seasons in the Big Ten that the Cornhuskers will finish with at least a .500 conference regular season record.
With only a week to go Nebraska will have to finish strong if they want to put themselves back on the bubble. The Cornhuskers will travel to Indiana to try and sweep the Hoosiers on Wednesday before hosting Wisconsin in the regular season finale on Sunday.
#18 Michigan State (22-7, 11-5): LOSS v. Illinois (53-46):
Michigan State might be getting healthier as they enter March, but right now those returning pieces aren't quite geling right now. The latest Spartan to return from injury was Branden Dawson, who played in his first game on Saturday after being sidelined since January 21st with a broken hand. In his return Dawson played 25 minutes and scored six points and grabbed seven rebounds off the bench. It wasn't quite enough as the Spartans slumped to their sixth loss in the last 10 games.
The only Michigan State player to find success against Illinois was Gary Harris, who scored 19 points and was the lone Spartan to put up more than seven points. After being tied at 28 at halftime, Michigan State struggled mightily in the second half, only scoring 18 points. Adreian Payne tied a season-low with four points in the contest.
The loss allowed Michigan to at least clinch a share of the Big Ten regular season championship, which means the Spartans will need to win and get some major help this week if they have any shot at sharing the regular season crown. It won't be easy this week, as Michigan State hosts Iowa on Thursday before traveling to Ohio State in the regular season finale on Sunday.
#20 Iowa (20-9, 11-7): LOSS @ Minnesota (95-89), LOSS @ Indiana (93-86), WIN v. Purdue (83-76):
The Hawkeyes had a rough time with their defense over the past week, which cost them two of the three games that they played last week. On Tuesday night Iowa allowed Minnesota to score 51 points in the first half, as they lost their first game this season to a team that wasn't ranked in the Top-25 entering last week. Roy Devyn Marble scored 24 points, but only five of those came in the second half, while Aaron White had 21 points and nine rebounds. Josh Oglesby contributed 16 points in his first start of the year as Melsahn Basabe was held out of the game due to illness. Minnesota went up 80-67 with over eight minutes to go, but Iowa was able to hold the Golden Gophers without a field goal the rest of the game. The Hawkeyes closed to within 82-80, but Minnesota hit their free throws and were able to send Iowa to defeat.
Fran McCaffery's team had a quick turnaround with a trip to Bloomington on Thursday to make up the game with the Hoosiers that was cancelled a few weeks ago due to a falling beam at Assembly Hall. Iowa again was a part of a high-scoring first half, taking a 52-49 lead to the locker room after 20 minutes. Turnovers really killed the Hawkeyes, as they committed 18 in the game and weren't able to hold off Indiana. Aaron White had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Roy Devyn Marble had 20 points in the third straight loss for Iowa.
Iowa was able to snap that losing streak in their third game in the last six days, but it wasn't easy against Purdue on Sunday. Early on it looked like it wouldn't be tough for Iowa, as they opened up a 50-37 halftime lead over the Boilermakers. That lead didn't last though, with Purdue charging back to take a 64-60 lead. The Hawkeye defense that was missing most of the week took over, holding the Boilermakers without a field goal for six and a half minutes in taking back a 68-64 lead. The Hawkeyes held Purdue off the rest of the way on their way to their 20th win of the season. Marble had 20-plus points for the third time last week, finishing with 21 points, while Aaron White and Mike Gesell each had 15 points for Iowa.
Iowa currently sits in fourth place in the Big Ten, which would give them the all-important first round bye. The Hawkeyes have some work to do if they want to keep that seed, with a trip to East Lansing on Thursday to face Michigan State before finishing then regular season at home against Illinois.
Minnesota (18-12, 7-10): WIN v. #20 Iowa (95-89), LOSS @ #16 Michigan (66-56):
Minnesota had a chance to improve their tournament resume with a couple wins over ranked teams last week, but they'll have to settle for a split of those two games. After struggling to find their offense lately, the Golden Gophers were able to find their shooting touch against Iowa. The first half saw Minnesota score 51 points and they added to that after half, registering their highest point total in a conference game that didn't go to overtime since March of 1995.
Austin Hollins put in a career-high 27 points against the Hawkeyes. The strong play from Hollins was a welcome sight to Minnesota supports after Hollins scored a combined 24 points and committed 11 turnovers over the last four games. Hollins wasn't the only Minnesota player to record a career-high, as Charles Buggs scored 13 points after tallying five points in 21 career minutes coming into the game. Deandre Mathieu added 19 points and seven assists as the Golden Gophers were able to hold off a late Iowa charge after they led by 13 with over right minutes left.
After scoring 51 points on Tuesday night against Iowa in the first half, Minnesota was only able to muster 20 in the first 20 minutes against Michigan. The Golden Gophers were able to cut the 11-point halftime deficit to pull within two with four minutes to go, but they ran out of steam and Michigan pulled away. Austin Hollins scored 16 and Andre Hollins scored 10 points, and were the only Minnesota players to reach double figures.
The Golden Gophers only have one game left before the Big Ten Tournament, as they'll host Penn State on Saturday. Richard Pitino's team will try and build some momentum in their last push for a tournament bid.
Illinois (17-12, 6-10): WIN v. Nebraska (60-49), WIN @ #18 Michigan State (53-46):
After struggling for much of Big Ten play, Illinois is hitting their stride, winning their last three games. The Fighting Illini took down a Nebraska team that came in having won five straight games. After they took a 27-24 lead into half Illinois put some distance on the Cornhuskers, opening up a 50-37 lead and not allowing Nebraska to get closer than eight points the rest of the way. Freshman Kendrick Nunn led Illinois with 13 points, while fellow frosh Malcolm Hill added 10 points. Rayvonte Rice almost notched a double-double, racking up 10 points and nine boards.
John Groce's team was able to return the favor to Michigan State after the Spartans won in Champaign earlier in the year. The Fighting Illini led by as many as 12 points in the first half before the teams went into half tied at 28. Illinois' defense really tightened up in the second half, only allowing Michigan State to score 18 points. The defensive effort was the fourth game in a row that Illinois held their opponent under 50 points, the first time they'be achieved that since 1947-48. Tracy Abrams has 12 points and five steals while Rayvonte Rice matched those five steals and added 10 points.
Illinois will face a tough task if they want to keep their winning streak going, hosting Michigan on Tuesday before closing out the regular season at Iowa on Saturday. If Illinois is able to warm a win or two they'll be a team nobody will wanna see in Indianapolis next week.
Penn State (14-15, 5-11): WIN v. #22 Ohio State (65-63), LOSS v. #14 Wisconsin (71-66):
If only Penn State played Ohio State every game this season, they would be pretty good at this basketball thing. The Nittany Lions swept the regular season series with the Buckeyes when they won on Thursday night in State College. D.J. Newbill scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half, again being the drive force to send the Buckeyes to defeat. Tim Frazier added 16 points to help make up for the six turnovers that he committed. The Nittany Lions had 16 turnovers in the game, and missed some crucial free throws down the stretch, but the Buckeyes couldn't get a couple Lenzelle Smith Jr shots to fall late in the game to earn the win. For a complete recap of Thursday night's game click it here.
Penn State wasn't able to make it two wins last week against ranked teams, narrowly falling to Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon. The final home game of the season for Penn State saw the Nittany Lions hang tough, but the Badgers had just a little too much firepower in this contest. D.J. Newbill again had 23 points for the Nittany Lions and the junior became the 31st Penn State cager to eclipse the 1,000 point mark in a career. Tim Frazier added 10 points in his final game at the Bryce Jordan Center, but the downfall for Penn State was their horrid shooting from three, only hitting 1-13 from distance. Penn State pulled within two late in the game, but Wisconsin was able to hit their free throws to clinch the victory.
Now Penn State hits the road to finish out the regular season, traveling to Northwestern on Thursday night before their regular season finale at Minnesota on Saturday. With the leadership of Newbill and Frazier, the Nittany Lions will be a tough out for any team they see in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
#14 Wisconsin (24-5, 11-5): WIN v. Indiana (69-58), WIN @ Penn State (71-66):
After losing four of five games earlier in the conference season, Wisconsin has comeback strong, now having won their last seven games in the Big Ten. Things looked bleak early in Tuesday night's game in Madison against Indiana, with the Badgers going into halftime trailing the Hoosiers 29-19. Whatever Bo Ryan said to his team worked wonders, as Wisconsin came back out from the locker room with a 9-2 run in the first three minutes and went on to shoot 62% in the second half while pulling away from Indiana. After going 1-10 from long range in the first half, Wisconsin was on point in the second twenty minutes, going 6-11 from behind the arc. The Badgers also found success from the foul line, going 22-24 from the charity stripe while Indiana only went 2-3. Sam Dekker scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Wisconsin, and Traeveon Jackson added 14 points in the winning effort.
On Sunday afternoon the Badgers held off a game Penn State team in State College, again excelling at free throws when it counted, hitting 13-14 foul shots over the final eight minutes to help gain the victory. Josh Gasser had 15 points and Ben Brust had 14 points to help Wisconsin stick near the top of the Big Ten. It looked like Wisconsin might put this bed early when they jumped out to a double-digit lead early in the first half, but Penn State came back to make the Badgers sweat for the victory. While Penn State hit a high percentage of their shots, the Badgers were able to make up for the by hitting seven more three-pointers and ten more free throws than the Nittany Lions.
Wisconsin will now try to extend their winning streak when they close out the regular season this week. The Badgers will host Purdue on Wednesday night before closing against Nebraska on Sunday in Lincoln. The Badgers will have to hope Michigan slips in their final two games if they have any hope at sharing the regular season crown with the Wolverines, but winning both games this week is very important for seeding purposes heading into the Big Ten Tournament next week. Currently the Badgers are tied at 11-5 with the Spartans for second in the Big Ten.
#16 Michigan (21-7, 13-3): WIN @ Purdue (77-76 OT), WIN v. Minnesota (66-56):
As Glenn Robinson Jr was in the crowd at his alma mater, his son made sure the Purdue faithful went home disappointed Wednesday night when he hit the game-winning jumper as time expired in overtime. Glenn Robinson III scored 14 of his 17 points the second half and overtime as Michigan rallied from a 19-point first halftime deficit to pick up a big win on their road to a Big Ten regular season title. Nik Stauskas scored 15 points on only 5-18 shooting in the comeback victory, Caris LeVert had 14 points and seven rebounds, and Jordan Morgan has 13 points and nine rebounds in the game. The Wolverines were helped by Purdue's Kendall Stephens missing the front-end of a one-and-one and the Boilermakers up 76-75 late in the overtime to set up Robinson III's winning shot.
Michigan was able to clinch at least a share of the Big Ten regular season championship on Saturday, and they didn't even have to do anything. With Michigan State's loss to Illinois earlier in the day, the Wolverines were guaranteed at least a share of the regular season crown for the third straight year. The Wolverines already had a celebration planned for Saturday, but it was to honor the 1989 NCAA title team. Michigan jumped out to a 31-20 halftime and withstood the Minnesota charge as the Golden Gophers pulled within two points in the second half to gain their 13th victory inside the Big Ten this season. Nik Stauskas was on-target a little more than earlier in the week, nailing five of the eight three-pointers he took in the game on his way to 21 points. A save from Spike Albrecht to Jordan Morgan sparked the closing run from the Wolverines, allowing them to turn that two-point lead into an eventual 10-point victory.
Now Michigan only needs a victory to clinch the outright Big Ten regular season title, and they'll have two games to try and earn that honor. On Tuesday night Michigan will hope to avoid the upset bug when they travel to Illinois to take on the Fighting Illini. If the Wolverines can't gain a victory in Champaign they'll get one last chance to win in their own building this year when they host Indiana on Saturday.
Northwestern (12-17, 5-11): LOSS @ Nebraska (54-47):
After showing some life in the middle of the Big Ten season, Northwestern is having a real tough go at it to close out the Big Ten campaign, now having lost their last six games in the conference. Nebraska was up by as many as 10 points with seven minutes to go, but fought back to cut the lead to four points, but that's as close as they'd get before Nebraska would end up earning the win. Alex Olah had a team-high 20 points, as Northwestern really struggled from the field, only shooting 33% from the field. Drew Crawford found a way to make it to 11 points on only 4-13 from the field, while Tre Demps struggled just as bad, accumulating 10 points on 3-15 shooting.
The Wildcats currently sit in a three-way tie for the worst record inside the Big Ten, and they'll try this week to avoid earning the lowest seed in the upcoming Big Ten tournament. On Thursday Northwestern will host fellow basement-dweller Penn State before traveling to West Lafayette to close out the regular season against the third team that sits at 5-11 right now, Purdue.
Indiana (17-12, 7-9): LOSS @ #14 Wisconsin (69-58), WIN v. #20 Iowa (93-86), WIN v. #22 Ohio State (72-64):
In a busy week for Indiana, they came away mostly successful, but have to be kicking themselves for the one loss they suffered. The Hoosiers were able to puzzle Wisconsin on Tuesday night in Madison through 20 minutes, taking a 29-19 lead into the halftime break. The second half was a much different story for Indiana, with Wisconsin hitting lights out from the field to recover to gain the victory. Yogi Ferrell ended the game with 24 points and Noah Vonleh continued his stellar freshman campaign in the Big Ten with 18 points, but it wasn't quite enough to keep pace with the Badgers. Besides Ferrell and Vonleh, no Indiana player scored more than seven points in the game.
Indiana was able to use runs of 9-0 after halftime to take a 62-60 lead after trailing by three points at the break, followed by a 7-2 sprint to take a 71-68 lead before extending that lead to finish Thursday night's game with a victory in the makeup of the postponed game from a couple weeks ago in Bloomington. The win was huge for Indiana, as it gave them some momentum heading into the last couple games of the regular season that will be followed by the Big Ten Tournament. The Hoosiers need a strong run to close the season along with a deep run in Indianapolis if they have any hope at getting a bid to the big dance. Will Sheehey notched a career-high with 30 points while Stanford Robinson also put up a career best with 17 points, as a couple unlikely scorers pushed the Hoosiers to victory.
In the final game of the trio that were on the schedule last week for the Hoosiers, Indiana was able to deal with not having Noah Vonleh avaliable for the game, getting 20 points from Yogi Ferrell and 19 from Will Sheehey. Indiana used a 16-0 run in the first half to erase a eight-point deficit and add to the woes for the Buckeyes. The Hoosiers got eight points and five rebounds from Hanner Mosquera-Perea in 15 minutes off the bench to try and offset the loss of Vonleh to a foot injury. For a complete recap of the game check out with Ben had to write after the Ohio State/Indiana tilt went final.
Indiana will try and build off those two wins against ranked teams this week when they host Nebraska on Wednesday before the regular season finale in Ann Arbor against Michigan on Saturday. The Hoosiers could move back to .500 in conference if they are able to score two victories this week.