Super Seven: Biggest upsets in Big Ten men's play

The idea of David slaying Goliath is what makes sport great. Think about it: Upsets are the games we usually always remember. And the Big Ten has been filled with them this season. Just ask Indiana, which has been victimized more times than any Big Ten club this season. That’s the peril of being ranked so highly.

With just a handful of games left in the regular season, here’s a look at what I think have been the seven biggest upsets this season in Big Ten league action.

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1. Penn State 84, Michigan 78, Feb. 27. The Nittany Lions pulled off the stunner of the year with this gem, racing back from 15 points down to the No. 4 Wolverines. It was PSU’s first Big Ten win after opening 0-14 in league action. It was the highest-ranked foe that the Nittany Lions had beaten since moving to the Jordan Center in 1996.

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2. Illinois 74, Indiana 72, Feb. 7. Somehow, the Illini’s Tyler Griffey was left alone to race to the basked, taking an inbounds pass and laying it in with 0.9 seconds left to shock No. 1 Indiana. Illinois entered the game in a funk, having dropped eight of 11 games. And the Fighting Illini trailed this game, 41-29, at intermission.

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3. Minnesota 77, Indiana 73, Feb. 26. The Golden Gophers muscled up on the No. 1 Hoosiers. And this was a Minnesota club that entered the contest on a slump, having lost eight of 11 games and threatening to slide onto the dreaded NCAA bubble. But Trevor Mbakwe muscled in 21 points and grabbed 12 boards to dominate.

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4. Purdue 69, Wisconsin 56, March 3. This looked like it was going to be the blowout that many expected, as the No. 17 Badgers took a 32-19 lead over halfway through the first half on Senior Day vs. a Purdue team that was 2-6 in its last eight games, 13-15 overall and 6-9 in the Big Ten action entering the game. But the Boilermakers surged in the second half, beating Wisconsin (which had won six of seven) at its own game with defense, strong rebounding and grit. It also helped that D.J. Byrd and Terone Johnson combined for 38 points. The Boilermakers were a 16-point underdog in Madison and ended up winning by 13 points.

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5. Wisconsin 64, Indiana 59, Jan. 15. The unranked Badgers took down the No. 2 Hoosiers in Bloomington. Ryan Evans led the charge for the Badgers with 13 points; Traevon Jackson added 11. But it was Wisconsin’s trademark tough defense that was the hero in this game, as the Badgers got Indiana to play their deliberate style. Indiana entered the game as the nation’s highest-scoring team but finished with fewer than 60 for the first time all season. IU shot a season-low 37 percent. And the lone Big Ten squad with five players averaging in double-figures had just three players score at least 10 points.

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6. Purdue 68, Illinois 61, Jan. 2. When these teams met in their Big Ten opener, the Illini ranked No. 11 and were considered a nationally elite team. The Boilermakers were a wreak coming out of non-conference play, losing to the likes of Bucknell and Eastern Michigan. But Purdue, which entered the game with the worst record in the Big Ten at 6-6, slowed the tempo and played great defense. Terone Johnson led the offensive charge with a career-high 25 points, helping Purdue to an eighth straight victory over the Illini, who brought a 13-1 record to West Lafayette.

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7. Northwestern 55, Minnesota 48, Jan. 23. Tubby Smith questioned his team’s attitude and toughness after the No. 12 Golden Gophers lost this one in Evanston. Jared Swopshire paced the Wildcats with 16 points, sending Minnesota to a third loss in succession. Trevor Mbakwe did his part, notching 14 points and 16 rebounds, but Minnesota shot just 33 percent.

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About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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Doug on 3/7/2013 @ 2:03pm EDT Said:

Pretty good list Tom. Northwestern’s blowout win @ Illinois could also be considered.

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