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Dienhart: Michigan survives Illinois upset bid

When they last met, Michigan blew out Illinois. This time the game was much closer, but No. 1 Big Ten tournament seed Michigan did what strong teams always do – make clutch shots. Illinois had a chance to win it in the end, but the Wolverines escaped. [ MORE: AP RECAP | BOX | PBP | ALL SCORES | CONNECT | LIVE PRESSERS ] Key moment: Michigan was in control for much of this game, building a lead as large as 49-36 in the second half after a Caris LeVert dunk with 16:14 to play. But Illinois slowly chipped away

Big Ten Geeks: Illinois comes up short in Michigan upset bid

Illinois‘ bubble hopes are over after a last-second floater from Tracy Abrams came up short to hand Michigan the victory. Early in this game, the Illini defense was gambling too much and reaching a lot on the perimeter. This overaggressive play allowed the Wolverines to drive and collapse the defense, and Michigan’s offense was rolling on the way to a five-point halftime lead. First Half Efficiency Second Half Efficiency Illinois 1.08 1.14 Michigan 1.24 0.99 Illinois had stayed in the game with offensive rebounds and points in the paint, but it was clear Michigan would run away with this game

Big Ten Geeks: An Easy Bubble Solver Update

We sit a mere two days from Selection Sunday, yet much is still to be determined in Indianapolis. Thursday’s quarterfinals saw Minnesota and Illinois keep hope alive. How much more do these teams, along with Nebraska, need to do to get into the Big Dance? As you could probably tell over the last couple weeks, we’re fans of the Easy Bubble Solver. It’s a quick, easy, and objective way to get a feel for who’s truly on the bubble and who isn’t. You simply add together each team’s KenPom rank and RPI rank, then sort them from smallest to largest.

Dienhart: Four quick thoughts for Day 2

Thursday’s action will be difficult to top, as every game had drama. Friday will try to live up to that billing with four interesting tilts. Here is one though on each game. [ MORE: Day 1 stars | Day 2 previews | Get all of our Big Ten tourney coverage ] 1. No. 1 Michigan just may have a shot at a top seed in the NCAA tourney with Villanova losing early in the Big East tourney. It would be hard to ignore the Wolverines being regular-season and tourney champs in a very strong Big Ten. But Michigan must be

Dienhart: Setting the stage for today's action

Well, that was a fun opening day of the Big Ten tourney, wasn’t it? Officially, there was a pair of upsets, although No. 9 Illinois’ win over No. 8 Indiana isn’t all that much of a stunner. Anyway, all eyes move to Friday’s quarterfinals. Get my Day 2 primers in this post. [ MORE: Check out all of our Big Ten tourney coverage ] No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 9 Illinois The skinny on Michigan: The Wolverines have clearly established themselves as the hunted, winning the league crown by forging a 15-3 conference mark, which is three games better than

B1G Tourney: BTN.com's all-Thursday team

If you’re a fan of college basketball, then you have to appreciate how entertaining Day One of the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament was. Four games were decided by a total of 24 points, with No. 11 Northwestern closing out Thursday’s session with a memorable 67-62 upset victory over No. 6 Iowa. With four games in the book, there were plenty of outstanding individual performances as well. BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart and BTN.com web editor Sean Merriman provide their all-Thursday team from Day One of the Big Ten Tournament. [ MORE: Get all of our Big Ten tournament coverage

B1G Tourney: Best sights & sounds from Day 1

Day One of the Big Ten Tournament is officially in the books. Just as the regular season was, the opening round of the tournament was anything but predictable. No. 11 Northwestern upset No. 6 Iowa, Ohio State and Minnesota recorded narrow wins over Purdue and Penn State,  respectively, and Illinois topped Indiana, who many believed could make a run in this tournament. With that said, let’s take a look back at the best sights and sounds from Day One of the Big Ten Tournament. [ MORE: Read all of our Big Ten tournament coverage ] Best win: No. 11 Northwestern

Big Ten Geeks: Northwestern shocks Iowa

Iowa’s tailspin to close the regular season has carried into the postseason in the form of a stunning loss to Northwestern, 67-62. As an adjective, “stunning” is overused as pertains to college basketball, but this result is deserving of the term. Not only did the Wildcats overcome some heavy odds to get the win (KenPom had the Hawkeyes as 86% favorites), Chris Collins’ team also did it in the most unlikely way. Northwestern scored a staggering 1.17 points per possession on red-hot shooting (57 percent on twos, 48 percent on threes). Let’s not forget – these Wildcats quite possibly have

Instagram: Day 1 of 'The Journey' at the tourney

The crew from “The Journey” is covering the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament for an upcoming TV episode, but they’re also posting a bunch of photos to the show’s Instagram page. Here are a few shots from Thursday. Roy Devyn Marble stretches pregame, wearing special #teampat t-Shirt to lift spirits of Fran McCaffery's son. #classy A post shared by btnjourney (@btnjourney) on Mar 13, 2014 at 5:24pm PDT Happy Gopher Locker Room tonight. #b1gtourney #btnjourney A post shared by btnjourney (@btnjourney) on Mar 13, 2014 at 5:51pm PDT Ohio State moves on! #BigTenTourny #Btnjourney @ohiostatehoops A post shared by btnjourney (@btnjourney)

Big Ten Geeks: Defense leads Illinois past Indiana

Illinois rode a strong defensive effort to a victory over Indiana in the opening game of the 2014 Big Ten tournament. From the outset, it was clear that the Illini were going to aggressively double-team Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh on every touch, with the idea that a packed-in defense would force the Hoosiers to win the game from the perimeter. It’s a good approach against this Indiana team, which makes a living on drives to the bucket, offensive rebounds, and free throws, but the results were not what Illinois intended in the first half. The Hoosiers made 6-of-10 threes in the