Indiana and Wisconsin tipped things off on Saturday in a back-and-forth affair that did not go according to script. For one, Indiana was supposed to be the athletic offensive rebounding powerhouse, but it was Wisconsin that was crashing the offensive glass early, collecting 43 percent of its misses in the first half.
And then there were two. No. 2 Ohio State and No. 4 Wisconsin will meet in the Big Ten tourney title game at 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday. The Buckeyes advanced to their fifth consecutive title game by topping No. 3 Michigan State, while the Badgers eliminated No. 1 Indiana.
The Buckeyes overcame a sluggish first half to push past Michigan State and advance to the Big Ten tourney title game for a fifth season in a row and seventh time in eight years. Is there any doubt who is the best program in the Big Ten? Of course not. OSU hit just 34 percent of its shots in the first half but rebounded to knock down 52 percent in the second half.
If it’s highlights you’re looking for, the Big Ten tourney was the place to be. From Brandon Paul’s buzzer-beater in Thursday’s opening round to Keith Appling’s drive and posterizing dunk on Friday, there was no shortage of highlight-reel plays. Watch some of our favorite Big Ten tourney plays from the first three days in this post.
The last time Indiana beat Bo Ryan and Wisconsin, the calendar had just flipped to 2007. The date, to be exact, was Jan. 31, 2007. Since then, the Badgers have won 12 consecutive over the Hoosiers, the latest coming in Saturday’s Big Ten tourney semifinals.
Aaron Craft came on strong in the second half to finish with 20 points and lead No. 10 Ohio State past No. 8 Michigan State, 61-58 on Saturday in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.
The Badgers slowed down the prolific Indiana attack, keeping the Hoosiers under 60 points. And this was an Indiana squad that came in averaging 80.8 points in all games. Wisconsin did a great job denying entry passes to the post and rarely offered open looks from 3-point range. Bottom line: It was a textbook Wisconsin victory. You see, this is why Bo Ryan was the Big Ten coach of the year. And, that’s 12 wins in a row for Wisconsin over Indiana.
Ryan Evans scored 16 points to help Wisconsin upsetIndiana 68-56 in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament Saturday. The Badgers allowed only seven points after the top-seeded Hoosiers pulled within one with 9:45 left. They earned their 12th consecutive win against Indiana, tying a record for any school against the powerhouse program, and will play Ohio State or Michigan State in Sunday’s final.
Scouting matters. Have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t know your opponent, you’ll get sliced up. So credit Indiana for blowing up Illinois’ offense by stretching its defense well out to the perimeter in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. There was no space to breathe for Illinois’ shooters, and consequently just 6 of Illinois’ 27 field goal attempts were three-pointers in the first half.
Watch “The Big Ten Finale” on BTN for full coverage of the entire day. It’s also online live at BTN2Go.
After a bruising and thrilling two days of basketball, the four top-seeded teams advance to Saturday’s semifinals of the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament. No. 1 seed Indiana faces No. 4 seed Wisconsin, and No. 2 seed Ohio State faces No. 3 seed Michigan State.
The Spartans had lots of chances to fold but never did. They came out sluggish and fell behind quickly, ending the first half trailing, 30-20. Wait, it got worse. With 10:55 left in the game, Iowa had pushed its lead to 12 points, 45-33. That’s when the Spartans went to work, chipping away and refusing to buckle.
Michigan State’s Keith Appling must be sick of hearing about how great teammates Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne are at dunking, because the point guard threw down his second ridiculous jam in as many games Friday night. Last week, it was this powerful beauty. Appling’s latest dunk may have been even better, as he drove the lane, again, and, this time, posertized Iowa’s Melsahn Basbabe. Watch the dunk here and see Twitter reaction to it in this post.
Adreian Payne had 18 points and 10 rebounds, leading No. 8 Michigan State to a rugged 59-56 victory over Iowa in the Big Ten quarterfinals on Friday night. Keith Appling and Gary Harris had 13 points apiece for the Spartans (25-7), who trailed by 12 midway through the second half. They advance to play Ohio State in the next round in a rematch of last season’s tournament championship, won by Michigan State.
The Buckeyes needed a few punches in the nose to wake up. Once aroused, Ohio State took it to Nebraska. The Buckeyes shot a robust 59 percent, showing great marksmanship from beyond the arc in nailing 52 percent (9-of-17). The Huskers looked tentative after a good first 10 minutes, committing 15 turnovers. And Ohio State scored 21 points off of those turnovers to go along with 13 fast break points. Add it all up, and you can see why Ohio State won by 21 points.
Victor Oladipo was having a pedestrian day, all things considered, before he loudly announced his presence with a fastbreak 360 slam in the waning moments of Indiana’s win over Illinois in the Big Ten tourney quarterfinals Friday afternoon. Despite finishing the game with a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds), the junior star struggled early and wasn’t much of a factor until the second half. And then, came the dunk. Watch it here and see some of the Twitter reaction to it in this post.
Some feel that Iowa will be dancing if it can upset Michigan State in Friday’s fourth and final Big Ten tourney quarterfinal at the United Center. A lot of things can happen between now and Selection Sunday, though. Still, just for fun, I proposed this question to my Iowa Twitter followers: What would you do for a win tonight? Many of the answers, to no surprise, were quite comical. See some of the best and most appropriate tweets in this post.
You didn’t think Sam Thompson would return home to Chicago and not put on a show in the Big Ten tourney at the United Center, did you? That’s just silly. The Ohio State sophomore gave fans what they expected with a quartet of dunks, a soaring alley-oop being the best of all. Thompson got so high on the alley-oop, he almost goal-tended the pass that looked more like a shot. Watch the alley-oop now and find Thompson’s other dunks in this post.
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
DeShaun Thomas and Sam Thompson had 19 points apiece, helping No. 10 Ohio State rout Nebraska 71-50 in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals on Friday night. The Buckeyes turned a close game into a runaway with an impressive 30-5 spree spanning halftime that included a little bit of everything. LaQuinton Ross connected on three consecutive 3-pointers, Aaron Craft made a couple of nifty passes and Thompson had two jams to go along with a 3-pointer.
If Jared Sullinger had his way, he’d be nowhere near the United Center this week. Thing is, the Ohio State product was sent to the Big Ten tourney by the Boston Celtics, his current employer. Sullinger, a first-round pick in last year’s NBA draft, underwent season-ending back surgery last month, and while he’s recovering, the Celtics decided to send him to Chicago to test his basketball IQ, if you will.
The Badgers were able to dictate the pace, playing a low-scoring, grind-it-out affair. Michigan? It wanted to play this game in the 70s or 80s—but it never was able to get on track with its array of high-flying perimeter talent. Wisconsin shot just 38 percent but hit eight 3-pointers to Michigan’s three.
Ben Brust scored 11 of his 14 points in the second half and No. 22 Wisconsin knocked off sixth-ranked Michigan 68-59 in the second round of the Big Ten tournament on Friday. Traevon Jackson had 16 points for the Badgers (22-10), who will play top-seeded Indiana in the semifinals on Saturday. Ryan Evans added 12 points, six rebounds and six assist.
The Hoosiers came out playing rugged defense, forcing Illinois into myriad bad shots in limiting the Illini to 21 first-half points and 25.9 percent shooting and forcing eight turnovers. And that theme continued in the second half in a game that never really was that close, as Illinois shot just 34 percent and had 12 turnovers. Brandon Paul had 16 points but hit just 2-of-13 shots.
The tournament opener between Illinois and Minnesota didn’t offer much in the way of aesthetically pleasing play, but a buzzer beater has a way of upping the entertainment value. The Gophers turned it over on a season-worst 35 percent of their possessions, allowing the Illini to stay in the game dispute big Minnesota advantages in every other category.