Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, March 21, 2015

It was a solid two days for Big Ten basketball fans.

Overall, the Big Ten posted a 5-2 record on Thursday and Friday of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State, Iowa and Wisconsin were all victorious in opening games of the tournament. senior writer Tom Dienhart offers his take from the opening round Big Ten games.

Top player: Tie between D?Angelo Russell and Frank Kaminsky. Russell played as good as advertised, scoring 28 points in the overtime win vs. No. 7 VCU on Thursday. He hit 10-of-20 shots and had six rebounds, two steals and two blocks. His 28 points were the third most by a Big Ten freshman in NCAA Tournament history. Kaminsky was typical Kaminsky, scoring 27 points and grabbing 12 rebounds en route to his 12th double-double. He also shot 10-of-14 from the field and dished out four assists.

Top number: 13, the seconds former walk-on Varun Ram played in Maryland's narrow 65-62 win over Valparaiso. They were a huge 13 seconds, though, as the 5-foot-9 senior guard came up with a clutch steal in the final seconds to deny the Crusaders an attempt at a potential game-tying shot.

Top stat line: Iowa?s Aaron White looked like Larry Bird, doing seemingly anything he wanted vs. a mismatched No. 10 Davidson squad that had absolutely no answer for the 6-9 senior. White hit 11-of-14 shots for 26 points. He also had six rebounds with two assists. Bottle and save this one, Aaron.

And then there was this historic Frank Kaminsky line.

Top moment: Ohio State?s D?Angelo Russell took an elbow to the head that drew blood, which streamed down the left side of his face near the near the finish of regulation play. But there was no stopping the freshman sensation in an OT win vs. VCU.

Top quote: "That's why it hurts as bad as it does because we knew we put ourself in position to win and we didn't make the necessary plays." – Purdue coach Matt Painter after the OT loss to Cincinnati.

Biggest surprise: It wasn?t a shock that No. 7 Iowa beat No. 10 Davidson. But, no one saw a 31-point victory. It was the largest win for a No. 7 over a No. 10 in NCAA tourney annals. Iowa was too big, too deep and too good right from the start, taking a 38-29 halftime lead and never looking back en route to a 31-point win. Iowa had an 18-3 run-Aaron White scored 13 in a row during that stretch–early in the second half to blow things out and had three players in double-figures, with White?s 26, 12 from Peter Jok and 15 from Mike Gesell.

Biggest disappointment: Oh, my, Purdue: This one is gonna sting for a while. After Jon Octeus hit two free throws, Purdue led 56-49 with 48 seconds left. The Boilermakers looked to be in good control. But the No. 8 Bearcats roared back with six points in less than 10 seconds. No. 9 Purdue clung to a 58-57 lead when Octeus missed a free throw, giving UC the ball with a chance to take the lead with 25 second left. But Cincinnati committed a turnover and Octeus was fouled and hit 1-of-2 free throws. That gave the Bearcats a chance to tie with 7.4 second left. And UC did just that, as Troy Caupain hit a driving lay-up with 0.1 seconds left to force overtime. That?s where the Bearcats secured victory.

Opening Round Notes:

  • The Boilermakers' 14-game winning streak in NCAA tournament openers had been the fifth-longest streak in NCAA history. The streak started in 1994 with Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson and a win over UCF. Their last opening NCAA loss was in 1993 to Rhode Island.
  • Iowa?s win vs. Davidson was its first in the Big Dance since 2001. The Hawkeyes haven?t advanced to the Sweet 16 since 1999.
  • Michigan State?s Tom Izzo is 7-0 vs. the SEC in NCAA action.
  •  Wisconsin set a school record with its 32nd win.
  •  Maryland hasn?t been to the Sweet 16 since 2003.
  •  MSU?s Denzel Valentine's was 6-for-6 day at the line vs. Georgia, the rest of the Spartans hit 5 of 13.
About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, 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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