staff, April 28, 2015

The inaugural Big Ten tournament field is set. When Saturday started everything seemed pretty cut and dry.

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Wins by Ohio State and Maryland would cement their status as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, with the winner of Penn State-Michigan grabbing the No. 4. Hopkins would go into the No. 3 spot.

What a difference a day makes. The league got turned upside and fans got to see some incredible lacrosse.

Here are the links to watch Thursday's semifinals and Saturday's final on BTN2Go:

[ MORE: View 2015 All-Big Ten Men's Lacrosse teams & honors ]

Rutgers stuns Ohio State

The day started off with the biggest upset of the Big Ten season. Rutgers, while competitive, entered its final game of the season on a five-game losing streak and winless in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes were favored to control the game and leave Piscataway with their fourth conference win. The Scarlet Knights had other plans.

On Senior Day, Rutgers used a 7-0 second-quarter run to break open a 4-4 tie to streak to a 17-10 win. Led by senior Joe Nardella (2g), Rutgers won seven of eight faceoffs and continually pressured the Buckeye defense. Classmate Brian Goss (3g) netted two goals during the run and Scott Bieda (2,4) tickled the twine once and handed out three helpers in that stretch.

As satisfying as this win was for Rutgers, it was equally as disappointing for Ohio State. The Buckeyes were 4:22 away from grabbing a share of the Big Ten title and securing an at-large berth in the NCAAs. Instead, the Buckeyes are now on a two-game skid and really need to beat the Terrapins on Thursday in College Park. The game will be a rematch of the Showdown in the Shoe, won by Maryland 10-9 in overtime on April 18.


Penn State grabs No. 4 seed

The deal was as straightforward as it could get. Win, and in. Lose, and season over. The stakes were high and so was the play between Penn State and Michigan. Leading 8-4 entering the final frame, Penn State had to fend off a furious Michigan rally spearheaded by Ian King (6g) to take the win by a count of 10-9.

Nick Aponte continues to excel as the leader of the offense. The sophomore from Long Island had three goals and an assist, giving him nine points (4, 5) in his last three games. Aponte had 17 in the previous 10 games. Goalie Conor Darcey made 13 saves, his 10th double-digit performance of the season. The win gets Penn State a date with Johns Hopkins, who beat the Nittany Lions 11-10 in 2OT on April 11.


Hopkins earns No. 1 seed

After the Ohio State loss, the stage was set for the winner of Hopkins-Maryland to take the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament. The greatest rivalry in lacrosse lived up to the promotion, with both teams coming out on fire and combining for 14 first-half goals (7-7). The Terps built a 10-9 lead going into the fourth.

From there, it was all Blue Jays. Ryan Brown scored two goals in just 10 seconds to spark a Hopkins run that didn?t end until the Jays had scored six straight and had a 15-9 lead with just 2:01 remaining. It was an interesting role reversal, as JHU had given up several late leads this season while Maryland had come from behind to win their last two. Brown was sensational, finishing with eight goals, his second eight-goal game this season. Faceoff man Hunter Moreland was superb, winning 15-25 at the dot, fueling the Hopkins offense.


Expect the Unexpected

The entire day of action was everything conference lacrosse should be: passionate, intense and aggressive. The teams battled it out for all kinds of different stakes. In the end, we are reminded that nothing is written in stone. Games are won and lost between the lines, something to realize as we head into to the inaugural Big Ten tournament. At this point, anyone is capable of winning the title and grabbing the automatic qualifier to the NCAAs.


Mark Dixon, a former Johns Hopkins lacrosse player, contributes to Inside Lacrosse and calls Big Ten men's lacrosse games on BTN. Follow him on Twitter (@dixonlacrosse).