It was a season full of captivating games, incredible individual performances, and unforgettable moments for the nation’s toughest conference. Any conference that can put six teams in the big dance is sure to create some entertainment with that type of talent playing on a nightly basis. After looking over the season again, here’s what I feel deserves to be the Big Ten Moment of the Year (with a few honorable mentions).
Honorable Mention: Ohio State @ Michigan State, Jan 7: MSU 72 OSU 68 OT
Let’s take a moment to reflect and realize that at the time, this game was a 3rd ranked Ohio State team headed into East Lansing on a Tuesday night to play then 5th ranked Sparty. With that as the preface, it seemed hard to believe this game could be anything but a thriller. Lucky for us, the game managed to exceed the hype. Michigan State dominated this game until the Buckeyes went on a 20-3 run to close the last seven minutes and force overtime. Then Senior Keith Appling nailed a go ahead three to put the Spartans on top for good. After this win, MSU climbed back up into the top 3 of the rankings and sent Ohio State on a tailspin they never fully recovered from.
Honorable Mention: Michigan @ Illinois, Mar 4: U of M 84 Ill 53
Michigan needed this one to win the Big Ten Regular Season title outright. Boy, did they ever get it. Michigan put up 52 first half points en route to shooting 57% from the field for the game including an insane 70% from behind the arc. As big as this win was for the Wolverine team, it was pretty big for their best player too. Nik Stauskus cemented his Big Ten Player of the Year status in Champagne this night as he lit up the gym for 24 points and 7 of 9 from deep. His three pointer to end the half followed by a stare down of the Illini student section he just silenced, Stauskus certainly provided one of the most memorable images of this season.
Moment of the Year: Big Ten Championship, Michigan vs. Michigan State, Mar 16: MSU 69 U of M 55
After Michigan swept the Spartans for only the second time in the past 15 years, even casual Big Ten fans were excited to see round 3 of this state of Michigan battle. Michigan had been on a roll leading up to this one and Tom Izzo’s squad was fully healthy for only the fifth game since the Big Ten season started. Unlike most predicted, the Spartans were the story as they dominated on the defensive end to hold one of this conference’s great all time offensive teams to just 55 points on 31% shooting.
Had to go with the Championship Game because of how much it meant to the conference as a whole. In many ways this game represented the newer Big Ten powers like Michigan, offense dominated units, versus the old school, defense and rebounding staple teams like MSU. It continued to build the rivalry between Beilein and Izzo, two of the conferences best coaches, and set both teams up to nearly reach the Final Four. People could argue the term "best" but few can deny how important this game was to the conference, and one of college basketball’s best rivalries.