Every season there's always plenty of competitive games, as well as plenty of duds not worth remembering. While everyone enjoys and recalls the classic buzzer beaters and competitive showdowns between conference juggernauts, there are still games where the other teams in the Big Ten sink to unbearable lows and provide plenty of troll bait for opposing rivals. The 2012-13 season was no different in this regard, with several truly ugly and embarrassing performances that the losing team's fans will want to erase from memory. Anyways, let's begin the list.
5. Penn State 60 Akron 85
This game was ugly for a variety of reasons. While the loss to Akron wasn't a huge surprise, especially considering Penn State's lack of recent success, losing by 25 to a MAC school never looks pretty. The Akron game would also be the last time the Nittany Lions had Tim Frazier in the line-up, as the guard suffered a season ending Achilles injury in the opening minutes. The end result was a team that would start off conference play with a 14 game losing streak and a lifeless offense that would go on to rank 298th in scoring and 326th in field goal percentage.
4. Northwestern 44 UIC 50
One of the major story lines that seems to be a reoccurring topic each season is if Northwestern will finally make it to the NCAA tournament. The question was definitely one of the major story lines for Northwestern's 2012-13 season (that and Bill Carmody being on the heat seat) and Northwestern was hoping to use a strong non-conference start to gain some momentum. After a 6-0 start Northwestern came out flat versus Maryland in the B1G-ACC challenge and suffered their first defeat. With several quality non-conference opponents still coming up the Wildcats were looking to bounce back versus Illinois-Chicago. That didn't go as planned as they made only 10 of their 20 free throw attempts and turned the ball over 16 times, eventually falling to a team that shot 30.9% from the field. The Wildcats were held to a whopping 10 points over the last 13:50 and were outscored 10-2 the last 4:18, suffering one of the most embarrassing home losses of the season.
3. Purdue 44 Eastern Michigan 47
This game was ugly and I had the displeasure of witnessing it from court-side. It takes a special effort to give up only 47 points on the day and still play horrible defense, it takes an even bigger effort to lose to a team that shot 30.9% from the field and was 8 of 19 from the line. Of course it didn't help that Purdue shot less than 30% from the field and turned the ball over 18 times in a game where both teams played worse than your local high school team. The only saving grace here was that it wouldn't be the worst performance at the Convocation Center, with that honor going to the lowly Northern Illinois and the infamous 4 point half. The icing on the cake? Eastern Michigan's student section, all 100 or so, stormed the court in celebration at the end.
2. Michigan 78 Penn State 84
As bad as Penn State's season ended up being, there was at least one major highlight. On February 27th the Nittany Lions, winless in 14 Big Ten games, would host the #4 Michigan Wolverines. The Wolverines were in the midst of a competitive Big Ten race, had Michigan State coming up and likely weren't too worried about their game versus Penn State. After a less than stellar beginning, Michigan eventually started to get it together in the second half when they opened up a double digit lead. Penn State was able to stop the bleeding, though, heading into the last 6:30 down only 66-74. Closing out the game the Nittany Lions would play some of their most inspired basketball and go on 18-4 run over the eventual national runner-up, making 5 of their last 7 shots and stopping Michigan from making a field goal for the last 6:37. In the end the Nittany Lions only won two conference games and ten games total, but on this night they made a miraculous second half comeback and pulled off one of the most shocking upsets of the regular season.
1. Minnesota 49 Illinois 51
Usually when a team that makes it to the NCAA tournament loses by two points to another team that goes on to the NCAA tournament, it's not that ugly of a defeat. The Gophers, however, decided they wanted to change that. After making a comeback to start the first half, Minnesota held a lead going down the stretch in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. With 6:05 left Trevor Mbakwe would make a dunk to give Minnesota a 47-44 lead. It would also be the last field the Gophers would make in the game.
Even with Minnesota's offense diving off a cliff, they still held a three point lead going into the final minutes. Then what had to be one of the ugliest displays of rebounding in history commenced. After a Brandon Paul defensive rebound with 1:59 remaining, Illinois would go on pick up four straight offensive rebounds. After holding the ball for over a minute, Paul would make a tying three pointer on the fifth shot of the possession with 47 seconds left. Minnesota would follow up their lack of rebounding by turning over the ball when Hollins took an inbound pass with his foot on the line. Illinois followed with a Paul jumper at the buzzer and made one of the season's ugliest games into a thrilling finish.