What a fun night in the Big Ten! We had big games in strange places, strange games in normal places, upsets, and near-upsets. It's getting closer and closer to Wednesday night, so let's get right to the action.
Storyline of the Night
Both Michigan and Villanova entered Tuesday night's clash with undefeated records and convincing victories in the semifinals of the Legends Classic in Brooklyn. The Wolverines had defeated Oregon and the Wildcats had disposed of VCU, so we were set to have quite a matchup on our hands. What happened next did not disappoint.
Game of the Night: Villanova vs. Michigan
The final game of the Legends Classic turned out to be one of the most exciting college basketball games of the season so far. Back and forth went Michigan and Villanova down the stretch, with JayVaughn Pinkston spinning in for a layup with just over a minute remaining. Caris LeVert answered with a rainbow jumper to give the Wolverines a 55-54 lead, but Pinkston came right back, posting up LeVert and dropping in a baby jumper to give Villanova the advantage. Michigan tried to respond with an inbounds pass to Zak Irvin on the other end, but Pinkston's stunning rejection of the sophomore sealed the deal for the Wildcats in a thrilling 60-55 win.
Maryland vs. Iowa State
While Michigan failed to take home the Legends Classic crown, Big Ten newcomer Maryland had surprisingly little trouble taking care of Iowa State in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic final. The Terps held the explosive Cyclones to just 30-percent field goal shooting while Jared Nickens provided some instant offense off the bench. Although Melo Trimble exploded for 31 points on Monday night, Tuesday belonged to Nickens, who knocked down three treys and scored 15 points in just 20 minutes. Jake Layman added 15 points for Maryland, who won 72-63 and moved to 5-0 for the season.
Purdue vs. Missouri
After a disappointing Maui Invitational debut against Kansas State, Purdue bounced back with an 82-61 victory over SEC foe Mizzou. Raphael Davis, who was shut out against the Wildcats, poured in 22 points thanks to 18 free throw attempts, and the Boilers held the Tigers to 35-percent shooting. Tonight, Purdue completes its Maui adventure with a match against BYU.
Northwestern vs. Miami (OH)
Lost in all the hubbub about these big tournament games is that Northwestern is still undefeated after beating Miami in Cancun. By the looks of it, both teams had taken a trip to Senor Frog's beforehand, because this one was kind of ugly. Just 45 total points were scored in the second half with the 'Cats pulling away behind 13 points and eight rebounds a piece from Alex Olah and Vic Law. Tre Demps added 11 off the bench to lift Northwestern to a 55-46 win.
Akron at Penn State
Penn State trailed by 13 points at halftime thanks to some shoddy defense and hot three-point shooting by the Zips. Akron freshman Noah Robotham put up a career-high 18 points, but the Lions stormed back in the second half thanks to the incomparable D.J. Newbill. The senior guard scored 29 points on just 12 field goal attempts and added five rebounds and five assists for the fun of it. Brandon Taylor pitched in with 14 points and seven rebounds to help Penn State earn the 78-72 victory.
Omaha at Nebraska
Just like Penn State, the Huskers fell behind early but got back on their feet due to a spectacular performance from an upperclassman. Shavon Shields was nigh unstoppable in this one with 35 points and eight rebounds on 12-for-16 shooting. If not for that line, Terran Petteway would get all the attention for his 20 points and 12 rebounds. Nebraska got be be known as a defensive club under Tim Miles last season, but an 80-67 win over Omaha showed that the Huskers have the talent to light up the scoreboard as well.
St. Peter's at Rutgers
Oh, Rutgers. The Peacocks from Jersey City were 0-4 for the season coming into this one. They even had losses to the likes of Brown and Hartford. That did not stop St. Peter's from easily dispatching the Knights by the score of 68-50. Junior Etou led all Rutgers players with 16 points and six rebounds to keep pace with Marvin Dominique, who scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Peacocks while shooting 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. No, this Rutgers team is not supposed to be great this season, but there's still enough talent to prevent home drubbings like this from becoming the norm.