After a day full of strange occurrences (except for Wisconsin beating Northwestern, everyone expected that), two B1G bubble teams are looking up after beating two other B1G bubble teams.
Game of the Day: Illinois @ Michigan State
Illinois earned their second B1G road win, but it wasn't easy and the ending wasn't typical. It was a back and forth affair that saw neither team lead by more than seven. Down 55-52 in the final minute Michigan State went to the line with Travis Trice shooting one-and-one. He made the first free throw, but Illinois' Jaylon Tate went to box him out and apparently hit Trice in an awkward spot with his hip. Nothing was called initially, but after a video review the refs decided to assess a dead-ball technical on Tate, awarding MSU with two more shots and the ball. They would miss 2 of the 3 free throws and a jumper, allowing Illinois to rebound the ball and hit two free throws to stretch the lead to three. The Spartans would have a shot to tie it but it wasn't meant to be and Illinois walked away with a 59-54 win.
Nnanna Egwu had a great game for Illinois as he scored 12 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and blocked 3 shots on the day. Malcolm Hill added 19 and Kendrick Nunn contributed 14 as well. Branden Dawson had 12 for Michigan State, but it was Denzel Valentine who had the most points for the Spartans with 16 and he added 7 rebounds and 4 assists. On Thursday, Illinois will host Michigan as they try to continue improving their tournament resume. As for MSU, they will try to rebound during a trip to Northwestern on Tuesday.
Purdue @ Minnesota
The Boilermakers turned the ball over 23 times today, and yet they had a chance to win it in the final seconds. Minnesota turned up the press on Purdue in the second half and, after a 14-0 run to start the half, they never trailed again. A barrage of threes helped bring the Boilers within 2, but a controversial Maurice Walker block on Vince Edwards sealed it for the home team, 62-58. Andre Hollins led the Gophers with 18 points, while Walker and Joey King added 11 each. For Purdue, A.J. Hammons continued his good play with 11 points, 10 boards and 5 blocks and Jon Octeus put up 17 points thanks to a couple of banked threes. Purdue travels to Rutgers on Thursday, while Minnesota heads to Iowa.
Nebraska @ Penn State
Nebraska scored 13 in the first half, and somehow only trailed by 9. Unfortunately for the Huskers, there was no second half comeback to be had, despite more than doubling their first half output in the second. In the end Penn State held their opponents to 29.4% shooting, en route to a 56-43 victory. Nebraska got 13 and 12 from Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields respectively. Surprisingly, the Nittany Lions were led by someone other than D.J. Newbill (11 points) in scoring as Geno Thorpe scored 14. Next up for PSU is a trip to Columbus to face Ohio State on Wednesday. Nebraska gets a home game on Tuesday, but it won't be an easy one against league leaders Wisconsin.
Northwestern @ Wisconsin
This match-up went exactly as you would expect, the home team and championship leader took an early lead and never looked back. Northwestern got some good play from Alex Olah (15 points) and stellar freshman Bryant McIntosh (13 points). For the Badgers, they got 16 each from Bronson Koenig and Sam Dekker. Frank Kaminsky had a quiet, yet impressive game with 12 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Wisconsin travels to Nebraska on Tuesday, while Northwestern will welcome Michigan State into Welsh-Ryan Arena.