A wild night of near upsets that saw Kentucky escape Georgia, Villanova squeak by Creighton, and Kansas beating West Virginia in overtime did not spare the Big Ten from March craziness. What was originally slated as the undercard to a fairly full slate of B1G hoops, Michigan and Northwestern played an exciting, back and forth, double overtime thriller. Iowa plunged another dagger into Indiana's dwindling NCAA Tournament hopes and Maryland was able to beat Rutgers, and lay claim to the title of best team in the Big Ten since they went into the RAC and won without Frank Kaminsky. Something Wisconsin couldn't do.
Iowa (20-10, 11-6 B1G) vs. Indiana (19-11, 9-8 B1G)
Indiana entered this game as one of Joe Lunardi's "Last Four Byes" for the NCAA Tournament and their postseason chances took a hit after being thoroughly outplayed by a surging Iowa team. The Hoosiers were only down three at halftime, but Iowa opened the half on a 12-5 run and never looked back, winning 77-63.
Aaron White was the leading scorer for the Hawkeyes with 21 points. While Jarrod Uthoff was probably Iowa's most effective player on the night, filling up the stat sheet with 14 points, six boards, three steals, and three blocks. Gabe Olaseni looked good coming off the bench, scoring 13 points and grabbing eight rebounds in just 20 minutes of action. Nick Zeisloft had 15, on 5-of-7 three point shooting, to lead the Hoosiers. Troy Williams corralled 13 rebounds and added eight points and four assists in the losing effort. Yogi Ferrell and James Blackmon, Jr. both scored in double digits, but had off nights shooting.
The Hawkeyes last game of the regular season is home against Northwestern on Saturday and the Hoosiers last game is also on Saturday afternoon, but against Michigan State.
The Most Exciting:
Michigan (14-15, 7-10 B1G) vs. Northwestern (15-15, 6-11 B1G)
So, this wasn't the best game of the night, but it was certainly the most exciting. Two teams with very little to play for battled for two extra sessions and maybe (probably not) drew some viewers away from upset bids by Georgia over Kentucky and Creighton over Villanova. Tre Demps hit a three pointer at the end of regulation to send the game into OT and then DID IT AGAIN at the end of the first OT to send it into a second OT. The Wildcats eventually won 82-78 in double OT. Demps ended the night with 20 points and five assists, and that wasn't even the most impressive stat line for NU.
Alex Olah dropped 25 (12-of-18 shooting) points and collected 12 rebounds to lead the team in both categories. JerShon Cobb had 14 points and eight rebounds and Vic Law had 11 points, six boards, and three dimes. Michigan held the lead at the end of regulation and the first OT, but Demps' heroics and some late game inbounding issues cost the Wolverines a chance at a win. Zak Irvin poured in 28 points and snagged 11 rebounds, but even he couldn't drag Michigan to victory. Aubrey Dawkins added 21 points and Spike Albrecht had 16 points and eight assists.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Via <a href="https://twitter.com/kenpomeroy">@KenPomeroy</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Northwestern?src=hash">#Northwestern</a> had a <1% chance of beating Michigan in OT. <a href="http://t.co/nuEqgUOJFR">http://t.co/nuEqgUOJFR</a> <a href="http://t.co/Jmqr2njma8">pic.twitter.com/Jmqr2njma8</a></p>— Inside NU (@insidenu) <a href="https://twitter.com/insidenu/status/573006742843494400">March 4, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Northwestern ends their season on the road against Iowa while the Wolverines return home to host Rutgers and try and salvage a .500 record.
Maryland (25-5, 13-4 B1G) vs. Rutgers (10-20, 2-15 B1G)
An all too familiar scene for Big Ten fans that don't cheer for Maryland unfolded in New Jersey last night. Maryland was scuffling along against a team that it should be dominating and then BOOM! Dez Wells throws down a monster baseline dunk and hauls the Terps across the finish line with a 60-50 victory against the Scarlet Knights. Wells has been playing like a man possessed recently, and that continued on Tuesday night. The star swingman 20 points, 10 rebounds, and four steals for the Terps and helped Maryland win their sixth straight game. Jake Layman added 14 points, while Melo Trimble struggled his way to 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting.
Rutgers was game for the challenge of facing Maryland, but tough shooting nights from Kadeem Jack and Myles Mack (a combined 5-of-23) was too much to overcome for the Knights. Greg Lewis led the team with 14 points and added seven rebounds. Jack had a game, and career, high 16 rebounds, while Mack had eight points and four assists.
Maryland ends the season on Sunday night at Nebraska and the Scarlet Knights travel to Ann Arbor to play Michigan in their last regular season game.