Tuesday featured three teams on the current edge of the double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament as we are now just three weeks away from all 14 teams convening in Indianapolis. The night featured what was likely the most-tweeted about game of the week, but not for good reasons. More on that later.
Game of the Night: Purdue Boilermakers 71, Northwestern Wildcats 61
There was not a great candidate for Game of the Night Tuesday, as the title of the article "hinted" towards, none of the games were a single-digit affair. It will become more clear through the article that Purdue-Northwestern earned this by default.
You know it is not a great night for Big Ten hoops when a game that is led by the heavily favored team wire-to-wire is considered the best. Northwestern was able to cut its first half deficit to five, but Purdue pulled away down the stretch as A.J. Hammons dropped another double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds, his fourth in five games.
Ryan Cline and Johnny Hill were the only two other Boilermakers in double-figures, both off of the bench. The remaining four starters struggled offensively, shooting just 8-for-23 from the floor on the night.
Northwestern's big three of Tre Demps, Bryan McIntosh, and Alex Olah played about as well as fan could hope, whose team is trying to pull off a top-25 upset on the road. The three scored 16, 14, and 12 respectively, but I simply was not enough to get over the hump and now the Wildcats have to win out at this point to even maybe, possibly get back into NCAA Tournament talk.
Purdue finishes the week with a trip to Assembly Hall to face the arch-rival Indiana Hoosiers, so naturally Crimson Quarry and Hammer and Rails are getting along swimmingly on Twitter already.
-Illinois FIghting Illini 82, Rutgers Scarlet Knights 66
It's amazing how good Rutgers manages to make not good teams look. Granted, Illinois is young and beat up for the second year in a row. It certainly doesn't help the Scarlet Knights that Corey Sanders is suspended for two weeks. Sanders is basically the reason Rutgers has five of the six wins it has this season.
This game was worth the five minutes I actually watched it to see Malcolm Hill's 40-foot floater to beat the shot clock. He led all scorers with 22 as Maverick Morgan scored 17 and Kendrick Nunn dropped 16. Neither team has much to play for at this point. At best, Illinois can win four of its last five to finish above .500, but would need a ranked win to make this happen.
Oh my God, why? How? Where do I begin with this game. Seriously, is ESPN purposely trying to hand FOX the rights to the Big Ten with these gimmicks? For those who weren't able to watch basketball or browse Twitter on Tuesday night, the World Wide Leader made a dumb as hell decision to have the entire game broadcast on a single camera that appeared to be sitting on the announcing table.
Or in? There were way too many camera-side shoes visible from this wide-angle lens approach. Even worse was that much of the action was obscured by the back of the officiating crew's heads. Some suggested this may be an experiment to see if a game crew can operate with less camera operators and wiring, or could lead to people being able to chose their camera angle when watching on a streaming device.
But the camera angle used for Ohio State-Michigan was unnerving, giving a claustrophobic sensation throughout. I'm fine with networks finding new ways to bring games into homes, but this camera angle should have never made off the cutting room floor.
I'm told that Ohio State won by ten, but I could also be convinced based on what I saw that neither team actually ever scored and that this game was given a mercy kill.
Most importantly, this result has created a four-way tie for fourth in the conference standings. Who's ready for March?