As the Big Ten season is coming to a close, this means two things on a lot of college campuses: senior days and big resume building opportunities. There were three senior days/nights across the conference tonight, and while a team like Ohio State had a chance to pick up a huge resume win, they fell short in East Lansing.
Let's take a look at the action from all over the conference in a day that featured three games.
Game of the Night: Michigan State Spartans 91, Ohio State Buckeyes 76
Well, for Ohio State to go into East Lansing without their best player on senior day and beat a team with guys like Denzel Valentine, Matt Costello and Bryn Forbes , it would have taken a monumental effort. The Buckeyes absolutely needed this game if they wanted to creep into the group of at-large bids for the NCAA tournament.
However, Valentine would not be denied a win on his home floor in East Lansing on his final appearance in front of the Spartan faithful. Kissing center court on his way off the floor with his fellow seniors, Valentine left a lot more than just emotion in front of the home fans. He had left out on the floor a heck of a performance that led his team to the 15 point victory. Posting 27 points, 13 assists and 4 rebounds all but locked up his Big Ten Player of the Year and made the decision between he and Buddy Hield of Oklahoma for National Player of the Year all the more excruciating for voters to make.
With the win, Michigan State clinched the #2 seed in the Big Ten tournament, moved to 26-5 on the year and 13-5 in the conference. Valentine of course led the Spartans in scoring with his 27.
With the tough loss, the Jae'Sean Tate-less Buckeyes dropped to 19-12 overall, 11-7 in the conference and needing a very deep run, perhaps even winning the conference tournament to get into the NCAA Tournament field. JaQuan Lyle led the Buckeyes with 18 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
Yes, everybody, this is real life. A real score. A real game that took place. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights got their conference win, ending a 32 game conference losing streak dating back to January of 2015.
Not only did they win, they blew Minnesota out of the building. It was at one point 29-4. It was 40-15 at halftime. On senior day in Piscataway, it's hard to not have a sort of appreciation for guys like Greg Lewis of Rutgers. Have they been horrendous for the majority of his games there? Of course, there's little way around that. But to his credit, he stuck with the program.
In the defense of Minnesota for losing this game, they only had eight players dressed. Three of those eight were walk-ons following the suspensions earlier this week and Joey King being out with the broken foot.
Rutgers moved to 7-24 overall and 1-17 in the conference. They were led by Mike Williams who finished with 29 points.
Minnesota moved to 8-22 overall and 2-16 in the conference. They were led by Charles Buggs who finished with 13 points.
Iowa managed to hold off the avalanche that has been their previous few weeks of play. At one point sitting in a tie for the conference lead, they have taken a complete nose dive. They managed to stem the tide heading into Big Ten tournament play with this 71-61 victory over a Wolverines team that is an interesting position as far as the NCAA tournament goes.
Jarrod Uthoff does what he has been expected to do since he first burst onto the scene this season, finishing with 29 points to go along with 7 rebounds in leading the Hawkeyes. This team has struggled to find consistency shooting the basketball, and today they continued to struggle shooting only 8-28 from the three point line.
Helping them win this game, however, was the fact that Michigan was even worse from the outside. They finished 8-34 from the three point line and also had three more turnovers than the Hawkeyes, though neither team had an outrageous number at 8 for the Hawkeyes and 11 for the Wolverines.
Uthoff led the Hawkeyes who moved to 21-9 overall and 12-6 in the conference with his 29 points.
Derrick Walton Jr. paced the Wolverines with his 14 points to go along with 6 assists and 5 rebounds. The Michigan Wolverines dropped to 20-11 on the season and 10-8 in the conference.