The last four games in the Big Ten regular season offered up a variety of results. Penn State and Illinois engaged in what turned out to be a thrilling double-overtime matchup on Penn State's senior night, where Northwestern made easy work of the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
The Indiana Hoosiers played host to the Maryland Terrapins for Yogi Ferrell's senior night. The game had no implications on the Big Ten finish, as the Hoosiers have already clinched the regular season title outright. Wisconsin and Purdue offered a solid matchup of teams looking to help their NCAA tournament résumé and they did not disappoint.
Let's take a look at how the action played out.
Game of the Night: Penn State Nittany Lions 86, Illinois Fighting Illini 79 (2OT)
In a matchup that featured two programs who are looking to put the 2015-16 Big Ten conference records in the rearview mirror, the Illinois Fighting Illini and Penn State Nittany Lions offered a terrific matchup that featured two overtime periods and career highs in the scoring column.
Penn State led for the majority of the first half including the first 9:14 but never by more than six points. A shootout ensued down the stretch as the teams swapped the lead six times before Garner nailed his third three pointer and converted a soaring layup in the closing minute to give Penn State a 37-36 halftime lead.
The Nittany Lions used a balanced offensive attack to get the better of the Illini. Sophomore Shep Garner led the way on Penn State's senior night with 22 points. Garner put his versatility on display by getting looks from the free throw line, and shooting 4-for-7 from behind the arc. Penn State not only capitalized on Garner's three point shooting, but the rest of the Nittany Lions as well as they shot an impressive 43.5 percent from three point land. Penn State will enjoy a single-bye as they take on Ohio State Thursday, March 10 at approximately 2:30 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network.
Illinois has prided themselves on having one of the top scoring duos in the conference with point guard Kendrick Nunn and guard/forward Malcolm Hill. The Fighting Illini found themselves in the midst of a close game despite shooting struggles from Nunn, who finished with only nine points on 3-for-15 shooting from the field. Hill picked up the slack with 39 points, which marks a career-high for the junior. Senior guard Khalid Lewis was the only Illini player besides Hill to notch double figures in the scoring column with 10 points. The Illini will take on Minnesota in game 1 of the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday, March 9 at 4:30 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
-Indiana Hoosiers 80, Maryland Terrapins 62
The Maryland Terrapins entered Sunday's contest against the Hoosiers losing three out of their last five games, but came out on a mission to rectify that stat. The Terps got out to an early 12-4 lead, but the lightning quick offensive attack from the Hoosiers allowed them to climb back into the game. An 8-0 run sparked the Hoosiers before the first media timeout to help bring the score to 18-12 with 12:41 left.
Maryland senior Jake Layman brought boundless energy in the first eight minutes of the game to create second chance looks for the Terrapins and allowed his teammates to find easy baskets. The Terrapin defense did a great job early on creating four turnovers in the first eight minutes.
Hoosier point guard Yogi Ferrell continued to spark the Hoosiers on senior night with his unique ability to stop on a dime on a fast break for three point opportunities. Fellow senior guard Nick Zeisloft got into the action with a three pointer that helped spark a 10-0 run for the Hoosiers. Indiana's excellent half court offense was able to pick apart the Terrapins and build the lead to 32-25 with 4:05 left in the first half. The Terrapins meanwhile only had one field goal in the last 6:40 before a Melo Trimble jumper cut the lead to 32-28.
A Troy Williams three pointer at the top of the key catapulted the Hoosiers to a 41-28 lead at halftime. Maryland started off hot, but shot 2-for-12 from the field towards the end of the half and failed to contain Ferrell as he was able to penetrate at will.
Williams' second half performance appeared to have been generated off the momentum of the three point shot at the end of the first half as he continuously attacked the rim on fast break opportunities. The Hoosiers repeatedly took advantage of the bigger, slower lineup of the Terrapins. Indiana looked to Williams to create for himself by attacking the rim and getting to the free throw line. After the first media timeout, the Hoosiers extended their lead to 55-39.
The Terrapins were not able to get the Hoosier lead to single digits until less than seven minutes remaining in the game when Jaylen Brantley connected on a corner three pointer to cut the lead to 64-55. The single digit deficit only existed for one possession as the next two Hoosier possessions allowed for Indiana to build their lead up to 68-55.
Indiana never relinquished the lead in the second half and held on to win in resounding fashion. The Hoosiers were led by junior Troy Williams who tallied 23 points and five rebounds. Senior point guard Yogi Ferrell, who started his school-high 133rd start in the Indiana program, finished his last game inside Assembly Hall with 17 points, four rebounds and four assists. The Hoosiers shot 51 percent from the field and 38 percent from the three point line. Indiana locked up the No. 1 overall seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will take on the winner of Northwestern and Michigan Friday, March 11 at 12:00 p.m. ET.
Maryland was led by Melo Trimble who notched 17 points, four rebounds and three assists. Junior Robert Carter Jr. poured in 14 points and seven rebounds and fellow big man Diamond Stone notched 12 points and seven rebounds. The Terrapins clinched a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament and will play the either Rutgers, Nebraska or Wisconsin Friday, March 11 at approximately 9:00 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
-Northwestern Wildcats 65, Nebraska Cornhuskers 54
Northwestern seniors Alex Olah and Tre Demps combined for 14 of the team's first 18 points and helped contribute to a solid overall first half for the Wildcats. Nebraska held an early lead of 11-9 with over 13 minutes remaining in the half, but the rest of the first half belonged to the Wildcats, as they closed the opening 20 minutes with a 37-22 halftime lead. Northwestern shot an impressive 54 percent from the field in the first half. The Wildcat defense was equally impressive as they only allowed one Cornhusker to have more than one made field goal.
The Cornhuskers came out with a better offensive output in the second half and did a better job defensively, as they held Northwestern without a converted three point attempt until Alex Olah nailed one with less than three minutes remaining. Nebraska star Shavon Shields had a rough shooting percentage, but willed the Cornhuskers to a nice comeback attempt cutting the lead back to single digits in the waning minutes of the second half. Former Kansas Jayhawk Andrew White also provided a spark with 12, but it wasn't enough to spoil the senior day festivities in Evanston.
The Wildcats were led by Alex Olah's 19 points and eight rebounds. Fellow senior Tre Demps poured in 17 points. The Wildcats eclipsed the 20-win mark for the third time in school history, per InsideNU.com. Northwestern clinched ninth place in the Big Ten and will play Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament Thursday at 12:00 p.m. EST. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
Nebraska was led by the trio of Tai Webster, Andrew White and Shavon Shields. Webster and White each tallied 13, while Shields poured in 11. Nebraska's next game will be against Rutgers on Wednesday, March 9 at approximately 7:00 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
In a battle of programs looking to improve their NCAA tournament seeding, the Badgers and Boilermakers came storming out of the gate with a combined 50 points by the under-8 timeout. The Badgers used balanced scoring to help build an eight point lead at the juncture. Nigel Hayes impacted the first 12 minutes in a variety of ways. He had nine points, two rebounds and two assists.
Purdue came back thanks to terrific defense and getting out in transition. A block by senior A.J. Hammons led to a three pointer by sophomore P.J. Thompson which gave the Boilermakers a 32-31 lead. Purdue made 6-of-7 shots to lead to a 10-0 run. Both teams traded three point baskets to conclude the first half, and Purdue took a 45-39 lead into the break. Both teams shot extremely well, as the Badgers shot 57 percent and the Boilermakers eclipsed an astonishing 63 percent.
The Boilermakers continued their hot shooting in the second half and established a 54-42 lead at the under-16 timeout. Freshman Caleb Swanigan got it going early by knocking down jump shots and getting to the free throw line to help build the lead. Thompson and Hammons combined for 23 points to help build the lead to 61-50 with 11:49 left.
Wisconsin used a pair of three pointers from Zak Showalter and Jordan Hill to cut the lead to nine, but a Swanigan triple pushed the lead to 72-60. The Boilermaker lead shrunk to 76-69 when head coach Matt Painter elected to take out both Hammons and Haas to rest them until the final stretch.
The Boilermakers were led in the scoring column by Caleb Swanigan who notched 27 points. P.J. Thompson tallied 22, A.J. Hammons poured in 16 and Vince Edwards scored 11. The Boilermakers shot a record 62 percent from the field. The Boilermakers secured the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, which is the cutoff for the coveted double-bye in Indianapolis. Purdue will take on either Minnesota, Illinois or Iowa on Friday, March 11 at approximately 2:30 p.m. ET.
Nigel Hayes played a brilliant game for the Badgers as he tallied 30 points and eight rebounds. Redshirt freshman Ethan Happ produced 14 points and six rebounds and Zak Showalter notched 13 points. With the loss, Wisconsin dropped to the No. 6 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. The Badgers will have a single-bye in Indianapolis before taking on either Nebraska or Rutgers on Thursday, March 10 at approximately 9:00 p.m. ET.