Of the six team that took the floor tonight, only two of them were locks for the tourney. Penn State and Illinois are probably a year away from making a legitimate run and Indiana and Iowa are off this season. Northwestern and Purdue are going dancing, but these were still important games to win for seeding purposes.
Well, Northwestern pooped the bed tonight and Purdue almost did, too. A recap of a wacky night in Big Ten hoops is below.
Big Ten Game of The Night:
-Iowa 96, Indiana 90 (OT)
I had no rooting interest in this one (I never have any rooting interests, I’ve always got to be partial, duh) but my goodness this game was fun. After this nonsense at the end of regulation, I said to myself, out loud, that Indiana was going to somehow manage to hold on for the win.
HOW IS THIS NOT A DOUBLE DRIBBLE OR A CARRY pic.twitter.com/MYBcuWZwlF— Barstool Iowa (@BarstoolUIowa) February 22, 2017
They’re getting that no-call to lead to a yacktastic step back three pointer by James Blackmon Jr. on the road? Yeah, all signs were point to the Hoosiers to snap their four-game losing streak.
Alas, I was wrong.
Peter Jok absolutely went beast mode, dropping a game-high 35 points, including 22-23 (!!!) from the free throw line. For comparison, Indiana attempted just 19 freebies in the entire game. He scored all those points despite going only one for six from three-point land.
Iowa quickly got back into the game after a slow start, sent it to overtime and rode their late-game momentum to an exciting home win. Jok was out of this world, Tyler Cook had a good game, and Nicholas Baer scored 10 points, including a pair of three’s from off the bench.
Notably, Tyler Cook did this, which was just as glorious as it was disrespectful:
Indiana had four of their starters end in double-digits for scoring and it was still not enough to overcome Peter Jok’s huge game.
Iowa heads to Maryland on Saturday followed by a date in the Kohl Center on March second. If they can win those two games, you can put the Hawkeyes right back into the tournament picture. It’ll be tough, but this is a key stretch for them. If Jok and Cook can replicate these performances, they stand a fairly good chance of, at the very least, splitting that pair of huge road games against ranked opponents.
As for Indiana, the team that has wins over Kansas and North Carolina on their resumé, they’ll host Northwestern on Saturday. Who would have thought that the Wildcats would be playing this game with NCAA tournament seeding on the line, while the Hoosiers would be looking to avoid their sixth consecutive loss? More on that later.
-Illinois 66, Northwestern 50
Northwestern got swept by Illinois and is still going to make the tourney. Think about that.
Finally! Our beloved B1GCats are going dancing, yet we’ll always remember the fact that the most successful year in program history saw them lose twice against an in-state Illinois program that has been completely dysfunctional all season.
How did Northwestern, a team that needs every win it could get, lose this game? Well, look, Bryant McIntosh scored 16 points, along with his five rebounds and three assists. Ok, that’s good, right? Sure! The rest of the Wildcat starters?
- Vic Law: three points, three rebounds and he fouled out.
- Dererk Pardon: 6 points, 12 rebounds and pretty non-existent in ever other statistical category.
- Sanjay Lumpkin: Has scored 15 points in his last five games, all playing starter’s minutes. Don’t know what’s going on there, but he’s a good player who has been playing real bad.
- Scottie Lindsey: two points on one for 11 from the field.
The Wildcats did get nice contributions from their bench, getting 11 and nine points from Gavin Skelly and Isiah Brown, respectively. Regardless, it was a really bad game from a really good Northwestern team.
On the other side, the Illini got huge games from their starters, unlike their opponents. Malcolm Hill, who played 37 minutes tonight (five full minutes more than his already pretty high season’s average of 32) led the way with a game-high 18 points to go along with his five rebounds and five assists. Maverick Morgan also had a nice game, as he collected a team-high 10 boards, along with his nine points. The Illini were living right tonight, a rarity for them this season.
Northwestern heads to Indiana on Saturday and given how things have gone for Indiana this year, the Wildcats should probably try to win that game. A loss there would legitimately be a hit to their tourney stock. Not that it’ll knock them out of it, they’re a lock, but it could affect their seeding in a negative way.
Illinois heads to Nebraska for a game that probably doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. The Illini will be coming into that game off of two straight wins, though. So they’d be happy to end the year with some wins and on a more positive note, especially since Groce may very well be playing for his job.
-#14 Purdue 74, Penn State 70 (OT)
You know what? Penn State has had some really weird games against the Indiana teams. In football, too. Remember when Purdue and Penn State were tied at halftime a week after the Lions beat Ohio State in October? Remember when Indiana almost beat Penn State after they had dominated Iowa the week prior?
It’s not that Penn State has some Indiana-school voodoo going on, but they definitely always play super unusual games every time they meet. I pledge, from now until the day I die of basketball exhaustion, that I will watch every single Penn State-Indiana/Purdue game that I possibly can...regardless of sport. Embrace the chaos.
Ok, now to the game. Penn State could have vaulted themselves back into the tournament bubble with this win, but they just couldn’t pull it off, despite their best efforts. Losing to Purdue will never be a bad loss, but Penn State will always be haunted by that inexplicable home loss to Rutgers.
Tony Carr was great and at times looked like a one-man show. He had a game-high 21 points and seven assists in his 37 minutes of game time. His late-game heroics are absolutely an indication of a player that will be a star.
Huge game for Tony Carr, 19 so far. pic.twitter.com/MYiGd7Tdz4— Big Ten Geek (@bigtengeeks) February 22, 2017
Carr ties it up. He’s doing whatever he wants in the lane. pic.twitter.com/MiaybUjrqZ— Big Ten Geek (@bigtengeeks) February 22, 2017
Stevens gets the bucket and draws number 4 on Biggie, then hits him with the double guns. pic.twitter.com/HgZGWfZNGw— Big Ten Geek (@bigtengeeks) February 22, 2017
Sure, the Nittany Lions probably did kind of blow this game, not that they ever had enormous leads, but they definitely controlled the flow of the contest for large stretches of time and couldn’t hold onto that.
Once Swanigan (10/9/4), Haas (13/7/2) and Edwards (14/1/2) got going, they made it tough for the Nittany Lions to keep up. Not to mention, Ryan Cline hit a couple timely three’s at the end of the game.
Penn State got it to overtime, but simply got out muscled by the Boilermakers. They aren’t the first team to fall victim to that, not by a long shot.
Penn State heads to Minnesota on Saturday. Purdue goes to Michigan, also on Saturday, for a huge game. Purdue comes closer to locking up the conference with a win, Michigan likely locks up a tourney spot if they manage to pull off the upset on their home court. All eyes will be on that one come Saturday.