On Thursday, the Big Ten had two games with major NCAA tournament implications. Wisconsin was hoping to bolster their March resume for a potential top four seed, and Michigan State was looking to grab a home win to help improve their current “bubble team” status.
Let’s take a look at the action.
Game of the Night:
-Ohio State Buckeyes 83, #16 Wisconsin Badgers 73
Back on February 9th, the Badgers pulled out a gritty 70-69 overtime victory at Nebraska. This marked their eighth consecutive win and raised their overall record to 21-3. The Badgers were 10-1 in conference and in sole possession of first place.
My, how times have changed.
The Badgers lost for the third time in their last four games, this time to Ohio State, 83-73. They were simply non-competitive here, falling behind 9-6 on a Kam Williams three pointer and never leading again.
The Buckeyes outrebounded the Badgers 38-25, to go along with a scaling hot 10 of 16 from three point range. Sophomore guard C.J. Jackson made four of those three pointers and finished with a team high 18 points. Leading scorer Jae’Sean Tate chipped in 15 points to go along with 12 rebounds.
Senior Bronson Koenig shook off his recent leg injury to score a game high 27 points (five of nine from three point range). Unfortunately for Wisconsin, he was the only starter in double-figures. The Badgers top two scorers, Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes, managed only 4 points and 7 points respectively. The loss dropped Wisconsin (11-4) one full game behind conference leader Purdue (12-3).
Wisconsin will have a critical road game against Michigan State on Sunday, while Ohio State travels to Penn State next week.
-Michigan State Spartans 88, Nebraska Cornhuskers 72
In a vital game for their NCAA tournament hopes, Michigan State scored an 88-72 win over Nebraska in East Lansing. A 29-13 run over the final ten minutes of the first half turned a two point game into a 49-31 halftime lead for the Spartans. The win brought Michigan State to 17-11 overall and 9-6 in the conference, putting them in a three-way tie for fourth place with Minnesota and Northwestern.
A trio of fabulous freshmen led the way for Michigan State. Miles Bridges and Nick Ward both scored 20 points, and Joshua Langford chipped in 17. The Spartans held Nebraska to just 39 percent from the field, and beat the Cornhuskers 42-37 on the boards while forcing 11 turnovers.
Senior guard Tai Webster led the way for Nebraska with 19 points, while junior guard Evan Taylor (10 points) was the only other Cornhusker in double figures.
Both teams will be back in action on Sunday afternoon. Michigan State would massively help its NCAA Tournament chances with a win against Wisconsin on Sunday, while Nebraska will look to bounce back with a home game against Illinois.