As we get midway through the final week of the regular season, every game is becoming important as teams fight for byes and double byes in New York next week. In Wednesdays games, Michigan and Penn State faced off in a huge match up with Big Ten seeding implications and a bid in the NCAA tournament on the line for the Nittany Lions. In the late game, Minnesota took on Iowa in what is a game of two of the lower seeds. Let’s see how the night unfolded.
Game of the Night:
-Michigan Wolverines 72, Penn State Nittany Lions 63
After their big win over Ohio State, Penn State has now had two big opportunities to put them on the right side of the bubble and they have come up short both times. They lost by four to Purdue and now nine at home against Michigan and now, barring an incredible tournament run, they look like they will be on the wrong side of the bubble come Selection Sunday.
In this one, two familiar faces in Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens led the way. Carr had 21 and Stevens had 19, combining for 40 of Penn State’s 63 points. Carr also added six assists and five rebounds and Stevens added eight rebounds to their impressive stat lines. Shep Garner struggled to get going tonight, as he was just 1-for-6 from the field and 1-for-5 from three. Also, free throws for Penn State did not come free as they shot just 6-for-11 from the charity stripe.
For Michigan, sharpshooting Duncan Robinson had 19 points and Mo Wagner had 18 points with eight rebounds. Michigan has had their fair share of free throw troubles on the year and has been a main concern, but today they shot 16-for-19 and was a promising step forward. Michigan also had active hands in the passing lanes in this one as they tallied eight steals with Zavier Simpson leading the way with three. This is a huge win for Michigan as they move from the five seed to the four seed with this win, putting them in position for a double bye if they win Saturday at Maryland. Penn State is currently sitting at the six seed.
-Minnesota Golden Gophers 86, Iowa Hawkeyes 82
Both of these teams have already locked up two of the four lowest seeds and are guaranteed a game on Wednesday. They both had great potential for the season but have struggled immensely. Minnesota especially as they were at one point the No. 14 team in the country and now had dropped nine in a row before tonight and are just 4-13 in the Big Ten. Even though they have had some injuries and controversy, they are one of the bigger disappointments in the country and Richard Pitino has to be feeling the heat.
In this game, Minnesota was led by Nate Mason who had 33 points and Jordan Murphy had another double-double, putting up 10 and 10. Minnesota got to the free throw line 35 times, but only converted on 23 of them putting them at 65 percent on the day.
For Iowa, Isaiah Moss had a career night going for 32 points and shot 12-for-18 from the field. Iowa also struggled to shoot the ball on the night as they were just 5-for-17 from deep and 9-for-17 from the free throw line. With the loss, Iowa falls to the 14 seed in the tournament and Minnesota moves to the 11 seed with the win. If these standings do not move before next week, we will see this match up again in the first round next Wednesday.